At least BP covered all their social media bases. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitter and even Flickr. In a crisis situation such as the Gulf oil spill (you may have heard about it) social media outlets present a unique opportunity to circulate company messages in a timely and focused manner. Concerned citizens can get updated information directly from BP in the company’s voice, without an attached agenda of news networks. Information directly from the horse’s mouth – what a wonderful thing!
And surprisingly, as noted in NPR post, BP has been good about sharing information using social media, however their messages and tactics have not stood the test of time. Meaning (strike number one) BP rushed out information using social media channels that turned out not to be accurate and (strike number two) they put out the same information using social media channels as they released through more traditional PR channels like news releases.
Broadcasting the same information over both social media and traditional channels is a completely viable strategy and messages should be integrated, but social media (especially in a crisis situation) requires a little something extra: conversation. BP is just talking at people, which is okay for an ad campaign, but not very effective on Facebook where people want and expect interaction and conversation. No one likes being ignored, especially over such an emotional and serious issue like the oil spill. And with their anger building, many people are flocking to satirical, negative Facebook and Twitter pages like Boycott BP and @BPGlobalPR to vent their anger and avoid a lot of the inaccurate spin that BP’s PR team is pushing out.
So BP, in addition to washing pelicans and hermit crabs and stopping the bajillion gallons of oil shooting into the Gulf every second, needs to revisit their social media strategy or risk #failure in yet another aspect of this tragedy.