The global integrated communications consultancy found 57 percent of US consumers believe fracking is one of the three most important environmental issues today. Furthermore, 71 percent of the survey’s respondents say they hear about the issue at least every week and 79 percent say they hear about it primarily from social media.
Understanding that social media has become one of the top sources of public information on fracking, Makovsky found that most of the social conversation is taking place on Twitter from anti-fracking activists and groups. Analyzing 1.3 million Twitter mentions of fracking from January through July 2014, Makovsky found that anti-fracking advocates are generating 2,000 percent more impressions than those supportive of the issue.
For companies and associations in the oil and gas space trying to acquire a social license to operate — reflecting the local community’s acceptance or approval of a project or presence — effective use of social media is emerging as a critical success factor for resource development.
Companies that use outmoded tactics such as massive spending on TV advertising should expect poor results, says Andy Beck, executive vice president of Makovsky’s Energy and Sustainability Practice, adding that only 18 percent of respondents said they hear about fracking from TV ads.
To acquire a social license using social media, Makovsky recommends that oil and gas companies do a better job of understanding activists, identifying influencers, looking for and predicting behavior patterns, refining messaging, and creating more shareable content.
In addition to influencing consumers’ attitudes about specific environmental issues such as fracking, companies can also use social media to communicate sustainability strategies, according to Matthew Yeomans, author of the Social Media Sustainability Index, writing for the Guardian earlier this year.