While this may seem like old news to those who have been active in social media for many years, it is one of the first indicators that the very conservative, change resistant container shipping industry is ready to embrace the benefits of interactive marketing.
Here’s the article:
The Danish line is narrowing the gap as the network community proves to be an invaluable marketing tool.
Maersk Line is pioneering the use of social networking and in doing so is likely putting a huge culture clash to bed.
In an era when just about everyone seems to have a Facebook page and/or Twitter account, shipping seems to be lagging behind.
One can imagine that for the wired-in dudes of California’s Silicon Valley, there could be nothing duller than container shipping. You can almost hear them joke: how on earth could carrying a metal box across the oceans be “cool”?
Your stereotypical shipowner, on the other hand, would likely view social networking a confine for geeks. The very idea of “blasting” information about themselves or their companies over the Internet could still be considered anathema.
This gap in attitude has to a certain extent hampered the use of social media by liner-shipping players.
But things are starting to change.
The world’s largest carrier decided to take a new look at things and appointed Jonathan Wichmann as its dedicated head of social media.
It is proving a ground-breaking move. In the past six months, the industry has been transformed in the eyes of social-website addicts from decidedly uncool to cool.
The number of Maersk fans (measured in the quantity of “likes” on its Facebook page) has mushroomed and now numbers in the hundreds of thousands.“It’s pretty massive,” said Wichmann. “It’s quite overwhelming.”
Meanwhile, something has changed in the eyes of Maersk’s management as the trend grips. Evidently, the divide is narrowing. Some in the network community have taken to snapping Maersk ships and containers and posting the results online. A mural of such photos hangs in the office of Maersk’s chief executive.
Wichmann says the line had been in a “listening phase” for many years on the social-media front. It was watching developments from the sidelines but was “scared to enter the field”. Wichmann’s appointment last October signalled that management was prepared to get serious.
“I feel they were really ready for it. It’s like a success story from that point on,” he said.
Maersk has gradually widened is presence to cover over 10 different platforms — not just Facebook and Twitter — but lesser-known sites including Instagram, Stumbleupon and Tumblr — which has worked wonders in developing the Maersk brand with very senior management now also on board.
Several top executives, led by chief commercial officer Lucas Vos, now have Twitter accounts and regularly make tweets on their latest projects.
Vos says social media has “opened up a direct communication channel with the world that we didn’t have before”. He estimates that 40,000 of Maersk’s 300,000 Facebook fans are customers. “People put weight to our words. Clearly, it matters what we say,” he added. “To use these types of channels very cheaply means you can reach a huge audience.”
The medium is a dream for Maersk’s marketing heads but social media is also being used as a forum for market research.
Maersk is using Linked-in as a tool for serious discussions and to glean knowledge from industry insiders.
The benefit is “shipping experts giving free insights on social media and sharing it openly”, says Wichmann.
He adds that Maersk’s intention with all these moves “is to be ready for the future”.
While the medium may still be in its infancy, the company expects that the new generation of clients and employees “will have social media in their DNA” by the end of the decade.
By Ian Lewis London
Published: 20:44 GMT, 06 Jun 12 | updated: 20:44 GMT, 06 Jun 12