How do you make the most of social media as a B2B company? Often the most obvious social media opportunities lie within the B2C sphere, however, with the right approach, those operating in the B2B market can see success. I could take up numerous pixels giving you my thoughts on how to be successful in B2B social media, but it’s far more interesting to explore a real-life case.
Incase you haven’t heard of Maersk Line, they move cargo across the globe, mainly via container ship. They dominate the market and their brand is familiar to millions. When you have such a strong market position, it can be easy to get complacent about marketing and communications, but Maersk certainly haven’t rested on their laurels. Lets take a look at their activity, its not all perfect but is still one of the top B2B examples I’ve seen.
Maersk have made a real commitment to blogging. Visit their UK site and the homepage has a panel that leads to their ‘expert blogs’. They’ve got six employees blogging, covering a number of categories that aim to educate, inspire and inform. A number of the posts are clearly aimed to attract search traffic from businesses that may be looking to use their services, but this is a sensible approach as long as there’s a balance (they also have customer case-studies). They also bring their people to front, adding a human touch to such a huge corporation. Over on their .com site, they’ve got another blog running, which does have some different content to the .co.uk offering, this is a typical approach for a company based in so many territories. Overall, their integration of social media into their sites is very good.
It’s not all about prose though, and they produce attractive videos such as the below:
Producing regular content gives Maersk a great basis for their social media activity, the quality of it is high (they could perhaps use more imagery in blog posts) and when you look at their social media activity, it goes down well with their audience. Let’s move onto their social media platforms…
Maersk are currently running six social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Sina Weibo. They also have presences on flickr, Youtube and Vimeo, but I struggle to class them as social networks. Maersk started a social media listening phase in 2011 and have since been implementing their strategy – you can read more about this here. Time to have a look at some of their platforms:
Facebook can be a very tough play for B2B companies, but Maersk are making a very good fist of it. Can you guess how many fans they have? 1.1 million at the time of writing. Not bad. Yes, a portion of that may have been bought, however, people are hanging around. We all know it’s not about the size, but what you do with it right? They post most days, and levels of post engagement are strong, with an average of 100 shares per post and over 25 comments. Post likes regularly stretch past the 1000 mark. When comparing that to their number of fans, it may seem small, but Facebook organic reach is still on the slide, and these engagement levels wouldn’t suggest to me that they’re boosting posts, so I think Maersk can be happy with their progress. Their updates are very centred around the business, and it wouldn’t do them any harm to consider curating some relevant content from other sources, but their Page is far from a ghost-town, which shows that their audience is appreciating their work. There are also some questions etc that have gone un-answered, which isn’t great, however this is still a B2B Facebook success story.
The image-led world of Instagram isn’t necessarily a natural place for a B2B brand to play, however, if you have great imagery, then success can be forthcoming. Instagram is predominately an awareness and engagement platform – you can’t add hyperlinks, which means click-through to content and site pages isn’t possible. This doesn’t mean that people don’t interact with a brand on Instagram and then head off to search for more info, but we can’t gauge that. Maersk have embraced the engagement route and their Instagram account is doing very well.
These three images have an average of 805 likes (the real currency on Instagram) and attract user comments and questions. Unfortunately, questions are often left unanswered, tut-tut. Their mix of images is strong, and importantly isn’t just a mirror image of images they post on Facebook or Twitter. Maersk are achieving awareness and engagement – soft metrics, but they key aspects of Instagram.
110,000 people follow Maersk Line on Twitter, and their tweets attract a lot of RTs, especially their imagery. There’s little evidence of dialogue with users and the fact that they only follow 380 people back could suggest they’re not focussing on building relationships via Twitter. This is shame as large numbers of people are clearly paying attention. Twitter is a very time-consuming platform, and it may be the case that Maersk are unable to give it the time it requires alongside their other platforms. I’d suggest they find they time, as their potential for Twitter success via outreach and active engagement is strong. Their Twitter use gets pass marks, just!
Their page has over 63,000 followers and is a strong example of making the most of LinkedIn’s company pages. They keep it related to their business and industry, with informative news and updates. Posts often receive over 60 likes, with a lower level of comments. Having a LinkedIn presence is becoming more and more important for B2B businesses, and LinkedIn have invested a lot in improving them over the past year.
But is it working?
Maersk are doing a good job with their social media efforts, but I can only make an assessment from what I can see on the surface. Does it generate leads and sales for them? Their ‘why social media?’ page states ‘To summarise, our main goal is to use social media to get closer to our customers’ and evidence would suggest that they’re certainly getting closer to the general public, whether a large proportion of that audience is their customer-base is again, hard for me to tell. With their goal in mind, it may be the case that they aren’t seeking leads and eventually sales via social media, but I’ve yet to meet a business who doesn’t have at least some desire for revenue from social. There’s a very interesting read here, from Jonathan Wichmann who used to be the head of social at Maersk, it looks at their #wintermearsk campaign and attempts to answer the question ‘“How can you use social media as a mass media-like marketing channel that drives business leads in the B2B space?”. They generated 150 leads from this activity, which is a huge amount in their industry according to Jonathan. This was one campaign, and the fact that they had social media platforms in place with sizeable audiences will have helped to amplify the success of this work, starting from scratch would have likely been a much harder play. It’s so important to build a relevant audience that can act as a basis for success, you’ll struggle to make any campaign impact otherwise, without paying through the nose.
There we go, a good job by the container giants, I’ll be keeping an eye on how they progress their social media work over the coming months. Do you have a great social media B2B example? Please do share below!
Want our blog posts delivered directly to your email inbox? Sign up here!
Follow Velocity Digital on Twitter – Follow @VelocityDigi