Posts Tagged ‘twitter


week 5

This week’s lecture by special guest Malcolm Burrows (Rostron Carlyle Solicitors) introduced us to some of the legal risks and risk mitigation strategies for organizations implementing social media.

Organizations can look at social media from a number of perspectives.  Here’s a few angles:
1 – a time/productivity waster/helper – just like employees browsing the web during work time but more popular.  There are two ways to look at this.  Social media can be seen as total time waster or as a benefit to help take a quick break from work.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Richard Cullen of SurfControl, an internet filtering company, estimates the site may be costing Australian businesses $5 billion a year. “Our analysis shows that Facebook is the new, and costly, time-waster,” he said.

Richard Cullen’s report calculates that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6200 a year. There are about 800,000 workplaces in Australia.

From Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne’s department of management and marketing:

“Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity That’s not always the case.”

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,”

2 – an advertising platform – just like TV, the YellowPages,  and Google Ads, advertising using social media is the next big thing in advertising.   Most of the top brands have a presence, and Facebook brags it has run ad campaigns from 83 of the top 100 brands.   Of the 26 most popular pages on the site, six belong to corporations:

“These [efforts] are designed to foster word of mouth,” says Jeremiah Owyang, a partner with Altimeter Group, which advises companies on social strategies. “Companies cannot traverse the Web quick enough. They need to create these unpaid armies of customers to do this on their behalf.”

I think some of the best uses of this principal of utilizing word of mouth are viral videos.  This perfect example shows Marc Ecko tagging (spraypainting) Air Force One (US Presidential Plane).  So many people thought that this was such an amazing video they just had to send it to all their friends before realizing it was actually a promo for Ecko.

3 – risk of lack of control of information – many companies are having their reputation tainted or information leaked and have no control over it

The US based study by Proofpoint Inc. on the security of outbound information found that executives are spending more time worrying about workers unwittingly exposing proprietary or sensitive corporate information in though e-mails, blog posts, social networks, multimedia channels and text messages.

In August last year the U.S. Marine Corps officially banned the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on military networks. One reason cited in the administrative directive: Social networks provide an easy conduit for information leakage to adversaries.  While in January this year the UK Ministry of Defence has admitted that staff have leaked secret information 16 times on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter over 18 months.

This week’s activity requires us to:
1 – select an organization – describing your selected organization (its sector, their business, services etc…).
2 – identify some of the major legal risks (internal or external or both) that organization has a result of their participation.

British Petroleum Global is a global energy company headquartered in London, United Kingdom specializing in oil, gas and chemical energy.  The fourth largest company in the world and the third largest energy company.  On 20 April 2010 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (which killed 11 people) led to an oil spill that contaminated a huge part of the United States coast land and marine environment along the Gulf of Mexico.  Consequences: Mass damage to the environment, fishing/tourism industries and BP’s stock price.

BP quickly jumped on the social media bandwagon opening a twitter account under the name of   They were too slow though, already there was (not setup or controlled by BP).   According to Twitter stats, the fake account now has over 10 times (190k+) the followers of the real BP corporate Twitter (18k).   Major PR fail. It looks like people are more interested in humour related to the spill than they are of finding out about the spill itself. Or they just totally bought it and know none the wiser.  The risk here is the lack of control of information.  Whether true or not, the BPGlobalPR account has been spewing interesting tid bits all along the way.

“Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy. ”

“The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct.”

“I’m sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean?!? Maybe God shouldn’t have put oil there in the first place. DUH.”

And there is nothing the official BP can do about it.  Rumour has it that BP petitioned it to twitter to have the account removed but without success.  This fake twitter account aside, BP really has two problems remaining.  First, they needed to stop the spillage of 200,000 gallons of oil a day.  Secondly, they need to convince people that THEY ARE TRYING to stop the spillage of 200,000 gallons of oil a day.  BP has been trying new ways to get its message out as its conventional efforts of official statements, press releases, morning-show interviews—have been hit or miss, according to crisis communications experts.

BP has put their foot in it a number of times since the initial explosion in April.  BP initially reported to the media the damaged rig was leaking only 1,000 barrels of oil a day.  After a new leak was discovered the true number turned out to be closer to 5,000 barrels.

“Don’t speculate.  If you know, say so.  If you don’t know, say you don’t know.”
Larry Smith or the Institute for Crisis Management.

This hurt their credibility early on and it planted the seed in people’s heads.  Can you really trust BP to tell us the truth?  Furthermore, BP initially tried to pass off the blame for the whole accident.  The first press release BP pointed out that the oil rig didn’t belong to BP, but to a drilling contractor Transocean Ltd, that is was not their problem, but it would ‘offer full support’.  Later, the company referred to the accident as the “Gulf of Mexico oil spill” rather than the “BP oil spill” as noted by President Obama and the EPA.

BP may own just the oil, Transocean may own just the rig, but these technicalities are worthless in the eyes of the public.  These companies need to band together to take the fall and work out the finer details later.  For example, in 2006 a fast food chain in the US ‘Taco Johns’ had an E. Coli outbreak.  What did they do?  They didn’t blame the lettuce supplier; they stepped up and took responsibility for their product (and sued the lettuce supplier LATER).  Good news though, after a blundering start to the disaster it could only get better (they hoped).  BP created a section on its web page totally dedicated to the oil spill with photos, videos and maps to track the cleanup.  The company also posts constant updates to its Twitter feed.  While putting your half truth/lies on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t exactly make it more convincing, it certainly allows the company a faster response time to be able to respond to the latest developments as they happen.

BP hasn’t been the only one and no doubt there will be many more companies utilizing social media for many a reason in the future.  Some do it right, (Domino’s Pizza’s company president posted his apology to YouTube) some do it wrong (Nestle snarkily responding on its Facebook page) and some just seem to follow the ‘more-is-better’ ethos like BP and just pump out the info.  Companies will need to be careful which approach they choose as their success could make or break their business.


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