Who is controlling your brand?

BPGlobalPR: OMG This isss ridciulsus. playing a drinking gamee where we drink a shot everytme we seeee an oily birdddd!!! LOL! so wasted!!11 #pbcares
In the past few weeks, since the massive oil spill in the gulf, I have watched a few Twitter accounts band-jack the BP Public Relations effort. As of today, one of the largest faux PR account, @BPGlobalPR, has more than 98,000 followers. That is more than 100 times larger than the official BP account.
The influence of this one individual is one of the strongest I have seen on Twitter. Klout.com, a Twitter analytics engine, gives@BPGlobalPR a score of 91 out of 100. Most Twitter users will never reach 50. To be clear, BP’s official Twitter account,@BP_America, has a score of 72, but these numbers are inflated due to the faux accounts.
@BPGlobalPR has managed to control the conversation on Twitter over a team of PR representatives from one of the largest companies in the world.
Even at day 43, BP has not actively tried to join the conversation on Twitter. The major benefits of joining in on social media conversations is that you can be there to address false information and fake accounts directly to minimize overall brand damage. Sadly, BP’s Twitter account operates in one direction making it a nearly useless RSS feed.
I had to go directly to BP’s website to find the official Twitter account among the lists of fake accounts. (Twitter just verified the official BP account making it easier to find the right one) BP is struggling to find the same audience as its counterpart @BPGlobalPR. With only 9,000 followers, weak updates, very few conversations and no apparent social media strategy @BP_America has proved unable to control of the tone of social media conversation.
BP_America: We are sparing no effort to bring the well under control. I am hugely grateful to the team from BP, industry and US Government. ^Tony
The reason to me is pretty obvious. BP does not get Twitter. They have only created 344 posts to date since they created their account in April of 2009. Their Twitter activity really began after the recent oil spill. Since they have not ben a part of the community before the spill, it is proving harder for them to integrate themselves into social media, post-disaster.
They tweet casually. They do not have any focus. Their Tweets have no purpose but to repeat a variation of “Can you give us a second so we can fix this leak.” In contrast, other corporate PR Twitter accounts, like @ComcastCares, have both a purpose and a social media strategy. They address nearly every single mention of Comcast on Twitter and YouTube.
Chances are Comcast will even see this blog post. ComcastCares was created to minimize damage that social media can do to their brand and they do it by helping you find solutions. BP could start by reaching out to the public to redirect public frustration and to inspire focus on creating new solutions to make the system better in the future.
Just because BP is struggling to understand how to use Twitter, does not mean that they do not have a voice. Right now, BP_America is categorized by Klout.com as:
Celebrity You can’t get any more influential than this. People hang on your every word, and share your content like no other. You’re probably famous in real life and your fans simply can’t get enough.
Until BP realizes the power of social media you will see their account band-jacked by people like @BPGlobalPR. One of the ways they have ranked so high on Klout with a score of 72 is directly due to BP’s faux PR counterpart.  Here is how BPGlobalPR exposed BP_America as not taking Twitter seriously. This single Tweet, according to Klout has reached more than 42,000 people. See it on Twitter here: http://bit.ly/dyUi2P
BPGlobalPR: RT @BP_America – Top kill procceding according to plan. – FAKE ACCOUNT! CAN’T SPELL! If I had less than 7k followers, I wouldn’t bother.
Other Twitter users then joined in:
jayzombie: HEY @BP_AMERICA, HOW YOU GONNA FIX AN OIL SPILL IF YOU CAN’T EVEN SPELL PROCEEDING?! RT@BP_America – Top kill procceding according to plan.
BP has a long way to go until they start using social media as a tool to help them mitigate damage and build their brand. Until they hire people who understand how to use Twitter, you will see this tweet as the ringing theme of this disaster:
BP wants Twitter to shut down a fake BP account mocking the oil company. Twitter wants BP to shut down the oil leak that’s ruining the ocean.
See this tweet retreated live on Twitter every few seconds on Google: http://bit.ly/aMWtmZ or on Twitter: http://bit.ly/chesui
Obviously, BP does not yet have control of it’s brand on Twitter. It makes me think, how many of us are prepared for the same kind of PR disaster? Do you control your brand? Or does someone outside your company control it for you?

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