Thursday, July 08, 2010

Introducing a company that takes on social media marketing best practices and "insidious competition" -- a bit like the online reputation issue, maybe

I got an email from a publicist for competitive strategy consultant Richard Telofski about running a piece “The Silent Killers in Social Media Never Die”.

I found Mr. Telofski on Facebook in connection with a page “Social Media Marketing Best Practices” with this link. Of course, I encourage Facebook users to log on and visit this page.

I also found that he has a company Kahuna Content. His services page gives a good view of what he does (link) with such offerings as “irregular competitor whiteboard service” and “competitive chatter analysis service” which is trademarked.

The piece enclosed in the email discusses particularly an expectation that the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill will lead to much longer lasting impact on BP with investors and the public than did the Exxon Valdez oil spill, because social media will keep the heat on BP. He also adds peer-to-peer communications as another facility that can prolong the reputational difficulties of any company or even individual. This sounds to me like an extension of the “online reputation defense” issue already explored (and a source of business for entrepreneurs like Michael Fertik).

I’m going to publish his piece as a “comment” below. Here is the one link he gives, to Greenpeace’s pace on the Redesign of BP’s logo, here.

Telofski also mentions his book “Insidious Competition: The Battle for Meaning and the Corporate Image”, link here.  It’s from iUniverse (a cooperative publisher) and it is a little pricey. I’ll take another look at it soon, as I have a Book Reviews blog.

The publicist is Lynn N. Coppotelli  of.SMITH PUBLICITY.

Update: (later July 8)

Some visitors are having trouble seeing the third comment. It links to a paper on Palo Alto Networks, "Enterprise 2.0 Applications: Block or Not?" link here.

3 comments:

Bill Boushka said...

I was asked by Smith Communications to post this piece by Telofski, discussed in this blog post.

The Silent Killers in Social Media Never Die
by Richard Telofski
The current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is, of course, a first degree public relations nightmare for beleaguered British multinational BP. Many pundits and financial analysts have debated whether or not the company will be able to survive this environmental disaster. Whether BP can and does survive this ordeal financially remains to be seen. Certainly their financial survival will depend on how many claims are filed, the aggregate value of those claims, the legitimacy of the claims, and how long the claim filing goes on. All of which remains uncertain.

But what seems to me to be more certain is that BP will have an extremely difficult time surviving the corporate image nightmare. That is a problem that will not go away shortly after the last claim is paid and is one that likely will continue in perpetuity. Why do I think that? Two words.

Social media.

These two words, and the peer-to-peer communications explosion they represent, did not exist in 1979 when the Ixtoc oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, nor did those two words and the social web technology that they describe exist when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989. Ixtoc and Valdez are two environmental accidents that are on a similar scale as the current BP spill. But the corporate image pitfalls of those pre-social media accidents will not live on to the same extent as will those of the BP spill.

Those corporate image perils will not be as threatening because social media did not exist during the times of Ixtoc and Valdez. And because there was no social media then, there would simply not be as much deposited about the Ixtoc or Valdez incidents within blogs, social networks, mini-blogs, photo sharing sites, etc. as there would be about the BP incident which is now playing out under the watchful eye of the pervasive social media world that grows daily. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and blogs galore are alight with news, opinions, and lies about the BP disaster. The extent of the social media coverage, much of it launched by “citizen journalists,” is so voluminous, too voluminous in fact, that it cannot be chronicled here. For your own customized look, you may simply enjoy the miracle of Google and type “BP” into their search box. But here I can, at least, take a quick look at one social media view of the BP accident. This one is particularly unique among all the social media haranguing of the hapless British multinational.

Prompted by the BP rig explosion and the ensuing spill, Greenpeace, the global environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), initiated a “Rebrand the BP Logo” contest. Via the Internet, Greenpeace asked its supporters to submit their own versions of the BP logo, telling them:

“ . . . create a logo for BP which shows that the company is not 'beyond petroleum' - they're up to their necks in tar sands and deepwater drilling.”

And what did the NGO say they would do with the winning redesign? (Which is known in other parlance as a “culture jam.”)

“The winning logo will be used by us in innovative and exciting ways as part of our international campaign against the oil company.” (Both quotes per Greenpeace Web site - http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/gulf-oil-spill/bp-logo)

Bill Boushka said...

The rest of the piece follows: (was more than 4096 characters)

Now, when viewed by the casual observer such an action might seem clever, cute, even perhaps tongue-in-cheek. Certainly because of these characteristics, the Greenpeace campaign would attract a lot of attention. But, when viewed from the perspective of a business person, it’s plain to see that this campaign will also add further contemporary damage to the BP corporate image. Be that as it may, let’s not be short-sighted and forget the BP of the future. That damage will be of an extended nature, one of a “silent killer” which will continue to injure the corporate image long after the last gallon of oil is scooped up, long after the last pelican is cleaned and released, and long after all compensation is awarded, no matter how much more “green” that energy company attempts to become. That injury to the future BP corporate image will endure because of the way Greenpeace collected the contest entries.

Greenpeace asked the contest entrants to submit their entries to a photo group on Flickr.com, the social photo and image sharing site. (Such sites in social media are sometimes known as “plogs,” short for “photo blog.”) When the contest ended on June 28, 2010, there were approximately 2,500 entries in the two Flickr.com photo groups, “Behind the Logo 1 & 2,” that Greenpeace had set up for their purpose. Also at that time, there had been about 600,000 views of the logo rebrands entered, views racked up in only a matter of a few weeks. In terms of numbers of future views, what do you think that number implies if these images remain on Flickr.com?

It doesn’t seem likely that Greenpeace would remove all these rebrand entries once the contest is complete. Why would they? And in that case, for as long as Greenpeace keeps its Flickr.com account active, these images will live “forever” on Flickr.com, and they will be available for people to digitally share and pass around as they like, ad infinitum, and ad nauseum for BP. Even if, at some point, Greenpeace did remove these logo rebrand entries from Flickr.com, in all probability, because these images would have been exchanged online, digitally migrating away from Flickr.com, moving from one site to the next, they will continue to live indefinitely on the larger social web.

So, given this one silent social media killer example, and because of all the other countless social media “pastings” of the BP brand that exist out there on the social web, I believe it will be very difficult for BP to survive the perpetual corporate image impact. This is an impact borne of an easy to use tool, accessible to almost everyone in the developed world, that didn’t exist a half dozen years ago and one which will likely become more pervasive as time marches on.

What does that signal for BP? And what does that indicate for any other company, such as yours, which is either rightly or wrongly accused within social media?

About the author:
Richard Telofski is the founder and president of The Kahuna Content Company, Inc. a competitive strategy consultancy. He was also the founder and head of The Becker Research Company, Inc., one of the world's first competitive intelligence consultancies, where he worked with Fortune 100 clients. Telofski is the author of four books including Insidious Competition and Dangerous Competition. For more information please visit: www.InsidiousCompetition.com

Anonymous said...

I’m a consultant working with Palo Alto Networks; they have an excellent whitepaper on the subject of blocking social networking apps that you may have to worry about, “To Block or Not. Is that the question?” here: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp. It has lots of insightful and useful information about identifying and controlling Enterprise 2.0 apps (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc). Enjoy!