Rising fuel prices lead to social media attacks – British Gas

Rising fuel prices lead to social media attacks – British Gas

Rising fuel prices lead to social media attacks - British Gas

British Gas – Twitter hashtag #AskBG

Raising fuel costs is an unpopular decision at the best of times, but power company British Gas somehow managed to make things even worse.

Following an announcement that it was raising prices by 9.2 percent, British Gas inexplicably decided to tackle customer complaints head-on with a Twitter Q&A:

British Gas Twitter - Hastag AskBG

Using the hashtag #AskBG, British Gas was hoping to clarify the situation by answering customer questions. Instead, they got an unending torrent of angry tweets from people who couldn’t understand why prices had suddenly been raised by three times the rate of inflation. Below are just a few of the highlights:

Rising fuel costs lead to social media attacks - British Gas - #AskBG Shitstorm

The British Gas social media attacks spread so fast that there’s already an online game, the Unofficial British Gas Bill Simulator, which includes quiz questions like:

Which would you prefer? Death from hunger, or death from cold

But isn’t that what brand engagement is all about?

Looking at the whole thing purely from a communications perspective, I think it’s good that they did it. I also admire them for doing it on the same day as the price hike. Others might feel that it would have been better to lie low and avoid it, but I think this is quite a brave attempt at engagement and to deal with the issue and get their side of the argument across in a timely and two-way engaging fashion. Isn’t that what brand engagement is all about?

Bear in mind that:

  • Especially with an emotive topic like this, there will always be criticism put towards you
  • Be realistic about what you will get from the event
  • Pre-prepare short and infographic answers to the 20 most hostile questions you can think of
  • Have links to longer in-depth material to show people you are experts in your field
  • If the pre-event mood is turning nasty or critical, have someone go in to try and answer some of the questions up front
  • With an eye towards social business, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do across your company that will genuinely change how you engage with customers or how customers see you
  • Even though chats like this are a stunt, bear in mind that social media engagement is about ongoing, daily engagement

Good luck!

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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 and Switzerland.

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