Understanding DHL's approach to Social Media

by From the Top on 2012-12-21 20:51:56

Michael Sellen As we continue to take a look at the use of Social Media across the Logistics Industry, we put six questions to Michael Sellen who is the Team Lead of Internet and eMedia for Deutsche Post DHL.

Our research indicates that just over 4% of Logistics Companies globally have a dedicated Social Media Team, as you would imagine DHL's fits within the 4%, their approach is similar to those of other large Companies where it is centralized by a team of Social Media specialists.

When understanding Social Media we should have all heard the phrase ROI, No, its not Return on Investment or Return on Influence, Michael refers to ROI as "Return on Ignoring" which is the return of doing nothing.

Michael brings up an interesting point because our research indicates that 68% of Companies across the Logistics Industry have a social media presence only because their customers demand it. As incredible as it may seem, a small portion of large multinational logistics companies have no Social Media presence at all (ROI)

DHL is definitely leading the way in Social Media engagement, so we encourage logistics companies around the world to take a look at how they do it and maybe apply some strategies to your company.


Global Logistics Media puts six questions to DHL

We understand that the global logistics industry has been slow to adopt social media as a legitimate communications tool. Does DHL consider social media an important part of customer engagement?

Of course we do. We interact daily with around one million people through about 25 official social media channels. Each of these channels focus on different areas and goals, including branding, recruiting, customer service or lead generation – to name a few.

Where does social media fit within the DHL organizational structure? Is it considered a function of marketing, sales, media, or a combination of these?

At Deutsche Post DHL we have opted for a “hub and spoke” approach, with a central social media team in Corporate Communications, located at our headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Their task is to define the framework for all social media activities as well as to support and implement best practices in international business units and relevant business functions, such as marketing, sales or customer service.

What are some of the challenges a global leader like DHL faces when utilizing social media tools?

Deutsche Post DHL has 470,000 employees in more than 200 countries, making it one of the 10 largest employers in the world. We deliver millions of packages every day and handle more than 1 million customer contacts every hour. Because of the sheer size of the business, coordinating local activities and ensuring global quality standards is one of our main tasks. Another major challenge is keeping tabs on what’s being said about the brand on the social web and how our employees interact with customers on social media platforms. And of course meeting this challenge is becoming more important, because as soon as things go wrong, customers are increasingly likely to vent their frustration through social media channels.

How does DHL measure the effectiveness of social media engagement in terms of ROI and influence?

Figures such as fan numbers or number of followers are not a good indication of the return on investment – we all know that. Our approach has been to combine several metrics in central KPIs, such as awareness, engagement and sentiment, which help us to continuously evaluate the success of our social media activities. Still, it remains difficult to put an exact price on the ROI. It’s important to keep the “return on ignoring” in mind, i.e. the cost of doing nothing.

Social media has enabled customers to have significant influence on how a company is portrayed; they often talk about you as opposed to talking to you. Is this a concern for DHL and, if so, how does DHL mitigate social risk?

One thing is clear: it’s better to be part of the discussion than to sit on the sidelines and watch it take place without you. It’s the only way we can help shape the dialogue and positively influence the company’s reputation on the social web. Giving up some control is just part of the deal – it’s unavoidable. Companies need to accept that.

In terms of marketing, do you see DHL increasing marketing spend on social media initiatives as opposed to above-the-line marketing?

Companies will simply have to increase their marketing budget for social media if they want to maintain or increase their visibility. The modifications that Facebook recently made to its EdgeRank algorithm are just the beginning.

Michael Sellen
Deutsche Post DHL
Team Lead Internet, eMedia
Global Media Relations
Corporate Communications


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