When Social Media Becomes a Battleground: 3 Rules #bp
Three major players have enlisted social media in the communications battle covering the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP, grass-roots opponents to BP, and the U.S. government. Each is demonstrating, in its own way, the power and importance of social media in a crisis.
The U.S. Government is taking a staid, but open social media approach to the crisis
The video that appears above is one of many being created and shared by the U.S. federal government on a YouTube channel, DeepwaterHorizonJIC.
A United Command has been established to manage response operations to the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident. A Unified Command links the organizations responding to an incident and provides a forum for those organizations to make consensus decisions. This site is maintained by the Unified Commands Joint Information Center (JIC), which provides the public with reliable, timely information about the response.
Addressing the site's comment/posting moderation policy, the site states:
We will not accept comments that contain personal attacks of any kind; contain offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups; or contain vulgar language. We will also not post comments that are spam, are clearly off topic, or that promote services or products.
A comment posted by the site's moderator, included an invitation to visitors with suggestions to follow a link where suggestions should be posted:
I've actually seen some pretty good ideas on here, but I'm only a layperson. If you have an idea on how to solve this problem, please visit the following page and follow instructions to submit your idea. Thanks! http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/546759/
It's not surprising that an Administration ushered into office, in part, because of its social media savvy, in part, through its social media savvy, would understand both the importance and rules of proactively engaging social networks in times of crisis.
BP has brought its resources to bear in the social media front, but it doesn't quite seem to understand the rules of engagement
You will find BP on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube.
1. In a crisis, social media requires that key players share the latest information, good and bad; social media pages must be updated as major news develops: it is essential for credibility, authenticity, and transparency
Even after the much-anticipated and touted "top kill" response was deemed a failure, BP's YouTube page continued to feature a cheery message from the BP CEO announcing that he had "just left the control room....The operation is proceeding as we planned it." Huh?!
Another video on BP's YouTube channel shows a BP crew of workers and volunteers arriving at a beach clean-up site, with a voice over noting that BP has described its clean-up operation as a "military-style operation." On this day, BP sent its troops to one of the locations not feature in most of the news clips, as its deployment was to an area with only small "patches" of contamination "widely spread out." While the video is plainly professionally produced, its content, which unmistakably attempts to minimize the magnitude of the disaster, only widens BP's credibilty gap as it is so completely at odds with the images of environmental disaster streaming across all other media. It helps explain why the channel has only mustered twenty subscribers.
2. Social media participants must share a real picture of what is taking place during a crisis; their failure to do so on one front calls into question everything else that they do decide to share
3. When a key player in a crisis disregards the rules of transparency and timeliness, other players will dominate the field
"official" BP Facebook page first, but, instead to BOYCOTTbp
Claiming to be a "grass roots" response to BP spill, the BOYCOTTbp Facebook page has a simple call to action: "Boycott BP stations until the spill is cleaned up!..."
We are very upset that Operation: Top Kill has failed. We are running out of cool names for these things.
More than an expression of anger is at work in the disparity of the number of fans or followers separating the opposing social media camps: it reflects a gap in credibility.