THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA & IT’S IMPORTANCE IN THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY
Social media is still considered a relatively new tool in marketing within the oil, gas and energy sector.
What was previously thought to be a conduit for entertainment and casual communication, can be a powerful marketing strategy for oil and gas companies, when used in the proper way. An article published with FTI Consulting, Inc., explores this very topic and how the oil and gas sector cannot afford to miss out on the benefits that social media can offer when promoting products, creating awareness for a project or simply connecting customers with the company’s progress and innovation. There are many ways how oil and gas companies should utilize social media.
This article will explore how and why social media activities benefit the oil, gas and energy sector, as well as why the social media medium is a necessity for your company’s future.
Blackmon, et al., found that everything from discussions of hydraulic fracking to the unveiling of a new product or technology, with social media use, increased a company’s return on investment. Social media can be used to drum up support for a project or create awareness of your product line.
WHICH PLATFORMS ARE RELEVANT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS FOR OIL AND GAS MANUFACTURERS?
First, if you are new to the world of social media, we must define the parameters of what platforms are used when referring to “social media.” They are social media, mainly Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Furthermore, each channel can have a series impact on business marketing and operations in the energy sectors.
So how do these platforms aid in growing your company’s bottom line?
FACEBOOK — A common tool for communication. Businesses can create a page that includes advertising, “shop now” product buttons, creations of events with invitations that can be sent to your entire network with the push of a button, video uploads, photographs and written updates. All of this information can be easily shared to a search parameter or demographic of your choice.
The useful thing about Facebook is that a company can easily “boost” certain posts, videos, photographs or events for a relatively cheap advertising budget. You will need to set your audience or demographic. Once completed, this becomes an automated way to keep your contacts in the loop. By keeping track of organic traffic and page clicks, anyone in your company can follow traffic and analyze future strategies.
YOUTUBE makes the uploading of video content easy and accessible to millions around the globe. YouTube should be considered if you want to launch an educational initiative regarding a certain product or feature manufactured by your company. Within minutes, you can have a global market at your fingertips.
INSTAGRAM is a specialized platform that deals with photographs and hashtags. You can bring some creativity to your business using unique photography and specialized hashtags that feature your product.
Like Instagram, TWITTER can be very useful when utilized properly. Twitter only allows the posting of limited words. Again, cleverly worded tweets directed to your target audience can entice and bring business to your company.
LINKEDIN is considered more of a professional environment; however, by being able to share articles and search others in your industry, connections can be made that will benefit your company.
PINTEREST, while not a traditional media platform for the oil and gas industry, was found in a 2014 study to be the second largest social media source in dealing with website traffic referrals in that sector.
WHICH YIELDS THE BEST RESULTS?
This is a complicated question that cannot simply be answered in one succinct answer. Different studies performed around the world have shown different results. In dealing solely with the energy sector, studies done in Canada and the United States found better traffic through Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, while studies conducted in the UAE favored apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.
Short answer: know what your audience uses. Be aware of trends, as popular platforms change over time. While most studies found that younger adults ages 18-25 are most likely to engage in social media, it is becoming a more widely used platform around the world.
Know which platform will market your product or technology best. Be aware of what works best for your product. Will you need time to explain or educate your audience? YouTube may be a better fit. Do you want to combine articles with event invitations and regular posts? Facebook might work better for your company. Keep audiences interested with cleaver marketing strategies via Twitter and Instagram. Going to a tradeshow? Maybe connecting with professionals in your field will benefit you the most via LinkedIn. The real answer lies in the fact that you will most likely want to use several different platforms for maximum exposure.
OTC Houston suggests discovering what is most compelling to your target audience. With this knowledge, you can thoughtfully direct your online presence with a particular group in mind.
HOW DOES SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AFFECT THE OIL & GAS SECTOR?
More and more studies are being conducted to analyze the wealth of information available to us. Companies need to know what works and what will work fast. While many industries have embraced social media, the oil and gas businesses have been a little slower to pick it up.
A 2014 study projected that the U.S. oil and gas industry would increase 27% by 2020, thus, creating a more competitive environment for the industry. Social media was not only expected to impact marketing for product and technology, but also to be utilized as an aid when recruiting along sites like LinkedIn to bring talented personnel into companies.
OTC noted drastic increases in online mentions following trade shows in 2018. Similar results are expected to increase drastically, as mentions on Facebook and Twitter proved to be a bolster to the industry. OTC suggests there is more to be understood from your social media presence; merely selling and promoting products is simply one tool. More can be accomplished, including problem-solving through crowdsourcing, connection with those that can benefit your industry and access to a wealth of knowledge through various online communities that specialize in your field.
Tradeshows are great places to try out new marketing platforms. OTC Houston rated hashtags from various entities and found that innovative and unique hashtags used during tradeshow events can help further brand recognition and awareness. With some strategy and creative brainstorming, you can aid in your brand becoming known worldwide.
Rigzone found that they could reach over 31,000 people on Twitter by promotion of something they coined the “Wall of Opportunity”, which was a recruiting platform meant to attract others to their brand. Not only did Rigzone engage in social media in this way, they made a landing page specifically for sharing their recruitment opportunities. They also utilized video content to address pertinent topics, such as what not to ask a recruiter at a trade show, etc.
This innovative approach to marketing attracted many individuals in both the physical and digital world. Clear vision and an exceptional strategy can go a long way to bolster your line media presence.
Creating brand awareness, selling products, educating others and posting jobs on social media can be the corner stone in reinventing your company’s strategy. Dale Lunan points out in his article regarding social media for the oil and gas industry, that there is yet another platform that social media offers, which has emerged over the years.
Groups like Greenpeace and Stand.earth have used social media to drum up support for its anti-oil agenda. More recently, the Keystone XL in Canada , these companies took to social media to protest oil and gas field developments.
Lego was lobbied to cut ties with Shell over its plans to drill in the Arctic. 350.org and Break Free from Fossil Fuels used their online audience to successfully protest global oil exploration. In this event, over 30,000 people engaged in this social media movement.
The point Lunan has unveiled is the impact of a well-planned and executed social media following. These examples demonstrate the far-reaching effects of social media on the possibilities of what can be accomplished through this world-wide platform. Lunan suggests that the oil and gas industry learns from these campaigns by countering with the same gusto. Policy Horizons Canada suggests that the oil and gas companies need to counter this anti-oil onslaught with the use of social media to address customer concerns and meet their consumer base needs.
The director of Mount Royal University’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Connie Van der Byl suggests using social media as a way to filter, collect and analyze what works for your company and determine how to best reach your audience. She suggests that data obtained from online resources should be implemented in your marketing strategies, which has been a disadvantage for those companies not utilizing social media data.
Correct social media use across the board has been shown to have lasting impacts on the oil and gas sector. While oil, gas and energy companies were considered a slower adapter to many forms of social media, they have begun to make waves in this arena.
Social media can drastically change your reach at tradeshows, recruitment outreaches, new product unveiling, education, brand recognition and company initiatives. When executed properly and creatively, you can have access to a world-wide market of individuals who would otherwise never engage in your services or mission.
Demographics vary on what will work best for your company. It is best to know your target audience and be informed as to what is important to them. Different regions of the world will utilize different platforms. Your approach for reaching those in the UAE will be different when approaching individuals or companies in Canada.
As with any marketing method, you will want to use the research available to you. Facebook offers analytics on business pages that will help you to hone in on your target audience. Landing pages can be created to measure traffic during tradeshows and the use of hashtags will let you see who is talking about your company.
The world of digital media is ever growing. Specific statistics are still being analyzed as to the effectiveness of different media platforms in the oil and gas sector. As of 2016, data was still so new in this arena that there was some difficulty understanding why social media is paramount to the success of oil and gas companies. In just a few short years, we now understand that it is indeed important for this industry. Undoubtedly, we will have even more proof as time goes on.
Be creative, be ready to innovate, know your numbers and have fun. Social media marketing is meant to be an exciting, engaging and effective way to reach your highest potential.