In a day and age when more and more businesses are turning to social media to engage with current and potential customers, it seems like some in the business of providing energy are giving social networks the big chill, while others are heating up.
According to a Pike Research estimate from last year, some 57 million customers around the world were expected to engage utilities on social media in 2011, with that number projected to increase to 624 million customers within six years. The report goes on to note that while a number of utilities have engaged the public in social media, others have been slow to the cause.
For utilities that have been dragging their feet when it comes to social media engagement, they should note some of the benefits include:
- Informing customers on new products and services that can be of benefit to them;
- Answering customer inquiries regarding their services, billing issues, complaints;
- Educating customers on how to save money on their electric bills through conservation and other means;
- Assisting customers during power interruptions on when and where service should be up and running again.
Meantime, a recent Zpryme infographic reported on the top 10 utilities using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
According to the results:
- Reliant Energy had the most Likes on Facebook (19,443), followed by Florida Power & Light (14,270) and Detroit Edison (13,131).
- San Diego Gas & Electric lead the way with Twitter followers (16,379), followed by Public Service Electric & Gas (9,729) and Virginia Electric & Power Co. (8,854).
- On YouTube, Florida Power & Light topped the list with subscribers (278), followed by Puget Sound Energy (168), and Duke Energy Carolinas (148).
So, how can utility companies best manage their operations in social media sites?
When it comes to using Facebook, it is important that companies create and update their fan page on a regular basis. This includes posting links to relevant articles on electricity, conserving energy during summer, and how to lower one’s electric bills by simple tasks at home.
Twitter serves as a good place to update news during power outages, such as the recent hurricane that hit much of the northeast. While many people obviously lost power, it was important, however, that utilities update customers via social media as to when power would be restored, etc.
While many customers dealt with the loss of power at home, others were able to get to sites that did have power, be they libraries, homes of relatives and/or friends, not to mention use their mobile devices.
Lastly, YouTube serves as a good education platform for utilities, whereby they can post videos that educate customers on how best to go about cutting their electric bills. One of the advantages of using YouTube is that the videos can be short, informational, and shared among countless individuals.
For utility companies that have been slow to the social media dance, not using all that social networks have to offer could leave some powerless to gaining and retaining customers.
image credit: capstrat.com
Dave Thomas, who writes on topics such as starting a home business and mobile payments, has 20+ years of experience as a business writer.