I was looking through Twitter posts this morning, as I am wont to do, and I saw a post from an account labeled BPGlobal. The post was something along the lines of, “Just spilled salad dressing in my lap. Not sure how to clean it up.”
I was pretty much stopped in my tracks. And I guess that’s the point.
Later today, as serendipity would have it, I saw a post by Outspoken Media’s Lisa Barone regarding that exact account (though sadly not that exact post. You can’t win ’em all).
In fact, the BPGlobal account is a satire of a thing. All of the posts are sardonic.
A lot of weird things can happen in the world of Social Media. I remember reading about a woman who posted as an Exxon customer service representative for about a year till someone realized she had no real affiliation with the company. That was a beneficial account. In the case of BP, this is an evil twin on the loose.
The question Barone asks is the question I would ask too. Why isn’t BP doing anything about this, or why didn’t they act on it sooner? And that raises a debate. What do you do when a phantom account springs up on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere else?
Barone’s suggestion to BP is to link up to the phantom account, which actually is run by people selling t-shirts to raise money for the clean-up. That would be a great way to help clean up the company’s image in addition to creating plain ole good PR.
Be careful not to slap fans in the face
Sometimes, the risk in Social Media is the exact opposite of what BP is experiencing now, and more along the lines of what Exxon experienced with their excellent “customer service representative.” Sometimes, especially on Facebook, where I suppose fan pages can still be created at least as of now, people create pages to support a specific brand or company. One of the most famous examples of this is the page that 2 fans created for Coke. Now, some companies approach these fan pages and say, “Hey, I need you guys to shut this down. We’re going to create our own corporate page now.” And you can’t really argue with that. You want to be able to tie in your page to what’s going on across your brand and marketing campaign. However, if you ask 2 “fans” to cease and desist, you are not only running the risk of upsetting them, but you could also upset all of the people they had already driven to the fan page.
In the case of Coke, the company did an excellent job of incorporating what the 2 fans had done while making it clear that theirs was not an “official” page. This likely increased Coke’s “street cred” a great deal, and it kept an active fan page active.
Whether they’re out there to build you up or tear you down, there may be twin Social Media accounts out there. Part of the research that needs to happen when preparing to launch a Social Media campaign is determining on a corporate scale how to deal with either scenario. It’s a new kind of marketing and brand diplomacy. Can you make it work for you? Or will that bearded evil twin undo all of the good that you have done?