Maersk Sails Ahead: Container Shipping Company’s Successful Approach to Social Media

akarim    October 7, 2014

The first Triple-E passing Port Said in the Suez Canal on its maiden voyage. #worldslargestship #TripleE #MaerskMcKinneyMoller #maersk #maerskline #Suez #container #ship #vessel #Egypt
Image courtesy Maersk Flickr page.


Transportation, container shipping

Maersk Line is the global container division of the Danish A.P. Moller – Maersk Group. Founded in 1928, Maersk Line is considered one of the largest container shipping companies in the world. Maersk Line employs approximately 25,000 people, operates over 600 vessels and has ports in almost every country in the world.

Maersk Line began developing its social media strategy in 2011. Up until then, the company approached social media cautiously as it was still in a “listening phase.” Maersk Line has gone on to produce successful campaigns over a number of social media outlets including Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus. The company also manages a YouTube channel, Tumblr blog, Flickr gallery and an account on a twitter-esque Chinese micro-blogging website called Sina Weibo.

Here’s a video by TheExchange4Fls on YouTube, describing the importance of employee engagement with social media marketing, and how your employees are essentially social media ambassadors for your company.

Strategy and Approach:
Maersk Line’s approach to social media can be described more as a “social business” rather than just “social media.” In an Altimeter business report titled “The Evolution of Social Business,” Li and Solis define the term social business as:

“The deep integration of social media methodologies into the organization to drive business impact.”

Maersk Line’s unique social media strategy was born from the desire to directly communicate with both customers and employees. Main goals include attaining higher employee engagement, encouraging brand awareness and utilizing high-level insights from international shipping experts.

“Social media is about communication, not marketing. It’s about engaging, not pushing. And social media is definitely not just about the media side. For a company like ours, social media creates more value when it challenges the way we think and interact. In fact, social media is a mindset, a way of thinking and working together. It’s based on the fact that we are social animals, and that means we can only benefit from sharing out thoughts and ideas with each other.”
– Maersk Line

With this mindset of curating content for the purpose of communication, the company went on to win multiple awards, including “Social Media Campaign of the Year” at the 2012 European Digital Communication Awards held in Berlin. In just 11 months, Maersk Line gained 420,000 fans on Facebook and a well established fan base that reached 8 other social media platforms.

Social Campaign:
A 2013 IBM report that surveyed 4,000 C-Suite executives found that 71% of people see a shift towards a more social collaboration. This shift is clearly seen in Maersk Line’s approach and execution of social campaigns throughout multiple outlets. Not only does the company utilize its employees to produce content for social media platforms, it also attracts and make use of user-generated content.

Each social media account is essentially a separate campaign, but all provide excellent outlets to encourage employee engagement, communication with customers for crowd sourcing ideas, social support, and curating authentic content. Some examples of employee involvement through social media:

Run by a panel of employees with an array of diverse expertise; this helps create transparency through employee engagement as they are able to deliver content for public relations, discuss industry news, and interact with customers.

Used as a forum to connect employees with customers and shipping experts to discuss issues affecting the container industry. Considered “quality discussions,” topics range from piracy to technology.

Photo sharing websites like Instagram act as a hub for continuous user-generated campaigns. Employees and customers submit pictures with hashtags and upload to the account. This encourages brand awareness through candid photography.

Lessons Learned:
– High employee involvement generates authentic transparent content
– Content created for communication and dialogue rather than product promotion is generally well received
– Organized and consistent business strategies work best with social media
– User generated content helps promote brand awareness

Submitted By: Alisha Karim – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.

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