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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Maersk Line is an integrated transport and logistics company with multiple brands including a stand-alone energy division.  Maersk Line was part of Maersk Group, a collection of shipping and energy companies that also included APM Terminals, Maersk Oil, and Maersk Drilling (www.maersk.com).

 Founded in 1904 in Svendborg, Denmark, Maersk Line is the global leader in container shipping and ports, employing approximately 88,000 employees across their global network of operations in 130 different countries around the world.  This case study reviews the decisions and shortcomings of the new social media head for Maersk Line, Nina Skyum-Nielson.  

Skyum-Nielson is the successor of Jonathan Wichmann, the mastermind behind Maersk's social media successes. Operating as a team of one in 2011, Maersk Line acquired 22,000 followers on Instagram, 40,000 followers on Twitter and more than one million fans on Facebook by the end of 2012. Skyum-Nielson struggles hiring three new employees, the addition of $250,000 in social media advertising and management tools, and a budget three times the current social media budget.

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis for the Maersk Line social media strategy.

STRENGTHS

Over the years Maersk Line has invested and developed multiple programs focused on the environment, the wellbeing and safety of their employees, human rights, delivering and proving the importance and value of their approach to sustainability and drive to innovate.

Maersk's talented employees are developing and introducing new digital products and services to customers and expanding on their global network of business currently operating in 130 countries.  Holding more than 16% market share in the Transport & Logistics business, and their recent sales and purchase agreement to acquire the German container shipping company Hamburg Süd for 3.7 billion Euros as a part of their growth strategy in Transport & Logistics is demonstration of their financial strength.  

Maersk Line's distinctive set of five Time-honored Core Values: Constant Care, Humbleness, Uprightness, their Employees and their Name, all drive the way in which they do business.  Maersk Line employs over 25,000 employees around the world and their strong brand and skilled workforce Maersk delivered an underlying profit of USD 201million  in 2016, line with same quarter last year (www.maersk.com).

WEAKNESSES

Nina Skyum-Nielson although seasoned in the business as the Global Community Manager, is still a new and inexperienced social media head.  Skyum-Nielson is left with the decision if Wichmann's approach at social media was going to be her same approach.  With the addition of $250,000 in social media advertising and management tools, and a budget three times the current social media budget, there was increasing pressure from the marketing department to better integrate social media into the company's broader marketing efforts.

With the astounding success of Wichmann's social media strategy and the amount of global marketing buzz that came from his success, Maersk Line is left with the increased challenges of their competition increasing their social media budgets and increasing their visibility on multiple social media platforms.

OPPORTUNITIES

As a way to increase the brand's social media awareness, train Maersk Line's 25,000 employees to support, campaign and use social media as a way to enhance and increase the brand awareness and employee relations (Maersk : B2B Social Media - "It's Communication, Not Marketing").  

Integrating with Marketing would enhance and incorporate Maersk Line's unique social media approachability and personality into their branding and make the brand more approachable.  With a buy-in from upper management to align on common goals Maersk's Line could see a huge improvement in profit and ROI.  

THREATS

New social media platforms will be created and existing platforms will increase in popularity and in creating value to consumer and businesses alike B2B and B2C social media engagement will increase with other brands.  Additionally, as social media content marketing continues to become more popular B2B companies will prioritize their usage and engagement on social media and will find the value in measuring social media metrics against the success of the company.

Keeping up-to-date in the changes in social media and what is happening in the world in order to be able to effectively and honestly engage with your social media audiences in an authentic way.

2. Evaluate how the Maersk Line executed its content strategy, social media plan and platforms.

Maersk Line “…started experimenting with social media several years ago and now has 1.1 million followers on Facebook and large audiences on other channels including Twitter and Pinterest”  ("Social Media Works For B2B Sales, Too"). Maersk Line executed their content strategy social media plan, and platforms by delivering the right content to the right consumer through the usage of channel specific content development.  By organizing their social media channels from the most corporate to the least corporate, they were able to be more effective with delivering a more targeted message.   Segmenting their target audiences into four classifications: Customers, Employees, Experts, and Fans, they were able to develop content that was dedicated specifically to four areas of focus: Communications, Customer Service, Internal Usage, and Sales.

Through their social engagement channels, Facebook and Twitter, Maersk Line is very successful with 1.1 million likes on Facebook and 81,000 followers on Twitter.  Through their Facebook account they are able to target their ‘fans' by creating engagement through visuals and stories on a platform that is suited for this type of content raising brand awareness to a general audience.  Twitter allows Maersk Line to engage with their fans, employees, and experts, by being personal through tweeting and re-tweeting posts, sharing industry relative news adding a personal touch to the Maersk Line.

The social media channels used for more corporate purposes by Maersk Line, LinkedIn and Google+ are not as successful as their social engagement channels but do provide value and essential to the brand.  Their LinkedIn account has approximately 48,000 followers and targets their customer and expert target audiences.  Delivering industry specific news focused on social commerce they are able to communicate and engage with their customers and experts.  Google+ is a platform that is underused with only 1266 followers specifically used by press and customers for press briefings of product unveilings or new proposals (Maersk : B2B Social Media - "It's Communication, Not Marketing").

3. Why do you think the Maersk Line was so successful in social media?

“Our initial goals for social media were to raise brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, improve employee engagement, develop customer insights, and control news flow.  It was a ‘softer side' of things at first, we didn't expect to sell shipping containers through social, though we're learning now that in fact we can.”

– Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social Media for Maersk Line

a. Utilizing the existing content of their database consisting of 14,000 archived images of vessels and experiences on the water was so visually engaging to their audiences that the public, employees, and enthusiasts started to post, comment, like, share and contribute from all over the world.   

b. Personalizing the brand's voice and presence through using their social media to tell a personal story not make their posts about advertising added such a positive and humanized perception of the brand.

c. The brand shares both the positive and the negative aspects of the company as a way to provide crisis management and exhibit a positive and socially responsible brand.  

d. Leadership allowed for a spur-of-the-moment and flexible approach at social media creating an authentic engagement with consumers. Maersk Line's success is due to the buy-in from management and their support and understanding of the importance of authentic consumer engagement on social media. Obtained an unprecedented 420,000 fans on Facebook and the expansion to eight additional social media platforms in under 11 months. “The company's social media program has changed the face of Maersk Line and is an example for other B2B companies to follow.”

e. Extent of Social media platforms from their most “corporate” used social media platform LinkedIn, to their least used social media site used for “corporate” purposes Instagram, and everything in between including: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Vimeo, and Google+.

4. The Maersk Line doesn't compare social media marketing efforts to traditional marketing, which makes its ROI methodology somewhat weak. Analyze the shortcomings of the initiative from an ROI perspective.

Comparing social media marketing efforts to traditional marketing efforts can be somewhat cumbersome when you have a budget you hardly use.  The first year spending $100,000 U.S. dollars and gaining 600,000 Facebook friends and 20,000 Twitter fans makes it difficult to determine the ROI.  In order for Wichamann to be able to but a dollar value on a ‘like' or a ‘retweet' he had to rely on many different resources.  Coming to the conclusion that a Facebook ‘like' valued around $3.60 a year.  The engagement on Maersk Line's social media was about four times the amount of the average B2B brand he was able to roughly estimate the ROI on social media ROI of 1500 percent.

From a ROI perspective companies should take an opposite approach at determining their social media ROI.  By taking a step back and analyzing customers' inspiration for using and reacting to social media.  By measuring the types of investments consumers are making as they engage with specific posts or brands as opposed to focusing on their own marketing expenses they would better be able to respond to the consumer's behaviors and impulse reactions and relate them to the brand and the companies marketing objectives.  

5. What should the Maersk Line do next in terms of social media, user involvement and engagement? What areas should the company focus on and why?

Educate their 25,000 employees to support, campaign and use social media as a way to enhance and increase the brand awareness and employee relations through the encouragement of employee generated content.  Enhancing the level of consumer and customer engagement through conversation and

With a buy-in from upper management to integrate social media with marketing and hiring a Social Media Community Manager and a Social Media Manager would help to enhance and incorporate Maersk Line's unique social media approachability and personality into their branding (Technology).

6. What do you think B2B companies in North America can learn from the Maersk Line's example?  

B2B companies in North America can learn a few things from the Maersk's Line example.  Building a social media team with a strong organization to effectively support the needs and strategies of social media. Ensure to incorporate conversations relative to the industry and not focus on self-promotion of the brand or sales tactics.   Establishing social media goals to measure how well social media is performing for the company.  Measuring positive and negative reactions to posts will enable to ability to more effectively interact with consumers.  

Determine who your target audiences are and on which social media platforms do those specific audiences use. Sharing industry relevant information and company news that is authentic and engaging to the audiences you are targeting.  As the awareness of the importance of social media plays in all businesses more B2B companies will jump on board.  Those companies such as Maersk Line who jump on board sooner rather than later will be the companies with the majority of the market share of their industry.

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