New research reveals world’s largest shipping companies failing to navigate web in a crisis

Ahead of London International Shipping Week (11th-15th September), research has found the world’s largest shipping companies are “falling short” when it comes to their approach to digital communication, leaving their brand and reputation vulnerable in the event of a crisis.

According to analysis of data available from some of the world’s biggest shipping organisations by European award-winning Issues and Reputation Management agency Acceleris, many are facing choppy waters across a number of categories when it comes to online communication and are failing to maximise on the potential of digital media to both build their brand and safeguard their reputation in the event of a major incident.

Acceleris’ Insights division, which uses digital analytics to inform communications strategies, analysed the available website analytics from the top 10 shipping companies across the globe, looking at parameters including: search engine optimisation (SEO), site performance, user experience, social and security amongst others.

Rating each of the parameters from A-F, the findings have revealed that whilst shipping companies are investing millions to bolster their websites against incidents of cyber-crime, many are falling short when it comes to harnessing digital and social media to effectively engage with key stakeholders and their markets.

With an average grading of D, the area companies require the most improvement is on their social media channels, closely followed by the user experience on websites. Analysing the range of channels the companies are utilising and the engagement they received from audiences, the findings reveal large discrepancies in the sector.

While some companies such as Maersk lead the industry when it comes to social, holding regular Facebook live events, with nearly 2.5 million page likes, the majority of the biggest firms analysed had little or no social media presence whatsoever. This is despite the fact that according to this year’s Global Digital Report, more than half of the world’s population – 3.77 billion – now use the internet, with over a third of population (2.80 billion) now using social media.

According to recent research, the reputational value of UK listed companies alone is worth £1.7 trillion.

Acceleris Managing Director, Louise Vaughan said: “With shipping companies investing millions in bolstering their cyber security, our findings highlight the importance of including consumers and stakeholders in this journey as the sector increases its digitalisation.

“In the norm, shipping doesn’t attract widespread public or media interest but in the event of a major incident user generated content will appear within minutes on Twitter and YouTube. Employees, seafarers and onlookers have the ability to capture footage on the spot. When this happens it’s imperative that digital communications across owned and social media should be responsive. Research has shown that a fifteen minute delay in a crisis response extends the online conversation by over an hour.”

“From our work in the maritime sector, we’ve found that these audiences engage better if companies are inclusive with their marketing activity. Consumers should be driving and dictating engagement with brands, and digital marketing is ideal for this. Whether it’s through their mobiles on apps, through blogs or on social media, there’s a strong opportunity for even the largest companies to give audiences what they want. With 94% of internet users having at least one social account, it’s not difficult to overestimate the potential the maritime sector has.”