So now England are out of the world cup I am back to blogging, hello WordPress, it’s been a while.
Now BP are in trouble at the moment, oil is still spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, their Chief Executive (Tony Hayward) has been grilled by Congress, their share price has fallen by over 50% in the last 3 months and, well, everyone hates them!
Among those lining up to criticise are the social media gurus, pundits and experts who give some interesting advice on how BP should be using social to “attempt to humanize BP” or how it is “not easy to find their social presences on BP.com”. Meanwhile those using the monitoring tools are lining up to give us some valuable insight… namely BP isn’t popular – I don’t think the guys at BP need Sysomos MAP to work that one out! Hell, this even made it into the NY Times which did find some nice samples of content, namely “You can rest assured I will walk before I buy a gallon of your gasoline”. Now TechCrunch is pointing out that “social media has become the message” by discussing @BPglobalPR – a funny parody account.
But really, all the openness, all the humanization of the brand with flip cams (!?) isn’t going to make a difference, here is why:
- BP’s share price has fallen due to a fear of exposure from large institutional investors who are concerned about how much MONEY BP will lose as a result of the spill and clean up / compensation that will follow
- You can’t boycott BP and if you do you don’t hurt them – they are a B2B business that sell oil to refineries who refine oil and sell it to pretty much everyone from petrol providers to airlines to guys who make water bottles and other plastic, if you boycott their petrol stations you just hurt the local franchise owner
- BP has always had an awful rep, they’re an oil company for God sake!
- But maybe we can make a difference to the politicians, they will listen and then make BP pay, well maybe but Obama is keen to decrease America’s dependency on oil from the middle east, deep water drilling is the only option, he might improve safety standards and this will cost BP some money but no amount of social engagement or social media effort from BP will change that – people died, tonnes of oil was spilt
- To engage and use social would be contrived and false, BP are bad, we know their bad, they represent everything most people hate about modern business and society, and so they are an easy scapegoat – so whatever they do they will get stick from us lot
- What the hell would they do with social media anyway? Talk openly to people about how thousands of gallons of oil are destroying the gulf?
- THE BIG ONE: BP’s customers (refineries) and investors (institutions) are not influenced in their decisions by social media – they are influenced by profit – end of.
- Openness and social engagement with the public won’t make a blind bit of difference to their revenues, but will cost them money – why bother, the only way they will recover their social rep is by stopping the leak
So what should BP do? Well, fix the leak and don’t waste your time and money on contrived and useless “social efforts” like YouTube videos of Tony Hayward or anything else. Just put the info out there, on your website, make it really easy to find, and get on with your business. Use the usual channels that your customers and investors use to communicate with them and let the lobbyists do the job in Washington for you.
So am I wrong? Let me know…