Did social media attack harm BP’s bottom line

Did social media attack harm BP’s bottom line

Better have a social media risk management plan

There is no brand immune to a negative event ……… it happens, that’s life and most companies plan for this to happen by developing action plans and the like.

BP stock 16022011

But in terms of bad online sentiment, it didn’t get much worse than BP’s:

  • Greenpeace, initiated a “Rebrand the BP Logo” contest. Greenpeace asked its supporters to “ . . . create a logo for BP which shows that the company is not ‘beyond petroleum’ – they’re up to their necks in tar sands and deepwater drilling.”
  • A Facebook group called “Boycott BP,” it’s urging a worldwide boycott of all BP brands and services, has drawn more than 836.000 fans.
  • YouTube users are uploading a steady stream of videos – about the oil spill – that use humor to express their anger about BP
  • An anonymously managed Twitter account – BP Public Relations (@BPGlobalPR) – that makes glib comments, purportedly on BP’s behalf, with 185.000 followers
  • The Black Oil Firefox plugin that aims to black out all mentions of BP (British Petroleum) across the web
  • Flash mob attack against the BP station on Houston and Lafayette in New York City
  • “The Halloween attack” – LI’s Fun World, known for creating the costume used in the movie “Scream”, has created “bad planning,” a costume that parodies the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
  • “Closed. Moving beyond petroleum” – In a attack against BP, Greenpeace shut down every BP petrol station in London
  • And the Lady GAGA (Bad Romance) remake song “Big Oilmance

The big question: Did the heavy social media attack hurt the sales of the company? Did the boycott movement hurt the sales?

Based on BP’s group income statement for 2010 revenue went up from 239.272 million $ in 2009 to 297.107 million $ in 2010.

BP group income statement for 2010

The complex nature of the oil industry means that boycotting BP stations would have little effect, even if lots of people did it. To understand why boycotting BP stations won’t really work, you have to understand how the oil industry works. The stores that sell fuel are simply franchise owners, people who have paid BP for the right to use the name. The fuel they sell may or may not come from BP. Similarly, other gas stations that you may now be going to in your efforts to bypass BP may carry some BP fuel. When one producer has a glut, they sell to the other producer. The only way to harm BP is to actually know exactly where all its fuel is going and boycott those stations, too.

It is important to keep brands accountable for their mistakes and make sure the world knows what is really happening behind the walls of the business. However, it is important to remember that while social media and negative publicity can be an extremely powerful thing … sometimes it doesn’t hurt the overall health of the brand.

The success of BP long-term will be determined by its stock price. It dropped to 302 in the middle of the disaster but have since than gone up to 490.

Past corporate crises teach us that companies can still bounce back if the management team do the right things.


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Did social media attack harm BP’s bottom line — http://www.torbenrick.eu/t/r/vja

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom

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