When Your Social Media Representation Isn't Actually Yours
from the who's-speaking-for-whom? dept
It’s been quite interesting over the past few months watching various companies make use of social media tools like Twitter to better communicate with customers or other constituents. Comcast has probably received the most attention, but some other companies have done some interesting things as well. Still, the world was fairly surprised last week when it appeared that oil giant Exxon Mobil was joining in on the fun. A Twitter account appeared that claimed to be a representative, Janet, from Exxon Mobil, and was linking to various stories of interest and responding to questions from the crowd. It appears that Janet wasn’t bad at representing Exxon Mobil’s views, but it turns out there was just a tiny problem: Exxon Mobil has no clue who she is and says she most certainly is not a representative of the company.
It’s not entirely clear who the person actually is or what s/he was trying to accomplish, but it does work to remind people that you shouldn’t believe everything you see online — even if it “feels” true. However, it does raise some other questions about the nature of an “official” spokesperson vs. amateur spokespeople. Whoever “Janet” is, “she” was apparently doing a pretty good job representing the interests of Exxon Mobil. Yes, that could change in an instant, or she could (and may have) misstated an Exxon Mobil position, but in an age where consumers speak up all the time against companies, it’s quite interesting to see one effectively standing up for a company as well. That doesn’t mean it’s good to see someone representing your brand falsely (that’s what we call “fraud”), but it does raise questions about “deputizing” amateurs to represent you in situations where it’s clear (unlike in this situation) they’re not official representatives, but amateurs who support what you do.