Maersk Line: A B2B Social Media Success Story
Danish business conglomerate, A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, is an integrated container logistics company working to connect and simplify its customers’ supply chain. Maersk Line is one of A.P. Moller – Maersk Group arm that focuses primarily within the transportation and energy. The Group involved with production of oil and gas, and other related activities including drilling, offshore, services, towage and transportation of oil products. As stated in Maersk’s official website, Maersk Line is also known as one of the world’s largest container shipping company that operates over 611 vessels, 59K customers served, ; 12M containers shipped per year shipping to 343 ports around the world. Maersk focuses on end-to-end logistics.
Seemingly impossible to manage, a container shipping giant can make social media an important part of its marketing mix. During recent years, the classic B2B company Maersk Line has leaped onto the social media scene as an industry pioneer due to the company’s extensive use of social media platforms. Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social Media at Maersk, helped Maersk Line to gain over 1 million Facebook followers as shown in Maersk Line’s official Facebook page. Being said, Maersk Line was launched actively in social media networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, and had created Maersk Line’s social media called Maersk Line Social that contains company’s articles and stories in less formal manner. Although, Wichmann (2013) said “Social media is about communication, not marketing.” The initial goals for social media is to raise brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, improve employee engagement, develop customer insights, and control news flow.
Maersk Line started an experiment back in 2011 to see how their experiment would compare with other campaigns that were run by B2C companies. Maersk Line launched a campaign on Facebook to gain additional leads, and the objective of the campaign on Facebook was to engage to Facebook audience using strong visual and then convert them by leading them from Facebook to their website and finally having them request a brochure by filling in their details and submitting a web form. In short, the objective was to gain important leads through Facebook and then covert them into customers.
In 2012 European Digital Communications Awards, Maersk Line won the Community Presence in social media award as well as the respected Social Media Campaign of the Year award. Collen (2012) make clear that the jury explained, “At an extremely low-cost shipping giant Maersk Line has secured an astounding 420,000 fans on Facebook and a comprehensive presence on 8 other platforms – in less than 11 months. The company’s social media programme has changed the face of Maersk Line and is an example for other B2B companies to follow.”
Back then, social media was used more widely and often by B2C companies typically for brand promotion for products, or services. Then B2B communities increasingly begun to grow which includes companies, customers, industry experts, and any other consumers. B2B social media platforms such as Facebook being used for business purposes which connect to people, seeks possible vendors, and sponsored ads. Hence, B2B marketer thought that developing a social presence can be daunting.
A natural choice for B2C marketers is to establish their social media presence on Facebook but B2B focuses on blogs to reach professional ; businesses hence, Maersk Line’s Wichmann begun posting photos online on Facebook about Maersk related stories which mostly of its “Likers” were their employees. The strategy is to onboard the company’s thousand employees to help achieve virality to their own since Facebook connects channels to all their employees’ people.
The biggest challenge faced by B2B companies when it comes to social media is a cute promotional activity when it comes to strategic marketing activities, and what will might be perceived from the social media as B2B companies are marketing themselves. Maersk developed a social media strategy emphasizing four areas: communications, customer service, sales, and internal usage. In a nutshell, getting closer to customer is Maersk’s main goal.
While actively posting on Facebook, Wichmann began launching Maersk Line platforms. Generally, Maersk Line used Facebook to engage with followers in very visual and conversational way, Twitter became news outlet, LinkedIn to reach customers, and Maersk own social media hub called Maersk Line Social that contains more extensive stories wherein Maersk can control over social media, also, Maersk Line Social followers are very specific.
There are four bases for segmenting consumer markets: 1. Demographic Segmentation, 2. Geographic Segmentation, 3. Psychographic Segmentation, 4. Behavioral Segmentation. Chand explained further that demographic segmentation divides the markets into groups based on variables such as age, gender, family size, income, occupation, education, religion, race and nationality. Demographic factors are the most popular bases for segmenting the consumer group. One reason is that consumer needs, wants, and usage rates often vary closely with the demographic variables. Moreover, demographic factors are easier to measure than most other type of variables. Geographic segmentation refers to dividing a market into different geographical units such as nations, states, regions, cities, or neighborhoods. Psychographic segmentation pertains to lifestyle and personality traits. In the case of certain products, buying behavior predominantly depends on lifestyle and personality characteristics. Lastly, Behavioral segmentation, buyers are divided into groups based on their knowledge of, attitude towards, use of, or response to a product. Behavioral segmentation includes segmentation based on occasions, user status, usage rate loyalty status, buyer-readiness stage and attitude.
Maersk Line’s market segmentation based on industry trends wherein capital expenditure increases whist returns are declining, price correlation expected from oil, and oil field services. Industry responses by having capital discipline, portfolio rationalization, canceled or postponed projects, focus on liquid natural gas.
Demographically, shipping industry plays a key role in the global economy. Maersk Line caters the largest container ports of the world. Behavioral segmentation was determined & identifiable using the social media efforts. Maersk Line operates in an international B2B market; therefore, all their social media communication is consistently done in English. It is their efforts in interacting and engaging with an international B2B audience through social media.
In Maersk Line’s Facebook, the company comes across as doing a lot of both direct and indirect revealing of the quality of their products. Factors like the company’s global reach, the reliability of their services as well as the willingness and ability to adjust to customer needs are being presented on their Facebook page in the shape of statistics, facts, photos, and videos. The quality of a company’s products or services must be assumed to carry a lot of weight when a customer is deciding the supplier to use, and therefore, it makes sense to focus some of their attention towards this on Facebook.
Maersk Line comes across as unfolding the value of their services is in the way they connect their global reach. The company frequently posts photos of the Maersk Line vessels in different harbors and waters all around the world, thereby creating a sense that no matter where in the world a customer is situated, that customer can make use of Maersk Line’s services. This is not a claim that the company is directly voicing themselves, however, as they are consistently doing these posts, it is the feeling you are left with when looking over their Facebook content.
As a result, Maersk Line’s courage and efforts to attract social media paid off in terms of money against their budget, Maersk Line hardly spent any money. Although Maersk Line’s social media efforts saved company money in terms of customer service due to fans being able to answer customer service issues before Maersk customer care team intervene. Furthermore, social media gave cultural effects on Maersk that instead of thinking more of I, its about we.
Maersk Line is now widely believed to have one of the best social media presences for a B2B company and serves as an example for many other B2B organizations struggling to get to terms with using social media for marketing purposes.
Maersk Line: A B2B Social Media Success Story