You might associate Carlsberg with their signature “HOF” pilsner, which is named after the Royal Danish Court, but I think of elephants; four elephants, to be exact— Theodore, Helge, Vagn, and Paula.
The large granite sculptures, standing back-to-back, flank Ny Carlsberg Vej and serve as the foundation of Elephant Gate and Tower.
Although these monuments were erected in 1901, as a tribute to Ny (New) Carlsberg founder Carl Jacobsen’s children, the origins of this Copenhagen-based brewery date back to 1847 to Carl’s father, JC Jacobsen.
Now, however, the stone creatures are as prominent as ever. Elephant Gate serves as a daily gathering place for out-of-towners and tourists, all eager to snap a selfie at this famous Danish landmark. And if Carlsberg’s offline gravitational pull is strong, you can imagine the far-reaching nature of their digital communities.
With over 500 beer brands in their portfolio, Carlsberg Group is focused on becoming the fastest-growing global brewer in the world—a goal that places an emphasis on creating a more customer-focused sales strategy. But in order to develop their many digital communities, as described by their “GloCal” initiative, Carlsberg needed a way to consolidate their social media efforts, and institute a scalable software system to enable greater efficiencies.
"Being a GloCal organisation is about finding the right balance between working closely together at a global level while allowing our many strong local brands and initiatives to flourish."
The Challenge: A Consolidated Social Presence
Tasked with assembling Carlsberg’s digital technologies, including the consolidation of social channels, Martin Majlund is responsible for collecting social data and creating targeted communications to increase customer engagement—an equal parts blend of marketer and technologist. Having spent the last couple of years experimenting with stand-alone applications and vendors, Martin was growing impatient.
“We migrated all local [Facebook] pages into one page and we needed a tool to organize this process,” he said. “We used a cheap tool at first and it didn’t have the collaboration that we needed to organize content from market to market.”
To make matters worse, consolidating global social media accounts, 90 at that time, involved communicating focused but flexible terms and conditions to brand and community managers. These guidelines needed to be created, and then relayed via training exercises and other internal communications.
“Being able to have all the relevant brand managers in the markets communicate properly has been one of the biggest challenges.”
Discovery: A Unified Management Process
Taking deliberate steps throughout the consolidation process resulted in a philosophy change within Carlsberg’s marketing department, and the company as a whole.
The shift from broadcasting infrequent, static messages to creating daily, low-cost content has had an impact on nearly all of Carlsberg’s internal departments—a direct result of the powerful undercurrent of social media. But, in order to achieve a sustainable social strategy, one that satisfies everyday job requirements and adapts to emerging technologies, a new process was needed.
The first item on the agenda was to create permission settings, by location and department, to make it easy for regional brand managers to interact with local markets. According to Martin, the benefit of assigning permissions, or “user roles” within the Carlsberg admin, was to enable quicker responses and to engage more frequently with local communities.
The second directive, as determined by their overarching brand strategy, was to create content that strengthened brand perception on a local level. By carefully planning brand narratives, Carlsberg’s marketing team began changing their tone. Less product, more stories.
“The platform provides a complete view of our campaigns, and the rich conversations happening across geographies and social channels, which is essential for building our diverse brands and for engaging with our consumers locally.”
And the third area of focus was to simplify existing workflows, especially with agencies and partner brands. Instead of waiting like before, Carlsberg wanted to reclaim ownership of the creative process. With faster cycles in place for daily content creation it made sense to bring more work in-house to reduce agency dependency.
“Creative agencies sit on creative knowledge and media agencies sit on the money,” Martin said. “We’ve actually had meetings where it was the first time the media agency and the creative agency were talking together. That’s not right.”
For Martin and his team, everything was starting to align. With a revamped production process and a responsive management platform, all the pieces were in place for a dramatic shift in corporate thinking—the only thing missing was a visual to bring it all to life.
“We’re focusing on creating much more share-worthy stories. It’s about us taking a step back from the regular product-orientated stories we’ve done in the past and trying to tap into real-life stories that our audiences can actually engage with.”
The Solution: A Custom Social Media Dashboard
Throughout the integration, Martin referred to three metrics to tell Carlsberg’s story: community (fans and followers across social platforms), engagement (post reach and post quality), and mentions (people talking about the brand).
In order to bake “social” into Carlsberg’s corporate mindset, these numbers needed to be widely recognized and speak to the company’s bigger business goals.
“Everything we have from social and digital is data-driven,” Martin explained. “The interesting part now is that we’ve integrated all data into an API where we can start looking at the correlation between tone of voice in digital and our brand health, and of course, our sales volume.”
But without a visual way to tell this story, to demonstrate social ROI, it would be too difficult to get buy-in. So, along with the product team and integration partner Mingler, Martin set out to build a custom dashboard.
The beer-inspired final product is a testament to Carlsberg’s creative spirit, and company-wide “Thirst For Great.” The dashboard highlights both social reach— paid, owned, and earned—and KPIs, along with four custom illustrations to provide an added contextual element.The corporate-wide impact cannot be overstated. Brandwatch President Ulrik Bo Larsen said: “These metrics are wall-mounted on a 70-inch flat screen at Carlsberg Group so they become much more relevant to everyone who works there. Even a few senior executives admitted to visiting the marketing team to find out why engagement levels dipped.”
Summary: From Integration to Innovation
From a consolidation request to a radical new process to an innovative partner, Carlsberg Group, with Martin Majlund at the helm, was able to create solutions that deliver business results.
With an impressive 49-country rollout, the platform is currently activated for over 358 users and has successfully maintained continuous integration requests, totaling 106 social channels. In addition, Martin is pursuing several different strategies to maximize Carlsberg’s social ROI.
“We’re mapping the entire digital landscape,” Martin said. “We have the tools in place, and we think we’re getting to where we have to be.”