BP, BP, BP . . . and Social Media

These two subjects were the constant buzz of Safety 2010, and they're connected.

What does the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have in common with social media? We found the answer at Safety 2010, conveniently situated beside a downtown Baltimore harbor that has experienced its share of pollution and tragedy. Everyone was talking about the big spill -- lamenting the 11 lives lost, Gulf Coast residents unable to work, seafood and tourism industries devastated, the oiled birds, a way of life imperiled, and an environmental disaster unfolding in slow motion with 24/7 coverage.

Ironically, attendees were criticizing BP with about 100 BP employees in their midst, breaking bread together at the free lunches ASSE so generously provides. The count of approximately 100 was the estimate by ASSE of BP employees attending the conference.

One highly regarded consultant said all three of the companies most closely associated with the initial explosion and the resulting spill -- BP, Transocean, and Halliburton -- have been his clients for training sessions he's presented all over the world.

Meanwhile, exhibitors throughout the expo were talking about their growing interest and use of social media and marveling that having a presence there suddenly has become a business imperative for them.

BP uses these tools, of course. It had 15,731 followers on its Twitter page -- http://twitter.com/BP_America -- as of June 23. Six days earlier, the page was continually tweeting about CEO Tony Hayward's riveting testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee. The page linked to the C-SPAN3 live video of the day's hearing. The BP Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/BPAmerica.

Sustainability and corporate social responsibility, two hot topics one might have expected to grab much of the spotlight at the ASSE conference, weren't so hot this time. About three educational sessions were presented on each of them.

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