The Guide To Using Social Media For Oil & Gas
THE OIL & GAS IQ GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA IN OIL AND GAS
From recruitment to advertising, to announcing new initiatives and even damage control, social media is a tool that the oil and gas industry can put to good use. In this Oil & Gas IQ guide learn about the pivotal role social media can play in the energy, oil and gas industry, tips to building your social media strategy and how you can get the best results.
THE WORLD IS SOCIALLY ENGAGED – ARE YOU?
Social Media. To billions of people across the world, social media is an integral part of their daily lives and a way to communicate and to engage with people and organisations that are important to them. But to the oil and gas industry these two words can often be perplexing and even terrifying!
A prevailing concern is why would the industry want to be in constant communication with the public? Especially a public that is often sceptical and occasionally hostile when it comes to the oil and gas industry. The thought of near instant and direct channels filled with potential anti oil and gas sentiments can leave many thinking that engaging in social media is just asking for trouble.
But this is not the case!
What is interesting is that it appears that professionals working in oil and gas are generally already engaged in social media and see the benefits. A joint Microsoft and Accenture study revealed that close to 75% of oil and gas professionals appreciated the value of social media and collaboration tools in their work. This was an 83% jump compared to a similar poll the year before.
Of the 275 professionals profiled within national, international and independent oil and gas companies, 37% said social media and related tools boosts productivity, 95% claimed it helped them with work flexibility and over 36% said that social media helped them to complete projects on time and on budget.
Unfortunately while it seems oil and gas workers are on board with social media, it is not quite the case when it comes to embracing social media at the corporate level with half of those surveyed claiming their companies restrict the use of many photo-sharing and social networking services.
Just 11% of social media adoption is driven by the executive suite and predictably 39% were worried abut the ability to control or provide a secure environment.
“With fewer resources overall and colleagues scattered across continents, it is no surprise that oil and gas professionals are increasingly turning to technology to connect and share information. However, we recognize that securing company data and intellectual property are obviously key company priorities, and there are many corporate collaboration technologies today that achieve both goals.” Craig Hodges, GM of U.S. Manufacturing and Resources, Microsoft
“The survey shows that companies are not realizing the strategic benefits from their collaboration tools investments such as increased workforce performance, improved sharing of knowledge or skills across the work force... To realize the full potential of collaboration investments, companies need to change work processes and individual roles while training their employees on how to achieve improved business performance through collaboration.” Craig Heiser, Accenture
“The challenge we have with exploration is that we have people positioned globally to explore for oil and gas. Eighty percent of our teams are global teams, with members in multiple locations around the world. We must offer world-class collaboration capabilities so that our people can work at a global level.” Johan Krebbers, Group IT Architect, Shell
SOCIAL MEDIA IS A GLOBAL PHENOMENON
At present over three billion people worldwide have internet access. Of that number, two billion are active social media
users. Clearly this is not just a Western trend.
The rise of smartphones and other mobile devices has seen social media penetration increase in regions where internet adoption has previously been slower.
The Pew Research Center revealed that nearly two thirds of Americans use social media sites and this growth has been parallel with an increase in older users. In 2005, 2% of seniors used social media. By 2015, it had jumped to 35%. Every other age group have also seen dramatic rises with the highest usage represented by those in the 18-29 age group.
Social media has transcended both age and geo demographics. According to a survey by the UAE based social network, dudu.com, B2B interactions on Social Networking sites in the GCC region are increasing rapidly:
- 35% of web users in the GCC use social media sites for business purposes with 16% of users in using social media to discuss products, services and brands.
- 93% of users in GCC find social media sites for business purposes effective and useful.
"B2B interactions on Social Networking sites have a different approach than B2C and can be utilised to generate awareness, build thought leadership and strengthen the brand. As brands begin to explore the potential of their presence on Social Networking sites, the efforts to maintain a constant channel of communication are visible across the board. Communication is personalised, responses are immediate and content shared is tailor-made to suit their target audience." Alibek Issaev, Founder & Owner, Dudu.com
WHY OIL AND GAS CANT IGNORE SOCIAL MEDIA
Most people use social media whether it’s for communication or as a way to keep up to date with news and information. Many companies therefore view it as a means for friends and family and not for businesses. It can then be easy to understand why major industries including oil and gas have often dismissed social media.
Do you think the Oil & Gas Industry uses social media effectively?— Oil & Gas IQ News (@OilandGasIQ) June 23, 2016
But social media is starting to replace traditional media outlets. What is interesting is that it’s not just an arena for news to be shared but also a place where news is created and broken. Twitter was the first outlet to announce Osama Bin Laden’s death whilst a Facebook update revealed the beginning of the Arab Spring uprising and revolution.
When so much of the world is looking to social media to find out the latest developments in the world it is vital that the companies who are involved in shaping that world are represented and accounted for. If not it will be someone else who will be voicing their opinions on your behalf. A voice you don’t have any control over. If you are not part of that conversation you won’t be able to defend your position or have your say.
There are demographics that are large in numbers who are active in social media (i.e. young voters, women, etc.) that the oil and gas industry must reach out to in order to improve its image.
There is a sizable population that is very cynical and sceptical when it come to the energy business.
Oil and gas companies should get involved in more honest and positive communication with this audience. This can sometimes open up difficult conversations but it is better to be seen talking about them then hiding. That will only further harm the industry’s image.
With contentious issues such as fracking or oil spill disasters, it is important that the oil and gas industry is seen as being actively involved in communicating with the wider public. Listening to their concerns and addressing them in a transparent and open manner. Oil and gas must view social media as an opportunity as opposed to a burden. An opportunity to clear up facts and to build trust with the community and not seen as a frustrating activity that has been forced upon them.
When several Colorado towns voted to restrict hydraulic fracturing, a Forbes report observed how social media had played a major role in mobilising public support against fracking, noting social media was a “one-way street dominated by the anti-fracking community,” and that there was “no engagement by industry.”
What a wasted opportunity for the oil and gas industry to engage and address these concerns.
Instead of ignoring these posts, an engaged and socially committed oil and gas company could get involved and help change perceptions. A tweet or Facebook post can have a major impact if the message is valid.
With so many users on social media including both potential customers and influencers it is clear that the oil and gas industry can’t afford to ignore them. The world is very moving very fast towards a digital future and any company that ignore this will be sitting in the side-lines watching their competitor’s race past them.
“If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less.”
THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR OIL AND GAS
Ok you’ve read the stats but why should YOU use social media? Although a lot of business uses social media to sell products, the oil and gas industry has to think about how it uses social media in a different way. You can use social media to make money but it is perhaps more powerful for the oil and gas industry as a means to connect, educate and engage with the world.
This might not correlate to direct revenue but by using social media to improve your industry and community standing you can realise greater business success.
Here are our key benefits of using of social media in oil and gas.
Educate both the industry and the public and you will see your organisations’ perception shift from that of vendor or operator to thought leader. Facts, survey results, statistics and other insight will separate your organisation from others in the field and that perception of expertise is what will help you build new business and projects. Use these platforms to also dispel myths and misinformation surrounding the industry and build trust with the public by championing the positive aspects of the oil and gas business.
Press releases can often be boring! If you have something you want to shout about why not embellish those releases as a YouTube video or via Facebook post? Post your press releases on your LinkedIn Company pages and everyone who follows your company will get an immediate update. When it comes to social media think how can each platform be used to get your message across in the most interesting and useful way. If you post these kind of updates often you will grow your followers, subscribers and likes. That is a captive audience and passionate audience who has bought into your offerings and is eager to hear more – don’t disappoint them!
PROMOTE GOOD NEWS
When you have good news, social media is the ideal platform to share it. Interesting costs can quickly go viral and you can post updates as frequently as you need to. There are a lot of cheerleaders in the industry who will want to share your good news. Highlight community initiatives, good results, scientific innovations and technological breakthroughs.
NAVIGATE BAD NEWS & BUILD IMAGE PERCEPTION
But some times bad news has to be dealt with and social media is an essential tool to present your company as a transparent and responsible organisation that is taking the right steps to solve negative stations such as oil spills or industrial accidents.
The industry often has a negative perception so use social media to highlight the good work you have be doing as well as your own corporate responsibility practices. Positive updates can help rebuild brand images and remove negative stigma. The public will be more willing to accept a company that communicates in an honest and open fashion.
Platforms such as LinkedIn are perfect tools for recruiters in the oil and gas industry to find new and exciting talent. Not only can you search profiles and compare skills you can also find out what kind of roles people are looking for. Connecting via social positions you as a modern organisation.
Recruiting via social can also help with the scope of your search. If a vacancy is shared socially it can quickly expand your potential search. Using social media can also help you show off your benefits and opportunities as an employer making your organisation more attractive to grade A talent.
Once you have found your new talent via social media now is the time to make them feel more connected and empowered! Use social media to build your own private or public hubs and groups where employees can share their own experiences, real time information, network with collages in other regions and highlight best practice.
Highlighting key influencers within your organisation and presenting them as a one of the public faces of your company is a very effective way to communicate your company’s’ values and successes in a friendly and natural manner.
PROMOTE PRODUCTS AND SOLUTIONS
Use social media to launch and support new solution and products. Use the mixed media formats available to your benefit – videos for product demos, infographics for statistics and benchmarks, eBooks for in depth analysis, text posts for quick updates, sales and discounts.
You can do all of this for free but advertising on social media is also possible and is an unparalleled method (along with Search Engine advertising) to reach very targeted audiences.
WHO HAS USED SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY IN OIL AND GAS?
Over the past few years I have seen a significant uptick in the number of oil and gas companies using social media. This is a positive trend and as these companies engage in more social media activities and gain a better understanding of what works this is a trend that will continue to grow.
There have already been a number of success stories. These companies have helped to shift perceptions and help improve the image of the industry. Here are a few highlights from oil and gas companies that are winning with social media.
Followers of Shell across their many Twitter pages will see why they are leaders in social media in the oil and gas business. They don’t focus on one theme but instead offer real insight into the companies activities highlighting business, technical and broader content that reaches beyond the oil and gas industry. Showcasing the good work they are doing in communities and the programmes they offer their staff is a great way to present their brand. The frequency and variety of their content means their platforms are always fresh and interesting and this brings back their followers again and again.
Statoil engages in many social media platforms and they boast large following across many of them. But of note is their LinkedIn group: Energy Innovation by Statoil. Unlike some other corporate LinkedIn groups, Statoil encouraged quality debate by seeding interesting questions and this empowered members with solutions and information in an organic setting. Statoil improved its engagement and positioned itself as an innovator through conversation and discussion.
In a unique offering, Chesapeake offered regional Facebook pages focusing on specific US shale plays. This bold initiative gave the communities in places like Eagle Ford, Utica, Barnett, Haynesville, Marcellus and Rockies a voice to engage directly with the company. This could easily backfire but instead gave the company a more transparent and responsible identity allowing them address residents’ concerns and questions in a progressive manner. This kind of activity helps foster relationships and build trust.
TOP TIPS TO USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR OIL AND GAS
You’ve decided to use social media but how you do determine best practice for social media marketing in the oil and gas industry? Here are our tips to getting the most out of social media.
WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?
Before you start any social media activity first decide what it is that you want to achieve. Here are few ideas: building brand awareness, boosting web traffic, generating leads, driving sales, customer services, offering information, thought leadership and to communicate with other companies.
A good way to manage social media is to come up with a plan to figure out when and what you are going to post and to what channel. This will also help you ensure you spend time on social media in a consistent fashion.
CONVERSE AND ENGAGE WITH RELEVANT CONTENT
Contribute to the conversation and offer helpful, interesting and unique information and news. This will help position you as an expert in your field and a company worth following online. If you only post non-stop links to your brochure or sales sheet you will find very few people will be willing to follow your posts or interact with you.
CONSISTENCY & FREQUENCY IS CRITICAL
Don’t think your job is done once you've sent our a tweet! You cant put your feet up just yet. Social media requires consistent and frequent updates. If you cant spare much time focus on the times you can but keep it consistent and regular so you audience become familiar with your posts. The more content you share the bigger our social following will grow.
Don’t sign up to every social channel. This kind of scattershot strategy will backfire. Instead figure out what your goal is and which social platform is the best fit to help you accomplish that goal. Stick to the ones that you have the time to be active on. Its better to have two or three really engaged networks than ten social ghost towns.
It might be worth looking into automation tools like Hootsuite to help schedule your social media. This can help your organization active on social media around the clock. Be careful not to just automate all your posts. You still need the human element and the ability to reply and response and jump on emerging trends. Use automation as a back up and complementary tool and not your main social offering.
DON'T GIVE UP!
You might not get amazing results straight away but stick with it. Social media is all about building communities and this takes some time - but the pay off is worth it. More customers, better brand image, more revenue and more interest in your organisation.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Find out what people are talking about and what hashtags and topics are trending. This will allow you to jump into these existing conversations and steer them your way.
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
Where is your audience based? If it’s the Middle East then posting work related posts when that audience is enjoying the weekend won't work. Try and work out what times and days of the week your audience will be the most engaged. This means doing a bit of testing. In the UK, Quicksprout’s research claimed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 7 - 8 am and 5 - 6 pm are the best time to post social media updates.
The oil and gas industry often faces negative publicity. Focus on the positive and champion good news. Connect with other users who have a similar outlook and help foster a better perception of the industry. Don’t engage in with "trolls" - this will just tarnish your organization.
KEEP IT SNAPPY
No one wants to read a thesis on Facebook. Almost 10,000 tweets are sent every second so keep your social media posts, short, to the point and interesting.
If you have something in-depth to talk about then highlight a key stat or hook and link to it in the post.
And it’s important to have those links in your posts. Social media accounts for 31% of traffic driven to websites – if you don’t include links you could be missing out on relevant visitors and potential customers.
Posts that include images stand out and capture attentions. Hubspot says users are 44% more likely to engage with social posts that include videos or images.
Posts with hashtags and high quality images have more impact, regardless of platform! #OLA2016— Natalie Vaughn (@natalienvaughn) March 31, 2016
Your social channels are an extension of your brand. Make sure you have a consistent look and feel to your channels. That includes logos, colours and imagery. And if you have a dedicated social ambassador or community manager incorporate their image and name into your branding so that users can see there is a human face behind the company.
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS SHOULD YOU USE IN OIL AND GAS?
So you’ve decided you want to use social media tools and you have your goals in mind. Now you need to know which platform to use.
Do you go for Facebook’s 1.59 billion monthly active users? Or are Twitter’s insta-updates more enticing?
With all the platforms available it can be confusing. The first step is to determine what type of messaging and networking you want to engage in. Are you using social media to highlight positive stories? Inspiring imagery from your plants and facility? Revenue reports? Recruitment drives? Customer outreach?
Once you have figures out your core objective your ready to pick the right platform. Remember though this isn’t an either / or exercise.
The best social media strategy will encompass a mix of different message across various platforms. That doesn’t mean you should try and use all of them though. Determine which are right for you and stick to building them. There is no point in spreading yourself too thin.
With that in mind here are the key platforms you should consider:
LinkedIn is one of the most valuable tools in the oil and gas industry. Unlike the other platforms on this list it is focused towards professionals and with over 200 million members it is a great way to network with like minded professionals and to promote your updates to an engaged and capable audience.
You can use LinkedIn in a variety of ways: individual networking to reach out to influencers or to identify new talent, company pages – which allow you to have a highly searchable page where list all of your company produces and accomplishments and most useful of all, groups. Groups allow you to build your own free forum where you can invite relevant professionals to discuss and debate specific topics. By engaging in this kind of activity you can really prove your worth as a thought leader as opposed to an organisation just talking at its audience. Conversations on LinkedIn can be incredibly valuable and powerful. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional network so your tone of voice should be appropriate.
Twitter is the best way to keep the community in the loop with short updates and to break big news. With over 300 million users, Twitter is all about broadcasting to the widest possible audience. Use the hashtag feature to group your themes or to join in on other existing trends and add your input. It’s a good way to track industry conversations and stay abreast of emerging trends. It is not about intimate discussion so make sure your updates are interesting and broad. Using images is a great way to stand out from other tweets. Also remember the lifespan of a tweet is only a few seconds as user feeds are always being update with new posts so don’t be afraid to be prolific with your tweets!
Also remember Twitter is a popular way for users to talk to companies about customer service so use it to your advantage as a way to prove your worth when it comes to satisfying your customers.
The biggest of all the social platforms with over a billion monthly users, Facebook is a social beast that just keeps growing. Although it is primarily used for users to keep in touch with friends and family, business should also take advantage of the powerful tools available. Use the platform to set up a company page where you can converse with your fans and share good news and fun updates. Unlike LinkedIn, your updates on Facebook should be geared to a more casual and informal tone. Get that one right and you can see significant uptick in positive brand awareness. according to Foster Marketing, 80% of U.S. social network users prefer to connect to brands through Facebook – don’t miss out on those potential leads and conversations!
Video has emerged as Facebook’s new focus with video impressions up over 100% year-on-year. It has also become a publishing platform in its own right with its “Instant Articles” designed for near instantaneous loading on mobile devices. With so many of the worlds internet users accessing content via mobile it is imperative to be visible on a mobile friendly platform and few are as powerful as Facebook.
The king of the video services, YouTube is also worlds seconds biggest search engine so it’s key that you have a presence on YouTube if you want to help boost your overall market exposure. The best method is to release a steady steam of original short-form (2-5 minute) video content. This encourages users to subscribe to your channel and get notifications of your new content. A good idea is to create different playlists based on different themes so users can learn all there is to know about each topic in one sitting.
Video consumption is growing exponentially and is outpacing most other online content formats. This visual format is highly shareable and a quality video can capture the imagination in a way that text based content can not.
Bare in mind video production is one of the most costly and resource hungry content formats online so keep this in mind if you decide to start using video and when producing your content.
Google+ is Google’s attempt at a social network. While the jury is out as to whether it has been a success one thing that it does have in its favour is its strong ability to help you boost your search engine rankings. If you optimise your Google+ page and keep it regularly updated with new content and updates you will see your related websites benefit from a positive bump in Google rankings. You can also use hashtags to categorise content and even engage with other businesses.
Instagram is the Facebook owned photo-sharing service which is highly popular due to its ability to let users share photos and apply various filters to pictures. This platform is a great way to put a human face to your company by sharing new products, staff pictures and fun developments within your business. This means the platform is only of use if you have interesting photos to share regularly. It has 400m monthly active accounts and the majority of users (70%) are female between the ages of 18-35 so be sure its right for your company before you set up an account.
Another image and photo based service. It allows users to build virtual “boards” packed with images that are of interest. Again only try this platform if you have a lot of visually distinct and interesting images that you want to share. The majority of users on Pinterest are women (80%) between the ages of 25-45.
One last thing – practically all of the key platforms mentioned here offer the chance to run very targeted advertising. Unlike print or TV, advertising via social platforms allow you to pick specific demographics: interests, age ranges, geos, companies, job titles and more. With that level of detail you can really find and engage the exact people you are after. Costs can vary from platform to platform and also depending on what demographic you are after but the results are measured in real time so you can track your results right away.
SO ARE YOU SOCIAL?
I hope you have found this guide of use and that you can use some of these ideas and strategies in your own social media activities for oil and gas.
If you and your company have yet to embrace social media then now is the time to start. There is a world of new opportunities out there that you can discover and realise with social media: new relationships, new fans, new talent and new revenue.
All of this is possible through the power of social media!
- Oil & Gas Industry Begins To Reap The Benefits Of Social Media
- Social Media and The Oil & Gas Industry
Header image courtesy of Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons