If spiking prices in the fuel and gas industry taught us something in 2022 it was how big of an impact they have on the local and global economy. As energy bills soared, so did conversations on social media. Discontent grew with news about the upcoming recession driven by high fuel prices. Fuel and gas companies found themselves at the forefront of backlash, suffering blows to their corporate image and reputation. 

In this digital age, messages quickly get amplified on social media, and with media literacy at an all-time low, misinformation and disinformation can significantly hurt your business. Even if the negative information circulating online about your business is true, you have to make sure you react on time to minimise the damage to your reputation.

Here are 5 ways how media monitoring can help you safeguard your reputation:

Identify key conversation drivers

Monitoring traditional and social media in real-time enables you to identify key conversation drivers that can help you prevent or mitigate crises. In July 2022, we closely monitored mainstream and social media conversations about the high gas and fuel costs in the UK market.

Our analysis showed that mentions peaked on 28 July, with the key conversation driver being the release of British Gas owner Centrica’s six-month earnings, which saw a fivefold increase in operating profits to GBP 1.34 billion amid soaring energy bills. 

The news caused an outrage on Twitter where users criticised the company pointing out that British consumers were struggling to cope with the rising energy bills. Some users shared an open letter to Centrica’s CEO, asking the company to stop raising energy prices for British gas customers. Timely media monitoring can discover these conversations early, giving you more time to prepare a good response and do damage control.

Discover the leading media types

Knowing where these conversations originate from and which platforms or news sites are fueling them can help you respond quickly to customer concerns. Our above-mentioned report showed that with 47%, Twitter was the leading media type during the period, with users expressing their frustration at the government and Bank of England for the high energy prices. They frequently compared the UK’s inflation and energy costs to those in Europe and often dismissed the notion that the rise in gas costs was attributable to the war in Ukraine. 

Mainstream media came in second place with 44%, followed by blogs in third place with 8%. Blog authors often criticised corporate greed for the cost-of-living crisis caused by soaring bills and stressed the UK’s need to devise a new energy strategy. Forum users debated the expected January energy prices and about switching their energy supplier to Green Energy UK due to their fixed rate tariffs, while some considered applying for the 400 GBP government initiative, aimed at helping families pay their energy bills.

Tap into the public’s sentiment

The sentiment is a powerful metric that lets you know how the public feels about your company. People’s feelings towards your company, especially in the fuel and gas industry, can have severe implications on your brand positioning. This is why you should monitor online mentions daily. By setting up queries with keywords about your company, competitors, and industry, you can filter mentions by sentiment (positive, neutral, negative) and learn:

  1. What are you doing right (positive sentiment)
  2. Where there is potential for improvement (neutral sentiment)
  3. When it’s time for you to step up and do damage control (negative sentiment)

Looking at July conversations about the fuel and gas prices in the UK, we observed that the majority of entries (50%) were neutral, as traditional media reported on the latest developments in gas prices in an informative manner. However, 34% of the overall sentiment was negative, coming from mainstream media outlets reporting on the shortages food banks faced, as the rising energy and food costs pushed consumers into poverty. Negativity also came from the growing campaign among British citizens to boycott paying their October bills, and the looming recession, due to the escalating cost of food and fuel.

Learn about the key topics of public interest

To provide better service and products, you have to know what topics interest and impact your target audiences. As fuel and gas prices spiked in the UK, these were the 5 main topics discussed on mainstream and social media:

Centrica backlash
Costs of living
Russian impact
New Bank of England rates
Energy Bill Support Scheme

You can read more about what was discussed under each topic by downloading our report.

Analyse the most engaging posts by top sources and influencers

Given the huge impact that the changing prices and availability of fuel and gas have on everyday lives, it is expected that powerful sources will cover the industry news. Although all negative coverage should be treated as an equally dangerous threat to a company’s reputation, posts or articles by sources influential in terms of online reach can be especially detrimental

For example, the top post in terms of engagement (47.2K) came from an article by The Telegraph. It addressed the UK’s soaring household bills, as the country’s energy watchdog confirmed that prices would rise more than expected. Some experts even predicted that they could reach 367 GBP monthly. Four out of the five remaining top posts criticised British Gas owner Centrica’s record-breaking quarterly results, against the background of British households struggling to cope with the new energy price hikes. 

The top social media influencer for July in the UK market was Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite), the Assistant General Secretary of Unite trade union, who at the time of writing has 104.8K Followers. Beckett posted several tweets criticising Shell and Centrica, the UK’s gas provider, for their profits and plea for government funding, in light of the rising gas and energy prices. In nearly all of his tweets, he called for the nationalisation of energy companies in the UK.

These types of mentions, if left unmonitored, have the potential to provoke social change that can harm the company’s current and future business prospects.  

How can we help?

A Data Pro’s multilingual teams have experience monitoring mainstream and social media mentions in over 50 languages. We can help you improve your crisis management by sending daily alerts and creating in-depth analysis reports that focus on local and global markets. 

We will summarise the most important news stories related to your business so that you don’t have to go through all of the content yourself. Leave the heavy lifting to us and focus on important decision-making. 

Download the full report

For more details, download our Gas & Fuel Prices Report.