Monday, May 17, 2010

BP Suffers Social Technology Backlash Over Gulf Disaster

No one likes the idea of ecological havoc bubbling up from 5000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. And no, I'm not talking about Facebook "liking".

As marketers, we know a few things. We know that green products and services are becoming increasingly relevant in consumer purchase behaviors. We know that consumers are placing a premium on these same types of products or services, and putting their money where their mouth is.

Then the British Petroleum owned Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up, killing 11 workers and sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil from an unsealed bore hole began pouring into the ocean. Since April 20th the Gulf of Mexico has suffered one of the worst man-made disasters of our time.

I'm not political on this issue. I'll leave it to the pundits to play the blame game. I am, however, conscious that it's bad. Really bad. And as marketers, advertisers, and public relation...ers we should be watching the social web to gauge how a tragedy of this magnitude affects consumer trends and appetites for green.

How will the disaster influence unmet consumer needs (especially in the Gulf states)?

Here's a few thought starters:

Beyond Punishment (new Facebook group calling for a consumer level boycott of BP - full disclosure - I support it)
Boycott BP Twitter
Google Blog search on BP (mostly negative and highly political opinions)
Greenpeace Gulf Oil Spill aggregation

Final thoughts after the jump.

I'll leave you with one final question that is of particular interest to me:

How should BP deal with the social firestorm brewing on the web?

Should BP actively seek and shut down Facebook groups, Twitter pages, blogs, and forums that infringe on their intellectual property or should they simply let it all go and chalk it up to internet karma?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.
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