Media Case Study

Who does not recognize the signature green bottle with a red star?


The flagship beer brand of Heineken International, an Amsterdam-based brewing company, and probably one of the most famous beer bottle in the world. Well, it has to be, as even the iconic super Agent 007 loves it. Heineken and James Bond franchise have been partners since 1997 in producing thrilling marketing campaigns that cover breathtaking TV commercials, smart product placements as well as stunning technology-driven social media initiatives.

Heineken is a proud sponsor of numerous high profile sport and music events around the world, including European Rugby Champions Cup and since 2005 Europe’s most prestigious football competition – UEFA Champions League.

Heineken Lager Beer’s heritage dates back to 1873 when Dr. Elion, a student of the world renowned chemist Louis Pasteur, discovered the famous HEINEKEN A-yeast, a strain still and exclusively used by Heineken as the key ingredient of the beer recipe. Sold in more than 170 countries, Heineken bottle forms a part of a large beverage family that includes more than 250 other regional specialty beers.

Heineken’s Brand Strategy

In the past years, Heineken has invested heavily in experiential marketingto connect with their fans on a brand new and more sophisticated level – the experiences level. A wise move, I reckon, as it is no secret that experiences are what people increasingly use to define themselves across social media channels.

Heineken’s Marketing Team do a great job at co-producing music and sport-related experiences that touch all our senses, often pushing the boundaries of modern technology to enable that. For example, for festival lovers, they have recently introduced customised Heineken wristbands that can light up red or green and help to choose the gig-goers which song they want to hear next – the green or the red track.

The brand’s carefully crafted social media campaigns such as #ShareTheSofa and most recently #ChampionTheMatch initiative support the marketing efforts in delivering tremendous online “talkability”, boosting brand awareness and positioning Heineken exactly where they want to be – in a place of the No1 Beer Brand associated with Champions League.

How does Heineken engage its fans? What techniques and tools do they use? We are here to explore that now.

How Heineken Uses Social Media

Let’s have a look at the social media channels used by Heineken.


Heineken’s most popular social media platform is Facebook, with an impressive number of over 20 million Likes. To give you a broader picture of the world’s brewing scene, here are other top market players’ Facebook figures:

Budweiser – 13.4 million likes

Stella Artois – 7.8 million likes

Guinness – 5.5 million likes

Carlsberg – 2.4 million likes

Heineken leads this queue. No doubt.

An important fact to mention is that Heineken has optimized the Facebook Page with geo-targeting. This mean they serve content specific to their public’s location. The regional Fan Pages are aggregated, though, so the general Likes count sums up to one impressive result.

The company approaches the Likes generating mission quite seriously and effectively. In 2012, Brazil Fan Page launched a famous real-time campaign called “One Like One Balloon” that turned out to be incredibly successful in producing spectacular fan engagement and following. The idea behind the campaign was to answer to every new Page Like by blowing up a green balloon and placing it in the Brazilian Heineken’s office space. The office space got full in just one (literally: one) day and the whole initiative generated thousands of comments in addition to more than 1 million new Fans in frankly no- time. Have a look at the campaign’s promo video here.

Heineken’s Facebook strategy is aimed primarily to deliver relevant content that entertains and engages their Fans who are mainly, but not exclusively, football lovers. Almost like a coach speaking to players before a football game, they want to ignite their Fans’ enthusiasm and encourage them to take decisive  actions – shares, comments, likes. It is a very elegant and clever strategy as it does sell beer without even mentioning the sale itself.

Content & Engagement

The global giant does make an effort to adapt each regional Facebook Page content to the cultural context.  For example, the U. S. Heineken Page uses the American English term “Soccer” as an equivalent for European“football”. Other regional  Pages often feature local football heroes. However, the general guidelines stay the same:

  • A Facebook page is a mix of updates, images, and videos related to current sport & music news and events.
  • They use Facebook Live option, for example, to broadcast a live Q&A session with brewing experts to vitalise the brand’s image with a pinch of storytelling and capitalize on the brand’s heritage.
  • They frequently engage users with attention-grabbing contests and quizzes. This resonates well with the brand’s sporty image and spectacular football game’s emotions that the brand is all about.
  • The tone of voice is very approachable, friendly and chatty. Replies are given regularly often with a Fan’s name tag. They even switch between languages to answer their Fans in a suitable language (the U. S Page creates posts and comments in English and Spanish).
  • Their content is short,  dynamic, and to the point, often served with dedicated hashtags like #‎SoccerIsHere‬, #UCL (UEFA Champions League) or #‎OpenBondsWorld‬.


On Twitter, Heineken runs multiple regional accounts, but the main ones are  @Heineken with over 137K Followers and @HEINEKENCorp that shares company’s strategy updates and promotes other family’s brands.

Content & Engagement

Unlike Facebook content strategy that builds partly on brand’s heritage and partly on music and football-related news, Twitter content focuses strongly on the football side of the business (at least now, during the Champions League). A properly thought through idea, in my opinion, as the fast Twitter feed filled with the immensity of football-related news, enables to imitate the emotions of a sportscaster reporting on the most exciting football game you have ever seen! (hint: experiential marketing )

The content they share on Twitter is a combination of high-quality sports-based memes, videos and text updates. They keep a good ratio of text vs. visual tweets that receive not massive but  a regular number of likes and retweets. They often use their Staff’s initials to indicate who created a particular tweet and make it more personal.

Images shared are usually professionally shot to maintain the brand’s “Champion League” identity, and they frequently use football celebrity endorsement to support the brand’s credibility. Like recently, they have featured David Trezeguet and Carles Puyol to make the #UCL communication more impactful:

Heineken on Twitter acts like a high-class football player, they keep the level of the game high with the professionally designed content but also enjoy the team spirit and invite their Fans to participate in a very conversational dialogue. The language is unofficial and filled with football-related terms. Everyone can ask a question here and call the brand by the “first name”. In a way, when you enter Heineken’s Twitter account you feel like joining a group of lads sitting in a pub and commenting on the game with a nicely chilled pint of beer, no other than Heineken beer of course.

They are good at building engagement with their Followers by asking them direct questions to get them talking or voting for the game results:

As well as being strictly football focused, they can be funny too, by relating their content to the Fans’ everyday situations like being at work. Jokes and laughter make brands more approachable and easier to relate to on social. People join you more likely if they enjoy your sense of humour and they see you don’t treat yourself too seriously. Plus, by portraying the situations common for every football lover,  Heineken facilitates creating a social community that shares the same experience and feelings and this translates for them into a large number of retweets:

It is quite clear that Heineken has a very good understanding of their Twitter audience. They speak their Fans’ language and therefore are able to get a regular and high level of engagement.


Similar to Twitter, Heineken on Instagram has multiple regional accounts. The main one (@Heineken) has over 156K Followers. Quite a nice Followers count has the Brazilian one (@Heineken Brazil) with 81.2K Likes, ahead of the U.S. one (@Heineken US) with 22.8K Followers. However, they aren’t quite as active here as they are on other social platforms with the last post being created 26 weeks ago.

Content & Engagement

Unlike Facebook and Twitter pages,  Heineken has given their Instagram account a completely different, more personal and perhaps more humanized touch. On a very rare occasion you will see the signature green bottle being featured here, instead, their Instagram account is more like a mood board that reveals the brand’s wider context.

Heineken’s Instagram profile is aimed to transmit different aspects of brand’s unique personality and story that often become authentic people’s stories – the Heineken’s drinkers stories. For example, the #HeadingOutWith campaign, a part of the bigger “Fans of the World” initiative, is widely featured on Instagram. It promotes User-Generated Content and presents profiles of different, sometimes unusual, social circles celebrating weekends. We can see diverse groups of people from Make-up Artists:

to “No Vacancy in LA” subculture:

Besides relevant and authentic stories, they also regularly promote their other social platforms on Instagram – including YouTube. Like here on the occasion of another Fan-featuring campaign called “Dropped”.

Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Heineken’s approach to content on Instagram targets millennials who “would rather tell people about something they have done than about something they have got”. Rather than pushing the sale, they post photos and videos to tell stories and make people relate to and engage. However, they seem not to interact with their Fans on Instagram too often, as some of the Followers’ questions are being lefts unattended.


Overall, Heineken knows how to do social media. I like the fact that they produce new and fresh content for each platform but keep it within a clear and very consistent brand message. I absolutely love that, as a global brand, they do adapt the content to the cultural contexts making it even more relevant for the audience. One area that I feel they could improve a bit, though, is their Instagram engagement both in a sense of more frequent publications as well as stronger interaction with their Fans.

What makes Heineken’s social media strategy successful? Over-average understanding of the average Heineken’s drinker. They know what his/her language, habits and sense of humour is, and therefore there is no need to push the sale. It is enough to strengthen the relations giving their Fans amazing EXPERIENCE they are more than keen to share on social media.

We recently conducted an interview with Jonathan Wichmann, Head of Social Media at Maersk Line about their use of social media and the techniques they have carried out:


Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company with operations in 150 countries and 250,000 employees. After creating a social media strategy in October 2011 under the watchful eye of Jonathan, they now operate nine social media channels with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn at the centre of it all. In this case study I will look at how they use the different platforms – the reasons for each and the differences between the various networks.


The Maersk Line Facebook page (/MaerskLine) has over 1.1 million likes with four main tabs shown on the page at first – ‘Photos’, ‘House rules’, ‘Pinterest’ and ‘Our tweeters’. Furthermore, there is also an Instagram tab which pulls in photos tagged with “#maerskline” – you can see more about Maersk’s Instagram use below. These tabs have personalised images and show the strong professional links between all social media for Maersk.

The Facebook page is run by the Maersk Line communication team for B2C use, and they attract attention and create engagement by sharing both positive and negative news (such as when they struck a whale last year – a description was posted on Facebook and soon became the most shared post on the page, with a 1:1 like to share ratio, and received mostly positive comments) – a way of showing their credibility. They also share users’ and employees’ images from Instagram and stories – to create a visual and respectable brand. The team use a “glocal” approach – with over 150 country communication managers worldwide being set up to post on the global page but with local news only being visible to their region. This ensures a simple approach which produces relevant customer communication  The followers/fans on their Facebook page include:

  • NGOs
  • Maersk Line employees and potential employees
  • competition
  • suppliers
  • regulatory bodies
  • shipping enthusiasts and fans

The posts on the Facebook page are extremely visual and regular – with each having an image or video attached. Maersk also rarely run marketing and campaigns on the page – due to it being based in communications rather than marketing.

To measure engagement on Facebook, Maersk Line invented a formula. Firstly, they take a sample of their latest ten posts, adding up the likes, with the number of comments (multiplied by two) and the number of shares (multiplied by four – as shares hold more weight in engagement terms). This number is an indicator which Maersk have used to measure against other multinational brands (and as is shown in the chart below they rate quite highly).

In the first 11 months, Maersk Line attracted more than 400,000 people to their Facebook page. Maersk Line have been a real success story on Facebook (with Facebook themselves even wanting to discuss how they created such success) – due to their engaging regular updates, business-based audience and relevant content.


The Maersk Line Twitter page (@MaerskLine) has over 120,000 followers, and only follows around 300 users. Its feed is a mix of more serious news than the Facebook page, interactions (retweets from Maersk employees), as well as photos and relevant material. Tweets are sent a few times of day, with a specialised URL shortener and media and photos sometimes attached. However, there is no direct engagement with other Twitter users, and this could show, again, a very B2B way of using the platform.

#FridayPhoto#LaustMaersk arrives as #MaerskStockholm departs! #onthemove#Singapore (pic: captainthomas/Instagram)

— Maersk Line (@MaerskLine) January 22, 2016

Maersk Line has 10 “official tweeters” (a panel of employees, including the chief commercial officer, a captain, head of anti-piracy and some business managers) who were taught the ways of the network at the beginning – who to follow, how to send interesting tweets etc. This way the company’s employees’ expertise is shown, and it creates a real social media setting within Maersk Line. Their followers include journalists, who all download Maersk Line press releases from Twitter, and the shipping press (who make up a large percentage of the following).

A great example of Maersk Line’s Twitter usage can be seen in the video below – they use the platform as a news outlet mainly, and also to show the real social media underline which is now present in the company (thanks to Jonathan):


The Maersk Line LinkedIn Company Page (/company/maersk-line) has 150,000 followers. Maersk Line found, after a social media survey they conducted, that their customers would prefer to connect with them on LinkedIn than any other network and they therefore use the platform in a very B2C manner to provide shipping industry news which is relevant to their followers (from the Company Page) and have high-end discussions in groups – they decided to engage with customers on LinkedIn by setting up groups: ‘The Shipping Circle’ group in January 2012 and ‘The Reefer Circle’ group in August 2012 (both started by Jonathan). With a few hundred select users in each (users require approval to join), the groups consists of shipping experts from around the world who debate industry challenges and opportunities – a great opportunity to gain knowledge from experts who Maersk may not otherwise meet. There are plans for further groups, especially a customer specific group or for a category of customer.

In a bid to introduce, what they call, “social commerce”, the company have made full use of the ‘Products & Services’ tab on the LinkedIn Company Page – where they describe some of their core products and ideas – and people can ‘Recommend’ these and comment too (hence social commerce). They feel it is important to receive recommendations as peer-to-peer recommendations (in websites such as Trip Advisor) have proven that they are effective, with LinkedIn allowing for this to happen without much effort.

The Company Page is very engaged – with lots of comments and likes on each post, and the social commerce has worked (a few recommendations can be found on each ‘product’). The groups is also an extremely clever idea to interact and engage with customers on a more personal level.

Google Plus:

The Maersk Line Google+ page (/+maerskline) is not updated regularly, but does have almost 2,000 followers and is mainly used for the Hangouts feature – used to hold smaller press briefings when launching new initiatives. These can hold a few (3 to 4) journalists who interact with executives on the talk.

Photography and Video:

The Maersk Line Instagram account (/maerskline) has over 45,000 followers with each photo receiving hundreds of likes. Maersk Line use Instagram as a way to promote and share their brand worldwide quickly on their page and they have also built up an extensive collection in the #maersk and #maerskline trends – sharing many photos from other users on their Facebook and Twitter pages. This continues the strong visual aspect of their social media strategy and their Tumblr account ( is a straight feed of their Instagram feed. It’s fair to say that Maersk Line are one of the strongest brands on Instagram.

Maersk Line see Pinterest as the “least corporate” of the social platforms and although their account (/maerskline) may only have 1,500 followers, it does have over 30 boards – each telling the story of a different part of the Maersk Line brand.

Maersk Line use their Flickr account (/photos/maerskline) to publish photos from events as well as another place to store their Instagram photos – there is a more professional look to their photos here. It is also interesting to see that Maersk Line only have a Vimeo account (/maerskline) for video, and not a YouTube account. However the content on here is extremely high quality, and varied – and is used across all platforms to promote the brand.


Maersk Line have had some great success with social media – using Facebook to engage with followers in a very visual and conversational manner, Twitter as a news outlet, and LinkedIn as a B2C platform in terms of Company page and groups usage. The company can boast one of the best social media presences for a B2B company and serves as an example for many organisations struggling to get their head around social.

What do you think of Maersk Line’s social media strategy? Please let us know in the comments below!

UPDATE:How to Navigate B2B Social Media Marketing with Davina Rapaport of Maersk Line

A busy night for #EleonoraMaersk at the port of Tanjung Pelepas. Day or night, our experts at Maersk Line are working to…

Posted by Maersk Line on Monday, February 15, 2016

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