Before we jump into the reasons for social media and touch on the application of social media for the oil and gas related businesses, let’s look out over the horizon of social media with a little bit broader view. Let’s start with Instagram. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media networks, is known for a lot of things – like being a place for showcasing beautiful photography, being the second most used social media platform in the United States (behind Facebook), and being a good place to build a brand and a reputation.
On Instagram, some high achievers are just everyday folks who have been successful in earning the title of “influencers,” even achieving virtual celebrity by using the digital photography platform to brand themselves and garner an audience.
Instagram offers such good opportunities for this type of brand development that lots of people seek the fame and fortune Instagram can deliver. Some “Insta” users will go so far as to do photo shoots in exotic locations in dangerous situations in order to gain notoriety.
Eyes on the Spies
Seeking a different kind of brand attention, in April , the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States executed their first Instagram post with a cleverly staged photo that was captioned, “I spy with my little eye…“.
Why would the CIA be on Instagram? The primary objective for this particular social media mission was to collect, evaluate, and disseminate information, all in an effort aimed at recruiting talented Americans to serve. The CIA joined Instagram as a place to scope out potential new recruits.
Basic Social Media Tactics
In this article, we will hit the highlights of some basic tactics. We invite you to apply these tactics to your own social media practices. In addition to a few hows, we want you to understand the reason why your energy sector company should use social media. So, if you are standing at the crossroads of making a decision on whether or not to use social media, we hope this will tilt you in favor of a yes.
The Common Good
- Users – Each network has millions of daily users. Therefore, social media is a great place to find a new audience.
- Like-minded Interests – Users tend to associate with like-minded people around a particular interest or group. People with an interest in the oil & gas sector will connect on social media.
- Conversations – People participate in conversations around the things they find important and enjoyable. Your business has the opportunity to join in and be a part of their conversations.
The Common Not-So-Good
It is easy to see how this happens on many oil and gas company Facebook pages. The common not-so-good scenario plays out like this.
- Employee Assignment – An employee is tasked with building and maintaining a social media account for the company.
- Passive Posts
- He posts repeatedly about the company’s services.
- He posts “happy holiday” as the occasions arise.
- Few Followers – He gets very few followers (other than his family members).
- Effort Abandoned – The social media is deemed unfruitful and abandoned.
How to Turn Your Social Media Around
Let’s turn it around. Now that we see what doesn’t work for oil-related social media, let’s focus on what does work. We’ll begin with the basic terminology – “social media.” The wise marketer understands that the business must perform in both capacities. The business must be “social” and they must serve as their own “media.” Those two logical but often overlooked concepts contain the secret of being successful as a business on social media.
The Social Aspect
Be mindful that people participate on social media for two main reasons: to keep up those they care about and to stay in the loop of what’s going on. Social media is predominately a conversational experience. By definition, a conversation is an exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas. It’s a discussion. It includes interaction. So, you can see how broadcasting a one-way message of the virtues and benefits of your company does not elicit a response nor encourage a dialogue. Be social with your business page.
The Media Aspect
The media aspect of social media is focused on the publication of news, helpful information, stories, and opinions that your community will be interested in. Think of yourself as being media, not just being a business with something to sell. An entity that is trying to “be” the media, or at least to be somewhat like media, is one that freely educates and invites discussion amongst the followers on its page and beyond. This aspect of social media marketing is driven by content marketing. Development of meaningful, useful, and shareable content is much more attractive to your audience than a simple post saying – “Hey, it’s Wednesday. We made it to ‘Hump Day!'” Too many of these quick and easy posts that have no real substance will lead you to the same pit of wasted social media presence as will the path of constant self-promotion.
1 - Branding
Today, branding is centered around building trust. Branding your company with personalized experiences builds trust with those who follow your page. There is an expectation that companies will be transparent and accurate. Those who are successful will gain positive recognition and appreciation.
At least 58 percent of U.S. consumers use social media to follow brands. (MarketingSherpa)
Bonus – Employee Participation – It’s a good practice to encourage your employees to be involved with your social media. Set out some guidelines regarding what is appropriate for them to communicate as representatives of the company. Then, enlist your team to comment, share, and engage with your social content. Set an expectation for your social media practice that presents the company with its “best foot forward.” The return on investment (ROI) for positive branding is not exactly measurable by analytics, but it is observable through the loyalty that your following shows.
2 - Following
In keeping the focus on positive branding for your company, resist the impulse to amass a large, disconnected audience, and set out instead to develop an active, dedicated community. Interact with followers who engage, comment, and share your content. Create a company hashtag around your brand that brings you all together with a common interest.
3 - SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
One of the key benefits of an active social media business page is the positive impact it can have on your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). Of the many factors that are calculated to give a business an SEO score, one of the most important is your social media connections. (Yes, Google and other search engines examine and measure your “social” standing.) Search engines monitor whether or not people comment on and share your posts (the social part). Likewise, they monitor how much activity you generate of people clicking links that take them from your social media account to your website to read your content (the media part).
4 - Reviews
Once you have built a loyal following, there is another benefit you can derive. Reviews. Online reviews, like the ones on Facebook, have supplanted word-of-mouth referrals. Potential customers and potential hires will trust the comments that others share about your company more than what you say about yourself. Their comments are viewed as objective. Such reviews by your loyal followers elevate your company’s branding and expand your potential reach.
5 - Recruiting
After you have done some work to brand your oil and gas related company on social media, and you have worked to build a loyal, active following, you will find social media a good recruiting environment.
As you publish words and pictures on your social media site, don’t neglect to incorporate stories and testimonials from current employees that relate what is it really like to work at your company day-to-day. These posts exhibit your company’s values. And, if you are hiring, the reviews that you’ve racked up will also work in your favor towards attracting quality employees.
Potential employees will learn about your company culture when they peruse your social accounts. There’s no better way to get on their radar than to get your following to network with you on social media. Social media gives you the opportunity to reach the person who is looking for the job. Many times it is enough simply to get on the radar of that job hunter’s friends or family members, most of who will likely know that that person is job hunting. They’ll share your content with that prospect and the connection is made.
We created and posted a “job opportunities” message for one of our oil and gas clients on Facebook a month ago, and the response was huge. The account itself had fewer than a thousand followers, but the post received 27 comments, 32 shares, and 2,341 engagements, all culminating in a reach of 8,807 people – more than eight times the following of the account. Social works!
Some Stats on Recruiting with Social Media
- 79 percent of job applicants use social media in their job search. (Glassdoor)
- Job seekers rank social media and professional networks as the most useful job search resource, as compared to job boards, job ads, recruiting agencies, and recruiting events. (CareerArc)
- A study from the Aberdeen Group revealed that millennials are changing social recruitment practices: 73 percent of millennials (18-34 age group) found their last position through a social media platform. (CareerProfiles)
- 70 percent of hiring managers say they’ve successfully hired with social media. (Betterteam)
If You Don't Do Anything Else
Social Media can and should be an effective marketing tool. It builds your company’s brand recognition, gains you a loyal following, lifts your SEO page rank, elicits good company reviews, and provides healthy opportunities for hiring your next employees. If you don’t do anything else, make a plan and get active on one social media network this quarter. You’ll be glad you did.