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March 25, 2015 - 03:00
Intelligent Utility

Blue sky social media for utilities

By Stephanie Francoeur
 
It’s three days after a hurricane first hit your region. The winds have finally calmed down, power has been restored to all customers, and your utility is returning to normal operations.  You’re a communications manager settling into a normal day, when you check your utility’s social media channels and realize that your network grew exponentially during the storm. Your small community swelled seemingly overnight. First, you celebrate this social media success with a fresh cup of coffee. Then, you ask yourself, how do I retain these new audience members and keep them engaged outside of a major weather event? 
 
Utilities typically gain the most social media growth during storms.  Information-hungry customers turn to social media during emergencies for frequent updates on outages and restoration times. For example, Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, experienced a 10% increase in total Twitter followers and a 60% increase in Facebook likes following a Thanksgiving storm in 2014.  The challenge that many utilities face is how to provide value and build relationships with social media users outside of these weather events. 
 
Following, is a blueprint that Unitil uses to retain and engage social media users during the 360-plus days of the year when the sky is blue and major weather events do not occur.
 
Read the full story, here
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