April 10, 2013

5 Examples of How Utilities Are Using Social Media to Reach Customers

Utilities use social media to share tips and safety information, provide reminders about outage maps, and demonstrate action and connection to their customers, especially when large storms affect their service territory. Twitter, Facebook, and other sites give utilities an opportunity to enter their customers’ discussions about storms, post photos to illustrate their explanations for delayed restoration, manage customers’ expectations, and demonstrate their efforts at recovery.

Con Edison uses Twitter to demonstrate awareness and action to New Yorkers after Sandy

As described in the Huffington Post article, “Behind @ConEdison: The 27 Year Old Preventing Panic, One Tweet at a Time,” Con Edison more than doubled their normal number of tweets following Hurricane Sandy, using Twitter to communicate and connect with their customers, responding to questions, offering status updates, and even providing safety warnings. By being proactive, Con Edison became an “indispensable resource” for their customers and increased their follower base from 800 to more than 22,300 in less than a week.

As the Huffington Post summarized, “While most companies seem to get quieter in times of trouble, the volume of tweets sent daily from Con Edison’s Twitter account … sends the message to customers that the giant utility is aware and responding to their problems. Instead of ‘trust us,’ @ConEdison says ‘we hear you’ — and here’s what we’re doing about it.”

Central Hudson uses Twitter to direct customers to a list of helpful links on Facebook ahead of a February blizzard

LIPA directs a customer to options for outage reporting and status updates

Pepco provides an ETR and directs a customer to an outage map

Oncor gives a customer options for outage reporting

Even without knowing the name of the representative behind a Twitter feed or Facebook page, customers are reassured that they’re in touch with a person who hears them and empathizes with them, and that means a lot to people worrying and waiting for power. It’s great to see utilities use social media in times of crisis to reach their customers, reassure them, and remind them that their utility hears and is working on their behalf.