It’s incredible to think that nearly three months after the BP oil platform exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana, thousands of gallons of oil are still spilling uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP’s attempts to clean up their reputation online have been as disastrous as their attempts to stem the oil leak. First there was the widespread derision as they attempted to force Twitter to remove an unofficial BP Global PR account that had amassed thousands of followers and was becoming a global hit. Since then, BP has deployed an aggressive approach in attempting to get its message online. Its strategy includes popular Internet destination ad buys and a social media effort implemented with the help of the PR arm of lead agency Ogilvy & Mather.

But if BP really wants to “use” social media to help fight the reputation backlash it’s facing, it needs to understand that the medium is a conversation, through listening, engaging, discussing and understanding. Without doing this, its campaign is destined for failure.

If only things were as black and white for those facing years of uncertainty as a result of this disaster, and with no end in sight to the thousands of gallons of oil still being pumped into the Gulf of Mexico everyday.