Energy companies need to fuel up their social media game

Energy companies need to fuel up their social media game

Sometimes it seems the oil patch is constantly losing in the battle for public opinion.

Energy giants often take a beating in public image and branding by failing to be at the top of their game. More importantly, they also need to get into the digital game.

A report by Brandwatch, a social media monitoring company, recently collected data from millions of online sources and ranked the brand health of the biggest petroleum, oil and gas companies online. A few companies stand out.


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Brandwatch

The top 10, in order, are:

  1. Shell
  2. Saudi Aramco
  3. ExxonMobil
  4. Total
  5. Repsol
  6. BP
  7. Chevron
  8. Indian Oil
  9. Petrobras
  10. NNPC

Brandwatch’s Social Index explains the importance of doing well on social media.

“Today’s conversations are increasingly interconnected, global and fast – political discourse is no exception,” states the Brandwatch report. “With the ubiquity and extensive reach of social networks, individuals around the world use the internet to voice their opinions and responses to agencies, political events, and the future of their government.”

Brandwatch says looking at public sector conversations online, it becomes apparent why audiences might not be paying attention.

“Within the millions of mentions of national and international agencies posted online each month, public sector establishments consistently comprise less than two per cent of the voice, leaving audience crises unaddressed, concerns unanswered, and important trends ignored.”

Brandwatch scored the energy companies on the following list of factors:

  • Social Visibility – The volume of conversation a brand generates on social media
  • Web Visibility – The volume of conversation a brand generates across the web, including blogs, forums and news outlets
  • Net Sentiment – The ratio of positive-to-negative statements surrounding brands online
  • Reach Growth – The growth of the brand’s following over the period
  • Engagement & Content – How effective the brand’s social strategy is at engaging its audience

Companies in the energy industry have been slow to jump aboard the social media and digital train. But for those that want to improve their brand are advised to pay close attention to each of those categories and consider what they can do better.

“Energy companies are by definition very conservative and cautious,” says Doug Lacombe, president at Communicatto, a digital advertising agency in Calgary. “As a result, many have been hesitant to jump into the melée of social media.”

With the decline in mainstream media, however, these companies are almost being forced to find other channels to reach the public directly, he says. “Some jump in with enthusiasm and others are being dragged in by necessity.”

Lacombe says many senior managers don’t see the value in communications and “radical transparency” (i.e., extreme transparency).

“Their online presence betrays that malaise and lack of engagement, which we see as brand-damaging,” Lacombe says.

Properly integrated campaigns can benefit from the amplification that digital media provides. Brand health is increasingly being dictated through social media and digital channels, yet too many companies still treat traditional media and digital media as separate projects.

“Just adding a few tweets to every plan is not true integration.”

Lacombe says too many companies still use social/digital in “broadcast mode.” As a result, engagement is low and sentiment is unfavourable.

“When I hear phrases from management like, ‘Just blast this out on our social media channels,’ I just shake my head,” he says. “Is this how you think you make friends and influence people?”

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