Question for utilities: are you still asking “whether” you should be using social media? If so, you’ll need to do a bit of catch up.
According to Zpryme Research & Consulting’s infographic "Smart Grid Utilities Get Social", the Big 10 utilities are getting on board with a variety of social media platforms. As they should be. “98 percent of the U.S. online population is using social media for a whopping 1 out of every 5 minutes spent online.” That’s according to Eric Fleming, Director of Corporate Marketing at Opower.
Social media has become a communications staple for all ages, and that extends to communicating with utilities. Pike Research estimates that in five years, 624 million people worldwide will be using social media to engage with their utilities.
Utilities have a natural way to leverage that trend. Global consultant Accenture has shown that utilities are a customer’s first point of contact when it comes to signing up for energy efficiency programs, or seeking support on existing programs they’ve already joined.
Sounds promising. What’s the downside? A lack of trust in utilities. When it comes to information about steps to optimizing electricity consumption, consumers trust environmental, academic and consumer associations over utilities or electricity providers. Only 29 percent of respondents surveyed by Accenture view utilities as trusted advisors.
So here’s the opportunity: utilities can use social media to engage the new, tech savvy customer in a conversation about energy efficiency. “If utilities can convey messages that are relatable, digestible and transparent, they could fortify a new foundation of customer loyalty, convenience and satisfaction.” That’s according to the McDonnell Group’s recent post, Are Amercia's Largest Utilities Adopting Social Media? Are You Listening?
That’s worth a repeat. Say it with me now, utilties:
Keep repeating that mantra while you ask, how will you keep customers socially engaged, avoiding the dreaded “unsubscribe” and “unlike” buttons on Facebook? And their equivalents elsewhere?
The advice is the same for any business. You won’t do it by flooding customers with a lot of boring, self-serving, technical/corporate blah-blah.
Stay tuned. I’ll be digging into the “how-to” in future posts.