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The following is a guest post by Colin Alsheimer, Marketing Manager at LevelTen Interactive. He also serves on the leadership team for the Social Media Club of Dallas and writes about digital marketing strategy at ColinAlsheimer.com. Follow him on Twitter via @levelten_colin.
One of the first lessons we’re taught in the social space is to monitor your brand. By monitoring your brand, you’re able to respond to critisicms, complaints, or worse – a complete brand-jacking. So general reasoning would lead you to believe that once BP learned of the fake twitter account, @BPGlobalPR, who due to satirical tweets about the recent oil spill, was quickly amassing a very large following.
So when BP decided not to take action against their Twitter imposter, it initially struck me as puzzling.
Why wouldn’t a major brand, currently suffering fierce public backlash, not work to control an increasingly public attack against their brand?
The initial confusion gave way to insight as I slowly realized that BP chose the best possible way to approach the issue – by ignoring it.
Here’s why this was smart:
- Taking action against the account would have resulted in further public backlash. @BPGlobalPR ammased a public awareness very quickly. By the time BP’s real Twitter account, @BP_America got around to shutting it down, it would have been too late. BP would have looked even more the evil corporate entity. Not to mention, it would have likely resulted in a slew of more spoof accounts that BP would have to deal with.
- The level of confusion surrounding the account is low with Tweets like, “Catastrophe is a strong world, let’s all agree to call it a whoops daisy.” It’s very clear that BP is not actually running this account. Combine that with the avatar spinoff of BP’s logo, and there’s a generally low level of brand confusion. (Note, the account was originally using BP’s logo as their avatar. Early on, the avatar was changed, so there may have been some behind-the-scenes negation.)
- The satirical tweets do more to relieve frustration than provoke it.It’s no secret that people are frustrated. This oil spill could go down as the worst environmental disaster in history, making other spills like Exxon Valdez look insignificant. It’s in BP’s best interest to find ways to alleviate that frustration that don’t involve more negative PR for the brand. @BPGlobalPR is a blessing in disguise. By bringing humor and satire to the unfortunate situation, @BPGlobalPR actually serves to defuse some of the anger against BP.
BP handled the potential PR nightmare of the @BPGlobalPR in an unconvential manner, but so far, it looks like it’s paid off. What do you think of the way BP handled the situation? Do you agree with their decision not to take action against the account? Does this set a precedent for other brand jackers on social media Web sites?