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BP's Google Buy Aims To Get Oil Spill Web Traffic

BP's Google Buy Aims To Get Oil Spill Web Traffic
Floating carpets of thick blackish crude oil aren’t the only problem BP is trying to put a cap on. The company responsible for the biggest ecological disaster in U.S. history is facing huge criticism being spread through social media, and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight.

Bill Walker, general manager, Fleishman-Hillard said, “There has been an absolute explosion of peer-to-peer discussions about BP in social media on Twitter and Facebook and other sites and the vast majority of it is overwhelmingly negative.”

The latest criticism follows recent news that the company bought search terms from Google to direct users to the BP websites information on clean-up efforts.

A search done by ABC News for the words “oil spill” in the news portion of was showed in a highlighted link with the words “Learn more about how BP is helping,” on the tag line. BP spokesman Toby Odone said the aim was to make information more accessible.

Odone further told ABC,“We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer”.

Walker said buying search terms to direct users to a site is the digital equivalent of a newspaper ad, in this case bearing an apology.

“While arguably effective in terms of getting people to visit their website, the paid Google links come a little bit late in the game,” further said Walker.

The response within the social media field will likely become a case study for the students of public relations and demonstrates how important it is to get in front of a crisis before negative opinions can spread, said Walker.

“I think they could have contained the debate to their own twitter feed, had they engaged the community right off the bat. But they left a vacuum and the vacuum got filled."

The Google ads are already being discussed on a mock BP twitter feed with the tag BPGlobalPR, which has followers of more than a 140,000 people.

It seems that the Internet is being used to its best for starting a conversation and driving more traffic. What they do with these conversations is yet to be seen.

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