I have always believed – and have been quoted saying – that you should not use social to sell, but to communicate. You can sell your products elsewhere, via platforms where it’s what people actually want from you. Via your newsletter, for example.
Ever since Ed and I launched Orca Social earlier this year we’ve been asked the same questions again and again. So I figure it makes sense to answer these questions in a FAQ style blog post (BTW: for some odd reason I love FAQs). Here it goes.
1. Why focus only on large B2Bs?
In our opinion, B2Bs have much more to gain from jumping on the social media bandwagon than B2Cs. Through social media, B2Bs can reach out and develop relationships with audiences (both customers and end users) who they’ve never been in contact with before.
Earlier this week, we (Ed Major and I) launched a new company called Orca Social as we see a need for large B2B companies to make better use of social technologies. Visit the website here.
The key for B2B companies is to learn to do social from within. The alternative is grim: If they engage external resources it becomes costly, slow and inauthentic. And, even more important, they miss out on the chance to break the silos and nurture a culture on which you can scale the social efforts to include e.g. social selling, social media customer service, social listening, internal collaboration etc.
On 30 September 2013, I left Maersk Line after exactly two years at the Headquarters in Copenhagen. In 2011, I was brought in from the agency side with the primary aim to get Maersk Line started on social media.
The project appealed to me right from the beginning. Not only is Maersk by far the biggest company in Denmark (almost 20% of Denmark’s GDP). It’s also surrounded by myths about life behind the ever-closed bluish windows in the infamous “Building with the blue eyes” in Copenhagen.
“Maersk Line aside, can you give us some hands-on social media examples that are relevant to our company?”
Point taken. You cannot copy-paste what we did in Maersk Line, and sometimes the difference between e.g. a retailer and a shipping company is simply too big.
The difference between looking good and being good
There are of course so many social media cases out there. But I find it’s extremely difficult to judge how “best case” those cases really are. They might look very convincing from the outside, but as soon as you get behind the scenes you find that either they don’t add any true business value or that the resources spent don’t justify the outcome. Or both.
Now that I’m on the verge of leaving Maersk Line to join Wibroe, Duckert and Partners (and while I’m still on paternity leave) I think it’s time to highlight a valuable lesson from my past two years in this great company. Unfortunately, it’s something I find I need to repeat again and again. Here it goes:
“Social media is about communication, not marketing.”
Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, with social media we’re dealing with social networks, not a list of broadcasting platforms where companies can launch campaigns with the sole ambition to sell more. With social media, the users have finally taken control. They themselves control what they want to see, and they sure as h… don’t want to follow companies that are only there to sell to them.
A few months ago I learned that the Maersk Line approach to social media is “radical”. I don’t see it that way. But I understand where it’s coming from: Our Social Media Team is rooted in Communication, not Marketing, and we therefore have a different approach to things.
So, moving on from my previous post, let’s have a look at how we got started and what we’ve done to date in Maersk Line with regards to social media.
First of all, our approach has been one of insourcing. I was basically recruited to do the job, starting 1 October 2011, and I have been running with it ever since. This approach was chosen by management because they realized that it was the only way forward if it was to be credible as well as cost-efficient.
What has worked really well for us, and what the management fully understood, is the big amount of trust and empowerment that came my way. If you want to humanize the brand and ensure speed of posting you need to work with minimal oversight.
Where are we today?
So what’s the status after a year and a half? We currently have a presence on 12 social media sites, two of which are Chinese. We use these platforms in very different ways, with respect for the different users out there. However, a common trend spans the entire spectrum, namely that we regard it as a communication tool as opposed to a marketing exercise.
If you ask me, this approach does not make it boring, quite the contrary. Our presence is characterised as being very visual, narrative, trustworthy, based on that which is current and close to the business. Our aim is to engage and enter into dialogues. And we endeavour to humanise our somewhat hardware-driven business.
The top line (social) numbers
We have over 830,000 fans on Facebook, on which our engagement rate consistently falls between 5-10%. Also, we have 45,000 followers on Twitter, and 30,000 followers on LinkedIn.
In addition to all of this, we have 22,000 followers on Instagram. We have received considerable praise for our use of Instagram (and photos in general), even from Instagram themselves. Recently, we became one of their “suggested users”.
Here’s a short case video that summarizes what we’ve done the past year and a half (I know, I know, it’s a bit to the dramatic side):
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/59990482 w=460&h=259]
From mass media to corporate journalism
But what is it worth? Perhaps nothing? We don’t know for certain. But we believe we know that there is much more to social media than… social media alone.
Social media is merely a concept. It is a measure of where the media landscape and technology have brought us, specifically to the point where technology has become so sophisticated that it is capable of mirroring our behaviour and the actual structure of society right down to the individual level.
In other words: a society consists of individuals who are interconnected. The same can be said about the role of social media. Away with mass media; today, that space belongs to the users. And in that space we all become editors of our own lives. How do I wish to present myself? Who am I? How do I want to spend my time? With whom? Where? Etc.
What is interesting for companies is that they are also, or have the opportunity to be, publishers of their own stories. Companies have become news media agencies in their own right. But they will not get very far unless they are trustworthy. This is where the concept of corporate journalism comes in: the most digitally-advanced companies have started to employ people who report on what goes on in the company with journalistic integrity.
After all, if you fail to divulge your mistakes, no one can learn from them, in which case the company stagnates.