How BP Used Social Media to Become an Agile Enterprise #smlondon

This is the tenth in a series of ten articles from our recent #smlondon LIVE! 2015 event. To read the rest of the series, click here.

Mark Salt’s presentation at #smlondon LIVE! begun with him setting the scene, clarifying what BP does beyond just the filling stations that we’re all familiar with. The global energy giant is involved with finding, developing & extracting, transporting & trading, manufacturing & marketing fuel.

It all started back in 1965 when The British Petroleum Company Limited found natural gas off the Humber coast. This find turned into something much bigger and the UK, Norway and the Netherlands have been pumping oil and gas from the North Sea ever since. Nowadays BP is a global organisation and one of the world’s seven “supermajor” oil and gas companies.

From awareness to proactive content:

BP’s social media journey started back in 2006 with mainly creating awareness, in Germany and the US. Then of course a very tragic incident took place, the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. This meant the company needed to be reactive to the news and assume full responsibility for the disaster and show what they are doing to make things right on social media.

From that point on, BP started creating proactive brand content and a global account was created to have a global corporate voice on social media.

The social media vision is that “BP is a social business” and the strategy is to “Use social media to drive advocacy and engagement at scale”. Nothing very different from other corporates in other words.

Hub and spokes:

The company is currently centralising its social media efforts and the global HQ in London run the overall press accounts, as well as global career. Apart from that, there are BP social media accounts in places like Indonesia, Alaska and Australia – all reporting back to the global hub which is Mark’s team.

When you want to drive advocacy and engagement at scale, you have to be clear on what the organisation expects of its people. Hence you will want to create both guidelines and roll out relevant training.

The BP social media policy:

  • Speak for yourself
  • Follow the law
  • Don’t pretend to be someone else
  • Be professional
  • Don’t overshare
  • Set it up right
  • Manage it right

“Speak for yourself” almost sounds a bit harsh, but the idea here is that you share your own opinions but clarify that these are not the employer’s opinion (I’m sure you’ve seen that stated in all too many Twitter bios). “Don’t pretend to be someone else” – not sure if BP have a Doppelgänger problem but that along with “follow the law” sound pretty obvious to me?


BP social media training:

The training that was rolled out to BP employees looks nice and visual, and green enough to be on brand. Mark explained that the content consists of quizzes, videos, examples (very good for do’s and don’ts) and facts.

Analysis and results

Mark explained that the team has three guiding principles around analysing data and results:

  1. Data is only a tool
  2. There is so much data
  3. Data needs an application

My analysis of these points is that data is pretty useless unless you know what to do with it. The key measurement objectives for BP include campaigns, individual posts and channel health checks.

Mark’s slides: