Continuity of representatives in community relations roles, transparency in communications, responsiveness to stakeholder concerns – all of these factors bolster an oil company’s reputation with stakeholders. But what about the growing array of social media tools, and how does their use play into reputation management? In Resource Initiatives’ workshop for the American Exploration and Production Council’s corporate responsibility and sustainability training in Denver on September 17, participants from Encana, Anadarko, Noble Energy, Newfield, Pioneer, WPX and Chesapeake looked at social media metrics for the major integrated producers such as Chevron, Shell, BP and ExxonMobil as well as the leading independents – and industry critics – finding a wide range of engagement from highly active to nearly non-existent.
In the age of YouTube, a few seconds of video footage from the anti-fracking film Gasland was enough to turn the minds of countless stakeholders, including US Senators, against hydraulic fracturing even when properly managed and regulated. This indicates the tremendous power of video which, when used on social media platforms, has global reach and packs an emotional punch. When companies choose not to explain their activities and address community concerns, they allow their critics to articulate their reputation and even their identity. Although Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can present a daunting landscape to companies who fear an onslaught of highly visible criticism, the risks of added exposure are far outweighed by the benefits of a supportive community with an understanding of the true impacts of company operations. In today’s digital age, social media tools are one of the leading methods to achieve this. The statistics are staggering: 500 years of YouTube video are viewed daily on Facebook alone, for example.
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