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Australians for Coal Social Media Scheme Backfires

Australians for Coal Social Media Scheme Backfires

A project to use social media to boost the profile of coal mining, launched by industry majors like Rio Tinto has spectacularly backfired. The response to the #australiansforcoal campaign has been one of highly sarcastic mocking by Twitter users, illustrating the pitfalls of launching a badly thought through campaign when your product is considered highly controversial.

The responses generally take on a sarcastic tone, such as “I support #australiansforcoal because I’ve never witnessed a mass extinction event”, and

“i am bored with the coastlines being where they are and wish there was more violent weather and thats why i’m supporting #australiansforcoal”

“Because the Earth’s surface is 71% ocean. Let’s make that a nice, easy to remember 75%. For the kids. #australiansforcoal”. See more at the Guardian.

So the hashtag address used in their campaign, intended to help make it viral, has helped make this funnier and therefore also powered the whole mocking trend!

An intelligent strategy would have been remarkably simple – focus on ‘clean coal’ technologies, of which their are many, as well as many promising research programs like fuel cells that burn the coal so efficiently it produces CO2 emissions similar to methane burning whilst creating pure CO2 that can be sequestered more cost-effectively. Coal can also be liquified into vehicle fuels without necessarily contributing more CO2 than the liquid stuff pumped out of the ground, which when all is said and done, is still going to get pumped out. So a #australiansforcleancoal would have likely succeeded, whereas the message they actually sent out obviously wouldn’t.

Especially in the wake of nuclear disasters it is odd that the campaign was unable to capitalise on this. But clean coal requires technological vision, capital expense and vision. The lack of which by the backers of this PR scheme was dispatched ruthlessly by a tidal wave of scorn.

The whole disaster illustrates that social media responds intelligently and if a few people share a critical post on a company or scheme, the likelihood of that gaining traction and snowballing out of control can still be critically influenced by reason. If social media bloggers feel they can look politically intelligent and witty at the same time by satirising, this increases the chance of such a failure, but this is less likely if your message is altogether more reasonable and earns some active counterpoint by other users. Social media posters are seeking affirmation through positive feedback and approval from their peers, and so being sufficiently reasonable to prevent such a consensus amongst the informed, is very important when employing PR exercises like this, especially when they seek to be ‘educational’ and shift an existing negative perception.

If you need any help with your content marketing efforts, then please get in contact with us here at Network Intellect.

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