By now most marketers can recite many examples of how social media has had a measurable impact on a brand, for better or worse. The BP fiasco is not one of those examples. In fact, the aftermath of the BP oil slick disaster suggests that some companies are beyond the reach of social media.
So far consumers’ use of social to rail against BP have proved to be nothing more than a lot of screaming into the void (my own efforts included). Perhaps you count yourself as one of the 650,000 fans of the Boycott BP Facebook page or one of the 170,000 followers of the wickedly funny BPglobalPR Twitter account. But as ComMetrics blog points out, BP has shrugged off social media reviews. There is nothing to suggest that social has done anything to hold BP accountable for its actions.
With the BP crisis, social has provided more of an outlet for our anger but not a launching pad to galvanize action. We “like” the Boycott BP Facebook page, perhaps post an angry message on its wall, and then call it a day. It’s as if Facebook has become a self-contained ghetto for protesters.
BP’s establishment of a $20 billion escrow fund for Gulf-related damage claims was seen as the first tangible sign that the company was being held accountable for its actions. But BP was responding to pressure brought by President Barack Obama, not by a Facebook page. And Obama’s most notable PR weapon against BP has been a time-honored broadcast medium (television).
So I think it’s fair to ask: are some companies immune to social?