Content Marketing Blog

When online marketing goes wrong: Shell’s social media disaster

There's no denying that the internet and the rise of social media sites have revolutionised the way we do business.

For the most part, the world wide web has brought about positive changes. Not only are people more connected than ever before, social media sites also provide businesses with an interactive and effective way to engage with customers.

Yet with all the positives, there are a few negatives, too. One of the main challenges that companies face in today's modern era is security. Protecting original content on the internet is not always easy, especially when people see the online space as a community for sharing and collaborating.

Despite extensive copyright and intellectual property laws, once fresh content and images are on the internet and made publicly available for all to see, it is very hard for the owner or publisher to retain complete control over what happens with them next.

Multinational oil firm Shell has learnt this lesson the hard way, in what commentators are calling a 'social media oil spill'.

The company has been the victim of an on-going attack on their brand for months now, with its latest advertising campaign 'let's go' prompting parody and mockery from protestors around the world.

Greenpeace activists allegedly created a hoax website called ArcticReady that looked almost identical to one of Shell's web pages, causing many people to believe that it is an official Shell information source.

Given the content on this site is controversial to say the least, the oil firm are now struggling to regain control and remind the public that they are not behind the false site.

To add to confusion, the activists have now allegedly created a false Twitter account with the handle @ShellisPrepared. Here they are pretending to be the company and are warning users to stop retweeting and sharing fake content or face legal action.

The situation is complicated, to say the least, and is bound to have repercussions for Shell's brand name – especially since this story is making headlines across the world. 

If one good thing has come out of this, it's that other companies can sit back and learn from the situation. Might be time to put that social media strategy in place to protect your content and improve your brand perception.

Posted by Jess O'Connor