For the next review of social media examples in a business to business environment, we are going to look at the online digital footprint of ArcelorMittal, the world’s number one steel company. This global firm has over 326,000 employees in more than 60 countries and was formed in 2006 with the merger of two leaders in the steel industry.
The centerpiece of their online strategy was the creation of a series of online videos to document the merger and speak to the employees as two very different corporate cultures came together. These professionally produced videos highlight regions, industries, brand creation and steps along the way in the corporate launch. And the corporate website features a prominent link to the web video site, which is a great way to promote online content. According to a company press release, “It proved one of the most successful communications exercise undertaken by the company, both internally and externally spanning 15 episodes, 544,431 unique visitors, 882,054 pages views and near 250,000 views of the video episodes.” I do wonder why less than half the visitors watched the videos.
The above is an embedded playlist of all 15 videos.
Since the goal of this video series was to communicate the message of the merger to an internal audience, they needed to make the content as accessible as possible. The videos were posted to a unique website www.arcelormittal.tv, and since they are a global company, each video features a subtitle function that allows the viewer to watch subtitles in 14 languages. These videos were available through an RSS feed subscription, as a podcast and as a download. The videos were also posted to Youtube, but the views are not a significant part of the numbers quoted in the press release.
After this initial series, they produced a second season of videos entitled “Inside Transforming Tomorrow,” to go behind the scenes of the company and examine how they are putting their brand promise, transforming tomorrow, into action. These videos are also embedded on the www.arcelormittal.tv site, but with an easy way to share, as well as including the embed code so viewers can place the YouTube-hosted videos on their own sites. While season one, now moved to its own tab on the site, spoke inward, the new season “takes a personal, more human approach where the viewer is invited to share moments of the lives of the men and women that are the very essence of ArcelorMittal.” This is meant to put a human face on the steel giant. The first video in the series highlights their investment in war-torn Liberia, which includes addressing infrastructure issues of medical facilities and schools. Another video in the second season features the steel beams made for the new Freedom Tower in New York that is being built on the site of the World Trade Center.
And there is no press release announcing a third series, or any mention of numbers resulting from the second season. These videos on YouTube have much lower views than the first series. The last video was posted in August 2008, so it appears that the series is over. There is no mention of a conclusion, and it has been nine months. This is clearly a company affected by the global slowdown in construction and manufacturing, so it is assumed that the video series is over.
The company has had a blog associated with each series of videos. The first version seemed to be more of a standard corporate blog that reported news in a more informal style than was possible for a public company to distribute in a press release. The second season blog is more of an extension of the second season of videos by bringing the human side of the company to the public. While there is very little interaction with the public through the handful of comments, the stories covered include community support, employee profiles, sports champions and the world’s largest shish kebob.
But reading between the lines of the posts finds no mention of the negative impact the global recession has had on this industrial conglomerate which has seen a drastic reduction in steel production, employee cutbacks and plant closings. They created a forum to communicate with internal and external audiences through blog posts and video, and they have abandoned them when times get tough. Honest, low-cost communications are served well by social media, and now could not be a better time to utilize these tools.
These days even companies like ArcelorMittal have a Facebook presence, albeit small. There are three different groups, one for the company, one for the employees and one for the head of the company. None of them have much activity on them and they range from 300 – 600 members each. The most interesting is the employee group, which in happier times included a photo of cappuccino with the company logo in the foam, but now includes former employees trying to remain connected.
So, in summary, ArcelorMittal created two series of well-produced videos, both supported by blogs with appropriate, humanizing content, but achieved limited success in ongoing engagement with visitors. And in these times where real connections will help companies survive, there is little to no mention of the climate in which the company is operating. We will attempt to follow up with company officials to learn more about their goals and results of the campaigns, and any future plans for social media. Please leave any comments or suggestions about this post or the series below.