A.P. Moller–Maersk Group, also known as Maersk, is a Danish business conglomerate. Maersk Group has activities in a variety of business sectors, primarily within the transportation and energy sectors. It has been the largest container ship operator and supply vessel operator in the world since 1996 with operations in 150 countries and 250,000 employees.
Some Background And Objective Behind The Facebook Campaign
The Danish company started using social media as an experiment back in 2011 just to see how their experience would compare with other such campaigns that were run routinely by B2C companies. An early assumption was that a Social Media Marketing campaign will not pan out in much the same way for B2Bs as it did for B2Cs. In 2011, still unsure of the impact social marketing would have in gaining them additional leads, Maersk launched a campaign on Facebook. Objective was to engage their Facebook audience using a strong visual that they could relate to 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.
Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social Media at Maersk, when devising the strategy had the following in mind:
“Let’s tell the story that’s out there in a very visual way, engaging as many people as possible via our social media accounts (and even using the hashtag #wintermaersk to highlight it). If people want to read more about they should of course have that option so we will always include a link to the article. And then, if it just so happens that a potential customer (or an existing one for that matter) is reading and want to learn more about the service behind the story then they can of course download a brochure by clicking one step further.”
The strong visual that Maersk went with was of the Baltic Sea. Every year the Baltic Sea freezes over making it extremely difficult for shipping companies to navigate the icy waters to arrive on time in the Port of St Petersburg. Maersk knew that they had an advantage over the other shipping companies as they were particularly good at navigating these waters and keeping the cargo flowing. Maersk decided to highlight this advantage and use it to lure in potential customers by advertising this added benefit of trusting Maersk for timely deliveries even in challenging conditions.
How was this achieved? First, Maersk instructed their Russian office to take pictures of ships facing extreme circumstances in the Baltic Sea. Pictures like the one copied below were added to Facebook.
A filter was added on Instagram to make the photo look even more intense. After being shared on Instagram, Maersk also shared this photo on Facebook.
Second step was to write [somewhat] objective articles about the challenges shipping companies faced in the Winter months and explain what Maersk did to successfully navigate these conditions.
Lastly, within the articles, links were placed leading to a download form on Maersk’s website requesting for a brochure developed about Maersk’s anti-freeze services.
When users clicked ‘Download’ after filling in their details, they automatically became a ‘hot lead’ and Maersk’s local Sales people got notified immediately so they could follow-up on these leads.
In short, a simple layered approach (Social Media –> Article –> Brochure Download –> Hot Lead) was applied by Maersk ensuring relevance for its audience at all stages of the campaign.
Reasons behind opting for this simple yet effective approach:
1) Marketers behind the campaign felt the story seemed visually strong and relevant to a broader audience.
2) Maersk wanted to use the potential of the social networks to reach out to friends of friends who might be potential customers.
3) The company wanted to keep the costs down.
In the short-term the campaign resulted in 150 unique leads which is a lot of leads for a business in this sector. The campaign also taught Maersk how to leverage the potential of social networks and made them believers in the power of social media marketing.
After the successful Facebook campaign in October 2011, under the watchful eye of Jonathan, Maersk have had some great success with social media. Facebook following has increased to over 2m fans as Maersk has continued to engage with followers in a very visual and conversational manner. Maersk has used Twitter as a news outlet and LinkedIn as a B2C platform by hosting their Company page and groups usage directly on LinkedIn.
The company 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 organisations struggling to get to terms with using social media for marketing purposes.
Maersk now has more than 2m Facebook fans (of which around 15% are customers), 120,000+ Twitter followers and 150,000+ followers on LinkedIn as well as active accounts on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Google+.
According to a global study, in June 2013, Maersk was second only to Lego in terms of engagement on Facebook.
What can be learnt from this?
Social Media marketing is relevant across all industries, not just B2C. Facebook, Twitter and the likes can be leveraged successfully by B2B firms as far removed from the average Facebook user as Maersk is through effective story-telling using short, relevant articles with strong visuals to engage a target audience. Marketing in the form of social networks can also be an economical way to gain new leads for any business in any industry.
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