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Social Media Goes Mainstream in Oil & Gas

We raised awareness about the business benefits of enterprise social media use in the oil and gas industry through industry surveys, media and analyst briefings and alignment with a Microsoft customer event. The success of the PR campaign was recognized by AMA and IABC.

The Story

Collaboration has always been vital to oilfield operations, but due to industry complexities, oil and gas professionals require collaboration more than ever. Information technology (IT) is available in the form of enterprise social media and collaborative tools from Microsoft and its partners that can address these trends and facilitate more effective collaboration, knowledge sharing and heightened productivity. In 2008, a select few oil and gas companies were starting to use social media to facilitate collaboration globally.

How We Told the Story

We teamed with Microsoft’s Oil & Gas Industry group and its industry partner Accenture to document the industry need and business value of traditionally consumer-focused tools such as social media. Our goal was to communicate the significant business value of these toolsand address associated executive concerns related to cost and security. A key component of this two-part campaign was an initial global survey to identify industry perceptions, acceptance and adoption of social media and collaboration technologies in January 2009.

Microsoft carried the collaboration theme and messaging throughout its partner and customer discussions, most notably at Microsoft’s annual Global Energy Forum on February 18, 2009, which attracted over 550 business and technology decision makers. In a morning keynote, Microsoft Oil & Gas leaders shared the survey news before presenting an engineering scenario that demonstrated knowledge search, collaboration, problem solving and documentation using social media technology available in Windows 7 beta and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. We invited and supported 16 business and trade journalists at the event, who covered the survey news and collaboration presentations.

After a year-long, aggressive public relations campaign geared towards oil and gas industry decision makers and professionals, a follow-up Microsoft and Accenture-sponsored collaboration survey conducted in November 2009 by the same third-party research organization clearly showed a change in industry perception regarding the value of social media and collaboration technologies for work. According to results available in December, nearly three-fourths (73%) of industry professionals polled recognized the business value of using social media technology to collaborate in the work environment – an 83 percent jump from the benchmark survey findings earlier in the year. Results of this second survey were announced at Microsoft’s 2010 Global Energy Forum on January 21. Just like the 2009 Global Energy Forum, the 2010 event was an opportunity for Microsoft to demonstrate the role of enhanced collaboration.”

The second survey also examined results based on three geographic regions – North and South America; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific. The associated regional findings were announced at CERAWeek 2010, March 8 – 12, through a press release and briefings with four key trade journalists.

We shared the survey results on social media and connected with reporters and analyst using Twitter. This included a feature story on Microsoft News Center, Q&A with CERA analyst James Burkhard on The Official Microsoft Blog and real-time updates/links on Twitter.

The Result

Initial outreach of the first Microsoft and Accenture “Oil & Gas Collaboration Survey 2009” during Microsoft’s Global Energy Forum in early 2009, generated high-level exposure in top-tier business outlets such as Houston Chronicle and Dow Jones Newswires and over 15 top industry trade publications including Oil & Gas Journal (editorial), E&P and Digital Energy Journal. Both staff-written and contributed articles positioned Microsoft and Accenture as thought leaders, making the case for the business use of social media in the industry, with end user examples from ConocoPhillips, Shell and Baker Hughes. The campaign also garnered articles in 16 online news sites, blogs and Twitter feeds. Coverage of the 2010 survey findings generated articles in 22 business and trade outlets, online news sites, blogs and Twitter feeds to date.

During a briefing with Catherine Madden and Jill Feblowitz of IDC Energy Insights in early 2009, the analysts stated the survey was the first of its kind they had seen to quantify industry perception of the business value of and readiness for social media tools. Further, the survey was mentioned in a July 2009 white paper by Madden and Feblowitz, titled “Business Strategy: Beyond Web 2.0 – Semantic Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry.”

At the 2010 Global Energy Forum, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote address to an audience of over 680 customers, partners, Microsoft attendees and journalists, presenting his vision for next-generation information technology in the oil and gas industry. Steve’s remarks hit home for many oil-patch attendees, who agreed that in their industry, there’s “a lot of collaboration amongst and across company boundaries, inside individual companies, and to some of the strangest and most remote and distant parts of the world. All of that pushes the state of the art in information technology.”