How a gas company powered up its social media efforts

Chesapeake Energy is responding to critics (now) and preparing for disaster (hopefully never).

A boater on a river in northeastern Pennsylvania—where Chesapeake Energy Corp. is producing natural gas—recently noticed an unmarked intake pump.

Water is used in drilling gas—OK, fine—but a pump without a buoy is a hazard that a boat or other watercraft could hit. So the irate boater jumped on the company’s Facebook page and posted an all-caps message demanding that somebody fix the problem.

Blake Jackson, social media coordinator for the Oklahoma City-based gas and oil producer, noticed it and connected the boater with a company official in Pennsylvania. Within two days, a buoy was in place.

The company not only had help in identifying a hazard and potential liability, it won over a critic in what Jackson likes to call “an opportunity for conversion.” The boater even posted a thank-you.

Chesapeake is seeking to change the way communications is done in an industry that has a reputation for being unresponsive and placing profits above the little guy, he says. Employing a strategy that is all the more important in the wake of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the goal is to engage individuals rather than try to drown them out with a behemoth corporate voice.

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