Jonathan Wichmann co-founded Orca Social, a member-based social media consultancy for large B2B organizations. He was previously head of social media at Maersk Line, a very traditional B2B shipping company in Denmark.
I invited Jonathan to Marketing Smarts to talk about how he launched a "boring B2B company" in a highly secretive industry into social media, and proved that social ROI is not the elusive white whale some executives think it is.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
"We're B2B" is no reason your company can't use social media (02:09): "Shipping is a very conservative industry. I don't think I'll offend anyone by saying that. It's very secretive, so social media was sort of the opposite of that. And I was very attracted to that sort of conflict. They decided to hire me and...insource this capability, which was a wise choice...especially for a B2B company, because it becomes much more trustworthy and much more part of the culture."
The value in social media lies in being curious as a company (06:26): "I think it's about storytelling. It's about really wanting to be part of that community or those communities or audiences out there. And you're not there just to try something or maybe make a quick profit, but you're there out of curiosity. An example like Fifth Third Bank 'The Curious Bank' in the US—I think that's really amazing that it even becomes part of the bank's tagline. That they listen and try to understand customers. That's really the upside, or how companies should approach it. That approach is really where the value lies, not necessarily in conversions and all that."
B2B companies can find success with emerging platforms and user-generated content (19:04): Social media "is an ecosystem in a way, because getting on Instagram very early on—I think I opened the [Maersk] account on Instagram even before I joined the company, because Instagram was not very big, so I was just testing it out.... I did a Maersk account without any approval at all, and that's not something people should try at home. But that has really worked wonders, because it's of course about sourcing content, and getting all of that in. Without doing any competitions or spending any money, it just became sort of a trend—and still is a trend: If people saw a Maersk container in the streets, they'd take a photo and say, 'Hey, I saw one of your containers.' So, sometimes it's good photos, sometimes it's not, and sometimes it's just really amazing stuff from...under the Golden Gate or what have you.
"Then all of a sudden, you have this very...authentic piece that you can then attach to some sort of other, maybe more corporate or commercial thing, where there's an article written up about what we do.... You can combine things that are user-generated, and do it pretty quickly.... I never worked with a content company, for instance. I just improvised and did some structures for the different channels and tried to analyze it. Then I just tried to learn from each and every post, and try something new each and every time I posted something or wrote an article."
Jonathan and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
This episode brought to you by:
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Jonathan Wichmann, co-founder of Orca Social and former social media lead at Maersk Line in Denmark, the world's largest overseas cargo carrier.