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Social Media and Energy Companies - Başak Bozoğlu

Social media have become a new phenomenon in the last five year. Although the purpose of various social media platforms in its first establishment was to increase the interaction between people, it is now a network system that connects the whole world. Social media have a crucial part of people’s everyday life. Social media have changed people’s media usage habits in their everyday life. People not only produce their content on their platforms but also fundamentally consume others’ contents. People can share what they wear, write what they consider, or follow celebrities but the most significant issue for social media, its new place in business marketing.

According to Statista, Facebook currently owns four of the biggest social media platforms, all with over 1 billion monthly active users each: Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. So, the number of people who are using, improving, reacting, and responding through social media has a massive impact on social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn turned into a new generation billboard. Whether local or global, companies are now trying to show their brand’s identities to people and potential customers through social media. This situation has led to changes in the public relations and marketing departments of all sectors, large and small, and almost all companies have started to determine social media strategies. What is the best practice for a company to have an efficient social media strategy?

Determine Your Target: As a company, it should be defined the target profile. One of the social media strategies is finding your target age, gender, or socio-economic group and create content to influence more effectively to change people’s actions and thoughts. For all companies and industries, there are some questions you should ask first; Who is your target audience, which age group do you want to address, or to whom do you want to sell your products? If you are in the fashion industry, you cannot be successful by marketing baby clothes to the 50-60 age group on social media.

Educate Your Audience: After determining the target audience, the next step is educating your target. Social media seem like an entertainment platform in general, but actually, the crucial thing is to impact people’s actions. As a solar energy company, your main priority is to convey to your customers their questions. Why should we use solar energy? What is the benefit of using solar energy? What is its contribution to the world and climate change? How does it benefit you economically? The significant thing is that informing people who are the actual consumer and educate them in that area. Or, people cannot have enough background information about your products or your services. It should be provided that people keep updated and provide sufficient details about the related industry; in this way, the industry or company crate an awareness of what is happenings within the renewable energy or oil and gas industry.

Make Sure to Communicate: When the issue comes to social media, the most important thing is to contact people; otherwise, it will be no different from traditional media. The thing that strengthens social media so much is that people can interact. When a company builds up a robust communication system in social media strategies, it causes people to show habitual behaviors. LaRose (2010) argues that over half of all media behaviors are habitual (p.194). It has become a habit to follow someone’s life regularly.

The significant element is keeping people in the application and showing them the options, others’ and advertisements, and creating frequency to build up habits. When a person asks questions and writes a comment on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook, it is much more useful to see the responses given by a company. The other issue is keeping updated as a company. When the company’s social media strategies allow connecting people, people also inform them with feedback, rumors in the industry, the positive or negative side of the product, service, or system.

According to Energy Marketing Conference’s data, a powerful strategy to keep in mind is consistency in posting to all platforms.

Each has a different best practice in terms of the number of times per week that is ideal:

Facebook=1 to 4 times per week

Twitter=2 to 10 times per week including re-tweets and replies,

YouTube=Weekly or when applicable

Instagram=1 to 7 times per week

Another feature of social media is that it has brought a new direction to the competitive environment. Companies now compete not only in their own sectors but also with the number of followers and interaction rates. But what about the struggle between fossil and renewable energy companies?

When renewable energy’s power and importance rise, oil and gas companies are rebranding their companies through social media to prevent negative reviews against themselves. According to CNBC’s interview with the young generation, where oil once represented progress and prosperity for a broad swath of the public, today, young people panicked about climate change regarding the industry with suspicion and contempt. Companies are keenly aware of this fact and have responded with ads and social media campaigns to win over the next generation of workers and consumers.

For instance, Shell promotes a video on its YouTube channel to attract young generation awareness. In the video, two young women with neon hair talk about their solar panels and their hybrid car, how they’re trying to go vegan, and how they love natural gas, a key driver of climate change. They said that ‘because it’s the most sustainable way to fuel their life.’ Surprisingly, this move of the company was met with young people’s reactions between the ages of 14-17 and commented on the video that she was not believable.

After different trials, the general tendency among oil and gas companies using teenage, successful dancer, hockey champion, athlete, and supermodel who are not actors to take people’s attention on social media accounts.

According to Vouge’s news, in 2018, top oil and gas companies devoted only around 1 percent of their budgets to clean energy. That same year, the five most prominent firms, including Shell and BP, spent approximately $200 million on branding to persuade the public they care about climate change. They not only try to look good in the eyes of people but also manage social media in line with their political interests. Their strategy mostly depends on their history, power, and capital. NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) shows that oil companies in the U.S spend 2 million dollars on Facebook/Instagram to promoting the benefits of increased fossil fuel production and supporting successful opposition to several critical climate-related ballot initiatives.

On the other hand, renewable energy companies make their social and media strategies by keeping their target audience focused on the younger population, using more dynamic, highly credible, and malicious scenarios. Their strategy, mostly, depends on keeping in touch with the young generation and use short videos rather than creating substantial advertisement campaigns; they connect people via Instagram and YouTube channels. Also, by creating future-oriented content, they present the information they have done to people. The social media strategies more optimistic and more humanist planet-based promotions and campaigns.

Moreover, oil and gas companies or renewable energy companies do not deny that, rather than traditional media usage, both consumers and producers try to use social media effectively and increase their follower numbers. In the second quarter of 2020, Facebook reported over 3.1 billion users monthly. If companies want to make their voices, they should use social media’s power before it’s too late.


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