In my opinion, Warren Buffet has said everything about communications in 23 words: «It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. »
This is so true that I could hardly find just one argument against it. Some years ago, before the social media era, there could be ways to turn the tables and protect the reputation of an organization focusing on traditional media and specific stakeholders. Those days are irretrievably behind us. Nowadays the social media is a big ocean and every once in a while a couple of tsunamis hit the « coast» of organizations. On the subject of organizations’ exposure to social media with unpleasant experience for them, the first example that came to my mind the BP’s oil spill.
Given the numerous mentions of scholars and communications experts on BP’s PR disaster, it would not be wise to elaborate further on this but we could go bit further and explore some aspects of the Integrated Oil & Gas industry’s exposure to social media. The idea was to explore the social media presence of the top 30 Integrated Oil & Gas corporations globally. The selection of these corporations was based on the 2014 Top 250 Global Energy Company Rankings by Platts, which is considered as one of the most significant Price Reporting Agencies for oil market in the world.
The methodology I followed was the simplest it could be. I just visited the websites of these corporations. The findings of the research show that 84% of the Oil & Gas corporations have presence in at least one social network. Only 5 out of the 30 companies (16%) have no social media presence at all. It’s worth mentioning that the corporations from China (2) and Russia (4), with the exception of Gazprom which has an international expansion, have limited or none exposure to social networks.
On the other hand there are 4 corporations with more than 5 accounts in social networks. The social media champion of the industry is the Royal Dutch Shell with 7 accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Flickr). BP, more experienced than ever in handling difficult situations in social media, has presence in 6 social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Flickr). Every corporation has 3 accounts on average in social media.
The most popular social networks among the Oil & gas corporations are, as expected, Facebook (63%), Twitter (70%), LinkedIn (66%), Youtube (63%) and the others follow far behind.
Three out of the 30 corporations have some limited presence on social media without reference on their main website.
The Integrated Oil & Gas industry has suffered major disasters in the past with several casualties and heavy environmental effects such as the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea, which killed 167 people in July 1988, the Alexander L. Kielland disaster in the Norwegian continental Shelf, operated by Phillips Petroleum, killing 123 people, the Seacrest Drillship disaster in the South China Sea killing 91 crew men.
The Oil & Gas corporations which are socially connected probably will know what to do if a crisis occurs. After all these years of accumulated experience we expect from these corporations to handle a crisis in social networks in a textbook manner. It remains to be seen to what extent their crisis management plan in communications and social networks is feasible or not.
More charts about the presence of Oil & Gas industry in social networks are available here.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and they do not reflect in any way those of his various affiliations.