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BP Crisis, Social Medias, Corporate
BP Crisis, Social Medias, Corporate
BP Crisis, Social Medias, Corporate
BP Crisis, Social Medias, Corporate
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BP Crisis, Social Medias, Corporate


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Organization Crisis, Management, Social Media

Organization Crisis, Management, Social Media

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  • 1. June 2010 The Sting in the Long Tail An analysis of BP’s growing social media crisis SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE For big brands in hot water, there is a tried and true Facebook alone, each organised by different individuals method of handling a nasty PR crisis. It starts with across the United States and in Europe too. A month quickly and comprehensively crafting your response old, the movement now draws on the strength of more and then identifying who you want to reach with your than 325,000 committed members, thousands of whom message. If it's a nationwide product recall, you better are advocating email- and letter-writing campaigns to get on the phone with the national newspapers and TV company officials and members of Congress, or worse, news outlets. If it's a local chemical leak, regional they're organising flash protests. newspapers and radio stations will do. If only it were so easy to deal social media-inspired consumer outcry. If you are BP, how do you respond to such a vast uprising? Whether BP succeeds or not in defusing the Online activists use social networks like Facebook, uproar, it's a crisis that will no doubt be studied in Twitter and blogs on a nearly daily basis to mobilise the business schools for years to come. public in protests, boycotts and pressure campaigns directed at major corporations. Most of these efforts go nowhere. But every once in a while a cause catches the interest of the networked public and, like a wild fire, it spreads from a local issue to a globe-spanning reputation-wrecker. Case in point is the massive Boycott BP movement which now has 356 offshoots on By The Numbers Oil Spill barrels per day: 19,000 | New Facebook anti-fans per day: 27,000 BP PR (fake) Twitter followers: 119,000 | BP_America (real) Twitter followers: 10,100 Redesigned BP logos on Flickr: 600+ | BP share price: 33% drop
  • 2. Anatomy of a Crisis June 2010 Tracking the social media blowup Before we can look forward to its potential impact on BP's brand reputation, not to mention on its bottom line and share price, it's important to see how this movement originated. Here's a timeline that we've compiled by crunching the numbers of over 1,500 blogs and SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE news stories posted between May 1 and May 31 that specifically discussed boycotting BP: April 20 - The Deepwater Horizon gas rig May 21 - The first reports of oil washing ashore explodes in the Gulf of Mexico and the first on barrier islands in the Gulf are reported and gush of oil rushes out from below the sea floor. the overall chatter about the spill hits overdrive Within a few days the first disparate, individual on Twitter, Facebook and the blogs. The tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates, clamour on blogs doubles almost overnight). mainly from the more eco-minded members of the public appear, imploring the rest of us to May 26, CNN reports the existence of the penalize BP for the environmental catastrophe primary "Boycott BP Facebook" group. Blog that is unfolding and stop giving them our chatter climbs four-fold, tipping off still more business. bloggers and more news outlets who write about the phenomenon. CNN tells us there are May 1- 5 - The initial response is tepid. A few 118,000 members at the time it files its story. re-Tweets and blog posts continue daily through the first week of early May. Meanwhile, May 28 - the number of members swells to membership on the various BP boycott groups 172,000. The movement has gone mainstream. on Facebook steadily climbs, adding, at first, a few hundred recruits each day, then more, and May 31 - Still more bad news is to befall BP. Its more. To a crisis PR expert though the online big hope, the "Top Kill" capping effort, fails over activity of the pressure groups is still Memorial Day weekend. The "Boycott BP" considered fringe. In any case, the agitators blogstorm rebounds yet again, as the chart are ignored as it is believed their online above indicates. campaign remain too small to pose a threat. June 2 - a full week after the CNN report, membership of the Boycott BP Facebook group has more than doubled to 277,461.
  • 3. SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE June 2010 1, The Classic Long Tail PR Crisis The Changing Curve of a Corporate Crisis Before the age of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, the big light. This initial outside surge of interest is the tipping sting for companies happened at the outset of the point, capturing the attention of a whole new group of incident and what followed was a long tail of diminishing people, which brings it to the attention now of the interest from the press and the public alike. Such a mainstream media. After their initial stories, the scenario was much easier to manage as it was movement experiences a third life and a fourth. It's the predictable. It stayed a threat only as long as it stayed tail that contains the sting now and it creates a whole in the public eye. Once a new, fresher, bigger story new set of headaches for specialists in crisis PR and occurred somewhere else, the news media and public reputation management. attention would shift away. It would have looked something like chart 1 (above), ending with a fizzle. This is just the beginning. The half-life of these PR crises extends for weeks, months, even years more and The modern age of communications makes this has the capability to reignite yet again. phenomenon nearly obsolete as chart 2 shows. Instead, a brewing protest movement can come from The oil giant this week says it has a new plan to cap the anywhere. Often it gathers kindred followers online and oil gusher, one that has a greater chance than "Top Kill" grows slowly at first. It might attract attention from niche of containing the leak. The question is: does it have a blogs, local news outfits, anybody with some level of better solution to contain the PR problem on land too? influence and following. This added attention is just enough to push the movement into a new more visible
  • 4. June 2010 About Social Media Influence SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE Social Media Influence provides intelligence and analysis for business professionals looking to understand and navigate the ever-evolving world of online communication. Social Media Influence runs one of the longest-established social media conferences and publishes industry reports and best practice white papers for social media practitioners. Social Media Influence is a partnership between Custom Communication Ltd and Screen Events Ltd. Register for the Social Media Influence conference at: Subscribe to the weekly intelligence newsletter at: For more information contact: Matthew Yeomans - Mark Pigou -