The Cycle

Exxon Mobil media adviser Alan Jeffries told PRWeek that the company asked Twitter to give it control over accounts associated with its brand, after a person calling herself “Janet” created an account in the oil company’s name and gained hundreds of followers. Janet is not an Exxon employee, the company says.

The “brandjacking” incident has generated a fair amount of attention in the media, at least online, since it was first reported by the Houston Chronicle a few weeks ago. (Jeffries said the company’s digital team discovered the tweeting itself, rather than hearing about it from the media, contrary to some reports.)

Jeffries declined to say one way or the other whether Exxon would begin sending out its own tweets. He did note that the incident has “reinforced” the company’s belief that it needs to look at all types of forums for communications.

More generally, the incident has apparently generated a fair amount of concern among companies that previously overlooked Twitter as a venue for communications. For example, a representative of Edelman said that the agency’s digital public affairs practice has received a number of requests from unnamed companies for advice on how to use Twitter in the several weeks since the Exxon incident was first revealed.

Among other things, Monte Lutz, a VP in Edelman’s digital public affairs practice, recommends being as transparent as possible in tweeting as well as being consistent in frequency. Think of tweeting like eating: do it no more than three or four times a day, he says.

Perhaps more intriguingly, just who is this Janet? Her Twitter  remains live but no longer describes her as with ExxonMobil and is now titled “Not-EMC.”


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