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How Maersk Line: Became A Social Media Powerhouse

How Maersk Line: Became A Social Media Powerhouse

How Maersk Line: Became A Social Media Powerhouse

To boring for social media

Maersk Line original mission was to bring the company closer to its customers and social media was the answer to that

“In social media, people—whether it’s seafarers or CEOs—don’t want third person narratives that are pushed out…like press releases or TV ads. They expect a human touch. And if companies have that, and it’s not in a manufactured way, they will be rewarded big time.”— Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social Media,

(Katona, & Sarvary 2014).

Maersk Line was part of Maersk Group, a collection of shipping and energy companies that also included APM Terminals, Maersk Oil, and Maersk Drilling. Maersk Group has 121,000 employees worldwide with $59 billion in revenues in 2012. Maersk Line itself had revenues of $27 billion in 2012 25,000 employees across 325 offices in more than 125 countries.

Maersk Line stats

  1. World’s largest container shipping company.
  2. 15 to 17% of the market share worldwide.
  3. Transported manufactured goods, perishable commodities, and everything in between.
  4. 70,000 port calls annually to its 100,000 customers.
  5. 660 owned and chartered container vessels.
  6. Average age of Maersk Line containers was less than five years due to continuous modernization needs.
  7. 25% of the company’s business went to large clients like Wal-Mart, Nike, and Tesco.
  8. 15% to key client freight forwarders (middlemen).
  9. 50% to smaller customers.
  10. 10% to other freight forwarders.
  11. Maersk Line’s total bunker (fuel used by ships) consumption was 1.7% lower compared to 2013. But we transported 6.8% more volumes

Mobile Usage Statistics

The total time spent on social media in the U.S. on PC and mobile devices increased 37% from 2011 to 2012,8 and Nielsen forecasted that Internet users will continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other sites.(Katona, & Sarvary, 2014)

  1. 87% of millennials always have their smartphone at their side, day and night. 78% of millennials spend over 2 hours a day using their smartphones. 68% of millennials consider their smartphone to be a personal device. March 2015
  2. 84% of 13-17 year olds own a mobile phone. 83% of 6-9 year olds use a tablet. March 2015
  3. 64% of decision-makers read their e-mail via mobile devices. February 2015
  4. Currently, about half of B2B vendors sell through mobile (including stores and applications), while 3 in 4 respondents plan to offer mobile commerce by the end of 2014. November 2014
  5. Consumers are not going on desktop to share brand messages, rather they are going to mobile devices. Flurry’s most recent study shows 86% of mobile usage is within apps. April 2014


Social Media Success Formula

B2B companies who have used social media successfully have thought of the end-user first and business and revenue last. B2B companies who are social media savvy  realies the enormous reach, influence and revenues that can be achieved with an engaging social media presence. This engaging social media presence has the potential to gain new customers or people who will engage with your brand and social presence on a daily bases.

Increase Brand Awareness, And Humanize B2B Companies

Such companies have recognized that B2B companies with an active and genuine social media presence. This can increase brand awareness, and humanize B2B companies. These companies eventually become established as thought leaders, and can lead the way with their industry. This is because the said B2B company are close to their customers and listen to what they want. This close connection with customers, prospects, and industry influence-rs. Eventually creates a strong and influential fan base that achieve a long term sustainable increase in sales.

Jonathan Wichmann Research

Jonathan Wichmann was handed the task of taking over Maersk Line’s social media presence and online profiles. Given this enormous task that involves B2B companies, social profiles, platforms and end users. Before embarking on Maersk Line’s social media adventure, Wichmann wanted to learn more about the best B2B social media practices. So e studied the approaches followed by Dell and GE more closely.

Maersk Line

The power of Social media

For those who use it effectively and that means engagement content and established communities. So many company’s think there are social media savvy by just by having a page on Facebook. It’s more than that Dell set up a Social Command Listening Center in Austin, Texas to monitor social media for mentions of the brand. This gave them the opportunity to resolve customer service issues over social media with a high success rate of 98 percent.

The biggest upside, however, was the impact on branding: as customer service handled complaints in public, they turned dissatisfied customers from “demote-rs” to promoters. General Electric has also developed a thoughtful, integrated social media presence that is “informative, professional, and fun,” according to social media expert Mark Schaefer.

“GE distinguishes itself as the only leading industrial company that places an actual face with its social media efforts—Megan Parker [Corporate Communications Manager]. She effectively mixes press release reporting with 140-character wit. The real hub of the social media wheel is GE reports. com, a blog-style information center making effective use of videos and search by-topic capabilities.”

MAERSK LINEJonathan Wichmannrefina_maersk_441505a

 Maersk embraced social media

With these successes in mind it was inevitable that Maersk embraced social media as a means in which to engage with new and existing audiences to increase their own brand awareness. “The biggest challenge is that many companies see social media as a cute promotional activity when it can be a strategic marketing activity,” says Christine Moorman, director of The CMO Survey and T. Austin Finch senior professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

B2B companies also face other challenges related to social media—because they are marketing themselves to businesses, many might perceive social media as being unnecessary or even boring. B2B companies also face other challenges related to social media—because they are marketing themselves to businesses, many might perceive social media as being unnecessary or even boring.  

Wichmann was to take on that challenge and here is his Social media story

 maersk-line-Screen-Shot- (1)Faced with real skepticism from internally and externally example “When I started, as far as social goes, wewere at zero—absolute zero. People would tell me, ‘We’re not right for social media, we’re boring, no one’s going to like us, and who will support us” Wichmann with a $100,000 budget and little or no staff took on the task with Mette Hermund Kildahl on time stating our key words will be approach ability and personality.

Over time Wichmann established that “Social media is about communication, not marketing it’s about engaging, not pushing”. At this time traditionally B2B online communities where a top down structure outsourcing work scheduling posts weeks ahead with legal approval. Wichmann wanted to do the opposite. Which was to be spontaneous flexible and to engage authentically with customers on a one to one level.

Maersk Line & Social Media

“The total time spent on social media in the U.S. on PC and mobile devices increased by 37 % from 2011 to 2012, and Nielsen forecasted that Internet users will continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other sites. “In fact, a recent CMO Survey showed that B2B social media spending increased 9.6 % in 2012” (Katona, & Sarvary 2014). “Users and followers of B2B social media include employees of companies, customers, industry experts, and other general consumers.(Katona, & Sarvary, 2014).

 Social media user breakdown According to Forrester.

  1. 75% are also “critics” (commenting on blogs and posting ratings and reviews),
  2. 56% are “creators” who publish posts and upload media.
  3. Users interact with different B2B social media platforms in different ways.
  4. 71% who use Facebook for business often connect with people they know.
  5. 57 % have also liked a brand or a vendor.
  6. 51 % have clicked on an ad or sponsored post.
  7. 51 % have posted on a page owned by a brand or vendor.
  8. LinkedIn is used to connect with peers or colleagues (among LinkedIn users, 88 % have connected with peers or colleagues in the past month.
  9. 40 % have participated in LinkedIn groups affiliated with a brand or vendor).
  10. Twitter is “primarily a consumption channel” where 86 % of users who use it for business activities are reading others’ tweets.
  11. (58 %), many have retweeted what they have read.
  12. 55 % have posted a tweet, 54 % have responded to a tweet, and 42 % have sought support for a product.

Launching on Facebook

After setting up and creating and posting a few boring posts Wichmann felt he need to change his approach in order to encourage more engagement. He delved into a stumbled upon archive of Maersk Line’s digital archive with 14,000 photos of ships, seascapes, and ports.

This rich history was something I could share that was unique to Maersk. He would post a collection of photos with simple tags such as Vessels Containers, Terminal’s and black and white photos called history. In amongst these posts were posts on Maersk impressive 82% on time delivery records in Q3 of 2011 and more on the company over all performances.

Increased Engagement

This increased the engagement Maersk had with people with them now starting to like and engage with their content more. As this continued Wichmann discovered the phenomenon of container spotters just like train spotters. These people would take pictures of Maersk containers where ever they could an upload them the internet.

Wichmann decided to leverage this community of container spotters to enhance engagement. Over time there Facebook fan base grew to 400,000 thousand people with around 15-17% being customers. So on this occasion Wichmanns advice is to not manufacture stories from inside the company (Katona, & Sarvary, 2014).


Tell the public who you are through stories

Companies need to establish who they are Maersk lead themselves believe that they were boring but there engaging photo collection quickly dispelled that notion.  Focus on the end-user and establish what they want from you to engage which is the telling of stories the good and the bad. In 2013 Maersk is on ten different platforms with a different Strategy for each one. For example Twitter for news and LinkedIn to reach customers. Whilst still on Facebook their focus is now mainly on Twitter LinkedIn and Instagram that has enhanced their publication of images due to its visual nature.

The once old description of where “We are boring and no one will like us” Maersk with Wichmann’s ingenuity. Garnered 1 million Facebook fans 40,000 followers on Twitter, 22,000 on Instagram. Mediterranean Shipping Company, the second largest container company, and CMACGM, the third, had just 4,500 and 11,000 fans respectively.(Katona, & Sarvary, 2014).

In fact, Wichmann and his team was so successful, that in 2012, Maersk Line not only won the Community Presence in social media award at the 2012 European Digital Communications Awards, but also the prestigious Social Media Campaign of the Year award. According to the jury, they chose Maersk Line as the winner because the company had secured an astounding 420,000 fans on Facebook and a comprehensive presence on 8 other social media platforms in less than 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,” said the jury.

 Internally, Maersk’s Q4 2012 study showed that of the surveyed customers and non-customers (Followers and non-followers), 67.1 percent of respondents said that Maersk’s social media presence had improved their perception of the company. It is true to say that Maersk’s decision to go social was the right one. But it was only with an effective strategy was it ever going to be successful and Wichmann implemented that and achieved amazing results (Katona, & Sarvary, 2014).


Katona, Z, & Sarvary, M 2014, ‘Maersk Line: B2B SOCIAL MEDIA–“IT’S COMMUNICATION, NOT MARKETING”‘, California Management Review, 56, 3, pp. 142-156, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 22 June 2014.

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1 Comment

  • David O'Rourke Author June 5, 2015 at 23:22

    Hi Kalwinka Thanks For The Comment Keep In Touch

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