How social media helps Maersk Line sell more stuff

One of the highlights of Marketing Week Live was a talk showing how social media can help sell more stuff in the B2B world. The speaker was Davina Rapaport, Social Media Manager of shipping company Maersk Line.

1. A commercial channel, not just a comms channel 

How refreshing to hear someone start their talk on social media on the commercial needs of the business. Davina emphasised that social media should not merely be a communication channel, but also a commercial channel that helps SMS (sell more stuff), or in this case SMC (sell more containers). The key measure used for tracking social media is not likes or “engagement”, it is lead generation. As Davina says, to have credibility and secure marketing investment, it’s important to “speak the same language as the board”

For example, a campaign around sustainability activated through Linked In and Twitter recruited 99 potential customers to attend a webinar and ended up with two leads. That might not sound much, but as Davina pointed out, each one is potentially worth millions of dollars.

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2. Social channel strategy 

One of Davina’s first moves on joining Maersk was to do quantitative research to establish the roles different social media channels could play as part of the marketing mix (see her sharing the results below). This showed that Linked In was the most relevant channel for the brand, especially in terms of sharing and seeking views on the shipping industry. In contrast, Twitter was better adapted to customer service updates and also for sharing news snippets with journalists. And Facebook is good for employees to keep up to date with the company. In this way, Davina and her team have created what she described as “a digital ecosystem.”

3. Focus on penetration, not loyalty

Hallelujah. At last, someone saying that social media is NOT about creating loyalty, its about driving penetration. In this case, the key role for social media is what Maersk called “attract”, which is about generating leads for new business. Growing business with existing customers is done via face-to-face meetings and email.

4. Making the brand more salient

Like most B2B categories, buying space on a commercial shipping line is a complex buying process, with an average of 5.4 people involved in each buying decision. Social media, done well, can play a role in helping increase the awareness of Maersk so it is more likely to be considered in shipping purchasing discussions. Or, when Maersk is proposed, other influencers are more likely to say, “Oh yes, I’ve heard of them. They’re a reputable company”.

5. Social listening can work in B2B too 

Maersk started to experiment with social listening in 2015. It was used to analyse reactions to the extension of two shipping routes, and the closure of a third. Social chatter focused on the negatives around the route closure, with little or nothing on the good news of new routes. This led to a recommendation to separate positive and negative news in future, to ensure the good news got its fair share of exposure.

In conclusion, Davina and her team at Maersk have shown a refreshingly pragmatic and business-led approach to using social media as part of the mix. As with the rest of marketing, the focus is where it should be: helping SMS.