How Utilities Effectively Use Social Media to Communicate with Customers

If the wind isn’t howling outside our window, electricity customers don’t have a clue as to why the power is out. We just know one thing – it’s off and we can’t watch Stranger Things anymore. With situations like these, utilities have developed numerous methods of communication to help reach audiences who are left in the dark and who will need this type of information.

Social media has evolved into a crucial tool for utilities to maintain communication with their customers and act as an important resource. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are now commonly used to provide detailed information for electricity customers regarding their power (or lack thereof). Rather than a linear blast of information, social media creates a dialogue between utility and customer that is quicker and more interactive than just sending an email.

In order to maintain a positive relationship with customers when powerlines are on the ground, utilities must maintain this customer-focused relationship when the electricity is flowing. They do this by providing relevant information and content to their targeted audience. Although further away from face to face interaction, this humanized approach lets customers see utilities as not just a large corporation, but a group of hardworking people who listen and care about the customers’ electricity needs.

Although the answer to when the lights will go back on may not be immediately available, a quick blast of information of “where, when, who and what happened” along with a string of continuous updates gives customers something they can process until more details are available.

Social media also allows for mass distribution of visuals which many utilities use to their advantage to connect to their customer. Humans process visuals faster than text, and social posts with relevant visuals gain a 98% comprehension increase. Rather than describing how a tree knocked over a powerline a few blocks away, if we see what is in the field affecting our power at first glance, we can get more context of what lineworkers are going through on the job. Using one clear message across multiple channels creates a maximum audience reach, and the audience can then use the technology of their choice to access the information.

Social media is at its best when the communication is bidirectional. Tweeting utilities pictures of downed wires or heavy vegetation surrounding a transformer helps companies respond and react to customer inquiries.

Customer-centrism is key to maintaining a positive social media sentiment. If you are aware of the information your customers need at the right time, and the right way to reach them, your communication strategies will be effective when it matters most.