What is Marketing?

The fact is, whether you’re an oil and gas company, retail business, electrical contractor or any other business, marketing is always changing and always evolving. Starting with these four basics will help get you on the right track.

Copyright (c) <a href='http://www.123rf.com'>123RF Stock Photos</a>

You’ve heard about marketing, right? I mean, people have told you that you need to market your business, market your products, market your services. They’ve told you it’s crucial—without it you’re sunk.

And technically, they’re right.

But have you every stopped to wonder “What exactly is marketing?”

Okay, let’s start out with a definition of sorts. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Let me guess. You just said “blah, blah, blah…” didn’t you? Don’t worry—I did, too. So let’s talk realities.

Marketing is essentially this: everything that makes your target audience want to buy your product or service, and ultimately makes them feel satisfied about what they purchased. Oh—and makes you money along the way.

The next question then is, what makes good marketing, and where do you start when you’re looking to start—or build—your business?

1. Know your audience. If you don’t know what your potential customers want, there’s no way to give it to them. You need to know their problems before you can give them a solution. Is budget a concern? Are time constraints an issue? What do they like (or not like)? Find out what they need and why. Need an example? Check out this article about why you have to think differently when marketing to women, or this one about the unique aspects of marketing to the Amish.

2. Evaluate what you offer. You might think that what you bring to the table is the best thing since sliced bread, but there are a lot of other businesses out there who are thinking exactly the same thing. Part of good marketing is knowing what makes you different, and what makes you better. If you can’t see a difference between you and your competitor, then your customer won’t either.

3. Have a plan. Good marketing requires a good strategy. Where is the right place to sell your product or service? Who is the right person to talk to? What’s the right story to tell? What’s your budget? Who in your company is going to execute which component of your marketing plan? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself. (What shouldn’t your marketing plan be? This article tells you.)

4. Execute well. If you’re asking someone to buy what you’re selling, then you’d better look like you’re worth investing in. Start with basic tools: a decent website with good content and functionality, proper sales materials and a professional email address. And unless you’re in IT, a haircut.

The fact is, marketing is always changing and always evolving, but starting with these four basics will help get you on the right track.

Targeting consumers? Check out this great Fast Company article: Marketing From The Other End of the Funnel.

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Collateral, Energy Marketing, Marketing, Public Relations | Leave a comment

Going Tradigital

Taking a multi-facted, multi-channel approach to your marketing increases your likelihood of success.

Multi-faceted, integrated marketing consisting of traditional and digital media will likely be far more powerful and extend your reach when compared to executing via a single media alone.

Particularly in light of the recent USA Today furloughs, there are some who have loudly cried that print is dead.  Others have cried that with the advent of Pandora, iTunes and Spotify—not to mention Sirius—radio has bitten the proverbial dust.  And nobody, according to these same folks, ever watches TV.  It’s all, “they” say, about digital.

Hm.

Let’s talk some realities.  Yes, digital is a huge, and ever-growing, part of marketing.  I cannot fathom any company in any industry that should not have a functional, content-rich, well-developed website.  But I’m here to tell you that there are very few companies out there who couldn’t benefit from some form of so-called “traditional” marketing.

Enter “tradigital”.

As marketers, part of our job is not only to come up with creative ads that catch the attention of your target audience, but also to have a strategy behind them to make sure that every one is maximized.  And that means looking at all mediums available to determine which will work best and how they should work together.

That may mean running a series of newspaper ads that incorporate a QR code linking readers to a website.  On that website, there may be a video to watch (perhaps the same spot you’re running on TV at the moment), a game to play or a white paper to read.  You might also find a link to Facebook where, in turn, a special offer or promotion could be waiting to be found.  And maybe that special offer means that you deliver a piece of direct mail right to their door as well as an email to their inbox.  What’s on that mailer or in that email?  Another online link—and perhaps this one links your customer to a webinar or invites them to a locally based event.

You may think that it sounds like one big circle…and you’d be absolutely correct.  In today’s market there are so many options to choose from that using just one is rarely a good idea.

 Multi-faceted, integrated marketing consisting of traditional and digital media will likely be far more powerful and extend your reach when compared to executing via a single media alone.

Ask yourself: are you doing tradigital integration in your marketing efforts?  And more importantly, are you doing it right?

If the answer is no to either one of these questions, you need to rethink your strategy.  Because traditional media isn’t dead, digital media isn’t going away and failing to take advantage of both of them could risk the lifeblood of your business.

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Attention Energy Marketers: Google Will Find You (and not in a good way)

Google’s hint at an over-optimization penalty could swing the pendulum back to focus on great content.

 

Focus too much on gaming Google and you could get burned.

That’s what Google’s Matt Cutts appeared to hint recently when he said people who over-optimize their sites could be punished, sent to the principal’s office or have their Gmail privileges revoked.

OK, maybe not that extreme. But Cutts signaled during a panel discussion at SXSW that Google is preparing to release a bolder, smarter Googlebot with a third more cleaning power.

Even as it continues to dominate the search market, Google continues to try and improve its relevance.  In this post on Search Engine Land, Barry Schwartz offers this transcription of the comments from Cutts:

“What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

Feeling a little uncomfortable, energy marketers? After all, you’ve attended webinars and done hours of Internet research, so you think you’ve figured out what you think are tricks to improve your rank on Google.  You’ve bolded enough words to make your home page look like it has the measles, stuffed enough keywords on every post to choke your bandwidth and back-linked from every site imaginable.

And content? Oh yeah, that. Welcome to the casualty of SEO.  We’re so good at writing for the spiders that we’re practically spinning silk out of our backends.

Maybe (gasp) we should remember the humans.

As Lisa Barone said here, start wooing the user instead of the bot. Her SEO philosophy sums it up perfectly for me:

“SEO isn’t about taking a crap page and making it rank. It’s about making a killer page more findable.”

In short, focus on content first and then carefully create a good SEO strategy to help bring the humans to your site.

The bots will understand.

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What the Ask.com Brand Ambassador Can Teach You About Customer Service

As an energy marketer with limited resources and time, it’s tempting to lessen the priority placed on customer relations.  Eric McKirdy will tell you otherwise.

Once you’ve met the brand ambassador for Ask.com, you suddenly get a better idea of how to treat people as an energy marketer. You understand even more how to value customer relations, how to make them feel important and special.

Because, during these difficult times, refocusing your efforts to promote and protect your brand could help to extending your longevity as an energy marketer.

As a recently named brand ambassador for Ask.com, Eric McKirdy says companies can’t afford to let go of intensely personal customer service.

Correct me if I’m wrong. But as far as search engines go, I don’t see anything like that from the Big G.

Sure, Google is huge. It encompasses a Texas-sized portion of the Internet, giving you every opportunity to find what your friends had for breakfast in 1992.

But as Eric will tell you, bigger isn’t necessarily better.  Sure, much like other top-tier search engines, Ask.com uses algorithms and all the usual search mumbo jumbo to find your answers. And if that’s not enough, it relies on an army of qualified experts to help find the answer you need.

But Eric is intent on taking the customer service to even deeper, more personal level.

“Everyone who takes the time to write deserves to be made to feel like an insider by the time they’re done,” he says.

Take this excerpt from an impassioned comment by an Ask.com user, unhappy about not finding the traditional Jeeves icon, forever tied to the company formerly known as Ask Jeeves:

How dare you, how DARE you remove the Jeeves motif from the site! No words can express the acid and venom I feel for this decision. EVER HEAR THE PHRASE IF IT AINT BROKE, DON’T FIX IT?!?    The parties who changed this Jeeves motif out of the site, I feel bad for them. Your eternal souls are in dire jeopardy. I’ve never seen such a travesty in all history. The Geneva Convention is calling.    IMMEDIATELY bring lovely Jeeves back on the site. IMMEDIATELY.

And here is Eric’s response (which I found to be brilliant):

Dear Burt,

Our customer support team forwarded your message to me, and as we are all slightly concerned about your blood pressure, I thought I’d better interrupt my dinner and answer right away. I’ll come right to the point, Burt: Jeeves is alive! He’s alive, and he is just waiting for you to pay him a visit.

Yes, although he was removed from active duty many years ago, there are still a couple of ways you can find him. First, on our homepage (www.ask.com), you can click “Themes” in the upper right corner and select the Jeeves theme, which will put our favorite butler right back where you and I know he should be. Second, you can visit him in London without leaving your living room by going to http://uk.ask.com. Either way, Jeeves is, I’m sure, eager to see you again.

If I can be of any further assistance, I do hope you’ll let me know.

Best regards,

Eric

Ask.com Brand Ambassador

 

When you break apart Eric’s response, notice how it accomplishes some key objectives.

1.     “Thought I better interrupt my dinner and answer right away.” The customer immediately knows how important they are.

2.     It’s personal and funny.

3.     Most of all, his response emphasizes the unique selling positions of Ask.com

As an energy marketer with limited resources and time, it’s tempting to lessen the priority placed on customer relations. But as more than 100 million unique visitors using Ask.com every month will tell you, emphasizing customer service won’t necessarily deplete your resources and will help you thrive into the future.

And one more thing about Burt, the Ask.Com customer, incensed about the loss of his beloved Jeeves.

He just wrote back. He opened up about himself, much happier than before and closed with this statement.

“In all seriousness, I hope you and your site well, and will use it more

often. But if you bring Jeeves back to his rightful throne of glory, I

think you will be bringing more “luck” and fortune to your site :) Toodles!

Winning one customer at a time. If “Burt” means that much to a multi-gazillion dollar company, how much do your customers mean to you?

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What Environmentalists Won’t Tell You About The Yellowstone Oil Spill

Before you read another story about how Exxon failed us in July of 2011, know that the majority of the people who live in Billings don’t share the sentiment of the few who are so frequently quoted.

Photo: Sean Munson via Flickr

Most people who read this blog know that I usually talk about marketing and the ways that companies in the energy development industry can improve theirs.  But there’s been one post I’ve been longing to write for quite some time, and I decided that there’s no better time like the present.

In July of 2011, I was stunned and dismayed just when I heard that there had been an oil spill in the Yellowstone River.   For those who haven’t been to this area, the Yellowstone River runs through the heart of the county which bears the same name. I have been fishing, hiking and biking along its banks for about as long as I can remember.

From the media reports and online chatter, it certainly sounded as though a cross between the Exxon Valdez spill and the Gulf spill had occurred right in my backyard.  People bemoaned that cities like Bozeman (which is over 100 miles west of Billings; the river flows east) would be affected, and the animals in Yellowstone National Park (the closest gate to us is well over 100 miles away, and couldn’t be downstream if it tried) would be threatened.

Here’s the reality.   The moment that the oil spill occurred, ExxonMobil began remediation efforts. Booms were launched to capture as much of the oil as possible, hundreds of people were brought in as part of the cleanup efforts and local environmental labs were running samples around the clock.

A few vocal locals, including those linked to the Sierra Club and similar organizations, spread the word that the area was thoroughly befouled and questioned whether it was global warming that led to the flooding that in turn led to the break in the pipeline.  Good-hearted bird rescue folks descended (they ended up helping about 130 birds, toads, snakes and birds.)   Kayakers came to ride the river and point out possible contamination sites (none of which appear to actually be contaminated.)  But most people in the community simply and quietly looked for ways to help.    Thanks to early action and late summer runoffs, it didn’t take long before things were back to normal.

Except, of course, for the fact that every few weeks people are still tweeting about the “epic failure” of Exxon as it applies to the Silvertip Pipeline.

Here’s what I can tell you as someone who lives and works surrounded by oil wells, refineries and mines: they employ thousands, pay millions in taxes, fund school programs and support local charities.   They are good neighbors who care about our communities.

Did the pipeline break?  Yes.  Would we want it to happen again?  Of course not.  Do I believe Exxon acted in good faith to address the problem?  Not only yes, but an emphatic “hell yes.”

There may be some who read this who will believe that I am some sort of shill for big oil.  I’m not.  In fact, I’m described by a lot of folks as a tree-hugging, outdoor-loving, Birkenstock-wearing, yoga-practicing hippie.  I grow my own vegetables, shop at a co-op, want to meet the chickens that lay the eggs I feed my family and personally lean towards vegetarianism.    But I understand that energy development here in Montana—and across our nation—provides jobs, leads to a plethora of new inventions and promotes economic development and independence.

So before you read another story about how Exxon failed us in July of 2011, know that the majority of the people who live in Billings don’t share the sentiment of the few who are so frequently quoted.   Know instead that we care for our land, air and water and that we are also intelligent enough to understand that change takes time, extremism doesn’t solve problems and that energy exploration and development companies are an important and appreciated part of our community.

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Bringing “Linsanity” to Your Energy Company

 Does Jeremy Lin have what it takes to make NBA history?  It’s too early to tell.  But if you take a lead from him in the way you market your energy related company, you could take your team all the way.

They call it Linsanity—the phenomenon that reinvigorated interest in both the N.Y. Knicks and the NBA in February of this year (not to mention reinvigorating the Knicks’ win record.)   Jeremy Lin, the 6’3” point guard came off the bench on February 4, scored 25 points and took everyone by surprise.

Over the next weeks, Lin continued racking up points, wins and notice.  Millions of dollars in offers streamed in, broadcast viewership of Knicks games soared and celebrities streamed to see him play.  And it wasn’t just an American craze, either—Asia went wild for the son of Taiwanese parents.

Everyone called it an overnight success.  Except, of course, Lin himself.

His first choices for playing college ball turned him down.  He ended up playing for Harvard, graduating with a degree in economics, but with no pro offers.  Eventually he did sign with Golden State Warriors in 2010, then played briefly in preseason for the Rockets in 2011 and ended up with the Knicks late that same year.  And then … he waited.

So what does energy development—and more specifically marketing in the energy industry—have in common with Jeremy Lin?  More than you might think.

1.            Prepare yourself. Lin didn’t walk onto the court and start outscoring the biggest names in the game without ever practicing driving the lane or his jump shot.  Good marketing require a lot of research into target markets, taking the time to position your company properly and evaluating the tools that will work best for you.

2.            If at first … You know the rest of the saying—try, try again.  When his dream schools said no, that didn’t stop Lin from playing college ball.  He found a program that worked for him.  When he was waived by the Warriors, he didn’t retire—he kept looking.  Marketing is the same way.  If one medium or message doesn’t work for you the way you hope, there are plenty of others (and plenty of multi-channel combinations) to try.  It’s a matter of re-evaluation and refinement.

3.            Be ready for the next step.  Within hours of his performance against the Nets, Lin began receiving endorsement offers from some of the biggest names in athletics.  But the fact is, those offers will only last as long as the Linsanity.  Having a plan for action in your marketing to take advantage of the right opportunities when they come is key to long-term success.

4.            Know your brand and adhere to it.  A Christian, Lin has been called the Tebow of b-ball for, among other things, wearing a bracelet that reads “In Jesus Name I Play.” Although more reserved in his expression than the Bronco quarterback, his view, image and brand are clear. As a company, you need to have just as clear of a clear view of your brand that will serve as a guide to the business and marketing decisions you make.  If the opportunities presented to you don’t work with your brand, it’s easy to wave them off.   If they fit you like a glove, you’ll immediately know that you should take advantage of them.

Does Jeremy Lin have what it takes to make NBA history?  It’s too early to tell.  But if you take a lead from him in the way you market your energy related company, you could take your team all the way.

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6 Simple Email Rules for Marketing Your Energy Company

The way you utilize email for your energy business can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal—or cost you more than just a sale.

If you were to identify one of the biggest revolutions in the way we communicate, it would have to be this: email. Long before people were surfing the Net or texting, email was being used within organizations to share information, and it’s still being used today. There are few people over the age of 12 who don’t have some form of email account, and most people have more than one for business or personal use. (One guy in our office has a plethora of accounts addressed to “Bob”. No Bob, Robert or otherwise actually works here.)

The way you utilize email for your energy business can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. (And can be a thorn in your side if it’s not done right.)

Here are a few rules to remember:

  • Have an email address that is professional. “ILoveHugs” or “KeggerDave” isn’t going to capture the attention (at least in a positive way) of most of the clients you’re hoping to connect with. Use an email address that speaks for and about you and your business.
  • Start your email off right. Include a greeting to the person to whom you are sending the message. If you know them well, it can be “Hi Jim”; if you don’t, a more formal “Hello Jim” is likely more appropriate.
  • Write, don’t text. Texting is a no-no in professional business and marketing communications. When you are writing to a client (or a potential one) you are marketing yourself to them, so let them know that you can spell “you are” instead of the including “U R” in your message.
  • Use a professional signature line. You should always have an email signature line at the end of your correspondence so that people know who you are, what you do and how to reach you. Kat Neville’s article in SMASHING Magazine has a few good hints on what to include (and what not to.)
  • Read before you send. Whether you’re shooting off a quick message before you run out the door or have just created the next great American novel in digital form (another no-no) you need to proof it. Read it out loud, as you’re not only likely to catch typos, but also pick up on any duplicate statements, negative tones, or other messaging you might not want to convey.
  • Verify to whom you’re sending your email. Don’t send it to 50 people if 3 will do because, and this is just being honest, it looks like a major CYA when you do. And if you’re responding to an email, make sure you look at exactly who it’s addressed to. You may think that your hastily typed response calling your customer a nincompoop (or worse) is only going to a colleague when, in fact, it’s destined to land in that very customer’s inbox … and that can cost you more than a sale.

Have any questions? Feel free to email me.

If you just want a laugh, check out these stories of disastrous email mistakes.

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Energy Marketers: Get Ready for Your YouTube Close Up

Following these 4 simple steps to add YouTube videos to your marketing efforts can make a big difference in your bottom line.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FzCQES5c6I&w=560&h=315]

Do you ever think that what you’re doing is boring?  That day after day you’re doing the same thing, over and over?  Or that the job you thought might be so interesting when you were in school isn’t that much different than anyone else’s?

Well, with all due respect, you’re wrong.  At least, from another person’s perspective.  What you do, how you do it, what you think about it, what you’ve learned from it—these are all things that other people wonder about.  Whether your company drills for oil, welds pipe, mines coal, builds power plants or anything else, there are a lot of folks (and potential customers) out there who want to know more about it.

That’s where video can play a huge part in your marketing efforts.  Through them, you can tell your story, share your insights and promote what sets you apart from other companies within the energy development industry and its many related fields.

According to YouTube marketing expert Greg Jarboe, YouTube.com gets 800 million unique visitors a month worldwide.   Many of those viewers are watching content produced by amateurs on topics ranging from gaming hints and how to use various online tools to tax information, investing in the stock market or why you should attend specific conferences or tradeshows.

From a marketing perspective, these videos don’t just entertain or share information; they provide insight into the person featured and underscore why someone might want to do business with them.   So what steps do you need to take to use YouTube to market your energy-related company?

  1. Start with what you’ve got.  You don’t need a film crew or a thousand dollar camera.  If you have an iPhone and a laptop, you have the tools you need to begin.  Basic video editing software like iMovie can help you create, edit and title your videos.
  2. Decide what you want to say.  To have content watched and shared, it needs to inform, educate or entertain.  Want to use your video as an HR tool?  Tell (and show) why they’d want to work for you.  Offering a new service?  Talk about it—and make sure to underscore WHY it makes a difference to your target customers.
  3. Optimize your video when you post it.  YouTube has free tools you can use to search for keywords that will help your video be found.  Putting those keywords in your title, description and tags will boost optimization.   Here’s a video of Jarboe talking about how to do just that.
  4. Share it.  Get it out through your website, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts and pretty much any other way you can think of.  The more eyes you get on it, the more changes you have to share your message.

Following these 4 simple steps to add YouTube videos to your marketing efforts can make a big difference in your bottom line.  So…are you ready for your close up?

Check out “4 Tips to Improve Your Business Videos” from the team at Billings, Montana-based Align Video.

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Energy Development Companies Can Get Noticed On Any Size Marketing Budget

Photo from www.oharagov.com

The state of Montana is known for a lot of things, including its world-class fly fishing, exceptional beef and grain production and energy development.   But in a state whose population just topped one million, you wouldn’t think that it would be a hot bed of politics.

Democrat Brian Schweitzer has been Montana’s governor for almost 8 years.  Overall, I’d say that Montanans have liked him (although secretly I believe that we’re all tired of the bolo ties and blue shirts) but in a state in which most elected officials are term limited, his administration will soon come to an end.  And boy, there are a lot of people who want to replace him—there have been 15 republicans, democrats, independents and libertarians who have entered the fray.

Some have been able to raise some pretty substantial cash to back their run.  I am far from making a decision as to who I will vote for, but there is one candidate who has captured my attention and demonstrated how some planning, perseverance  and creativity can, at the very least, get you noticed in a crowded field.

I saw my first Jim O’Hara sign on a drive from Billings to Bozeman last year.  It was a hand-painted plywood cut out of a courthouse with a simple message beneath it.  As my travels expanded across the state, so did my sightings of these unique billboards.  Although perched on poles in fields, and lacking the traditional “slick” look of campaign boards, there was something about these homemade signs that intrigued me.

I started researching who Jim O’Hara was and learned that this Chouteau County commissioner had been planning a run for the governorship since the mid-2000s.  I also learned that it was he who had painted, cut and constructed each of these signs—a total of 70 of them, one for each of the state’s 56 counties and some extras for those with the highest populations.

Energy marketers can learn some valuable lessons from O’Hara, whose fundraising has not been as great as other candidates, but who has garnered national attention for his efforts:

  1. Think ahead.  Although the energy development industry is fast-moving, you need to plan your efforts today, tomorrow and in the future.
  2. Work with what you have.  You may not have the deepest pockets in the Bakken, but you can make the most of your marketing budget by using those things that are available to you.  The side of your vehicle,  our business cards and your website are just a few of the things you can look at maximizing to promote your brand message.
  3. Be authentic, and you’ll be unique. O’Hara happened to love the architecture of courthouses, particularly the historic ones across Montana . He used that appreciation as the basis of his brand in his campaign.  Allowing your brand—and your corresponding marketing efforts—to authentically reflect who you are will set you apart from your competition.

As for O’Hara, I don’t know if he’ll be our next governor or not.  But I do know that he’s caught my attention and that of voters across the Treasure State.

UPDATE:  See the CBS News story about Jim O’Hara here.

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3 Steps to Take to Take If Your Employees Bash You Online

Employees are posting every day in virtually every industry—including energy development—lashing out at customers, other employees and maybe even you.

Copyright (c) <a href='http://www.123rf.com'>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Think no one pays attention to your posts and tweets?  Think again.

Irishman Leigh Van Bryan, a 26-year-old bar manager, was looking forward to a holiday in the States.  He posted to his Twitter followers “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

In a BBC story, it was also noted that “In another tweet, Mr. Bryan made reference to comedy show Family Guy saying that he would be in LA in three weeks, annoying people ‘and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up’.”

Friends may have taken it lightly.  Homeland Security didn’t.  In fact, when he landed at LAX they denied him entry into the country.

Whether you believe that Homeland Security was right or wrong in sending Mr. Bryan packing, I think we can all agree that it underscores the need to use caution in what you—or your employees—are posting on social networking sites.    And before you think that it may not be an issue in the energy development industry or that it doesn’t affect your marketing efforts, I’d suggest you consider the following:

•            An employee of supermarket chain Price Chopper saw a customer’s tweet which read “Every time I got into a @PriceChopperNY I realize why they are not @Wegmans.  Tonight—bare produce areas.”  The Price Chopper employee contacted the customer’s employer and requested that he be disciplined.  The result?  A blog detailing the incident went viral, causing a lot of bad press directed at Price Chopper.

•            In March of 2011, @ChryslerAutos posted a tweet which read “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*****g drive.”  Chrysler caught it within a few hours, and it was quickly learned that the tweet came from the car company’s social media agency.  The employee, who said he meant to post it on his own account, was fired … as was the agency.   A week later, Aflac came under scrutiny due to its “voice” Gilbert Gottfried.

•            In 2009, Domino’s faced a huge backlash when two employees not only filmed a prank (think snot on sandwiches) but posted it on Youtube, generating over a million views in faster than you can say “Would you like to super size that?”

People didn’t ignore these tweets—and they don’t ignore the host of others that are hitting the digisphere every day.  The fact is, employees are posting every day in virtually every industry—including energy development.  They are lashing out at customers, other employees and maybe even you.   So should do you do?

1.            First, be prepared.  Make sure that someone is monitoring your brand online to maximize the chance that you’ll find what’s being said.

2.            Second, remember that the best offense is a good defense.  Educate your staff about your expectations of social media usage, discuss the use of social media tools with them, talk about your company goals and take steps to encourage them to become advocates of your brand (including doing your best NOT to give them a reason to post something negative.)

3.            Third, if something does happen, address it professionally and quickly.  Be upfront and honest with the audience; let them know what happened and what you’re going to do about it.

Oh–and most importantly?  Don’t tweet that you’re off on holiday to destroy the U.S.  Homeland Security doesn’t have a sense of humor.

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