By Lisa Kuehl, Sr. Marketing Manager, Entertainment® Rewards & Incentives
Utilities and retail energy companies are using social media more than ever to connect to their customer base. 70% of the US population is on social media, which is a statistic difficult to ignore. Utilities are changing the traditional way of communicating with customers and are now using blogs, posts and newsfeeds.
Customers are using social media to make decisions on what to buy and from who, often using social media to ask peers for options and recommendations. A rising number of utilities are integrating their traditional marketing communications with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, the top social networks in the US, because they are powerful engagement and retention tools.
As a competitive energy company, you can build your social media audience by using it as a communication hub of important information such as outages, impending weather, educational posts to increase knowledge of how to use certain products, such as smart-meters, or other service options.
Once you have built your audience, use the social networks to enhance the perception and sentiments towards your brand. Consumers are looking for two-way communication from brands and will readily share their sentiments whether positive, negative or neutral openly. Your utility can identify influencers and nay-sayers and can engage with them proactively to drive customer service excellence and gain consumer loyalty.
Integrating your social media communication with your CRM can increase the timeliness of communication about outages, or shortages by region. Social outreach can be deployed in seconds aiding in the trust with your brand. Aligning social media with your call center can help create consistent communication across all channels.
See how the most common social channels can work to create positive experiences and engagement with your utility:
Facebook — The largest social network in the US. Utilities can create a page that include upcoming events, videos, photographs and helpful tip posts as well as getting adoption in your critical initiatives, like paperless billing and payments. Facebook sends more website referral traffic than any other social media network. Adding advertising on Facebook can be targeted to any demographic in your area. On Facebook you can also “boost” certain posts with a reasonable advertising budget, which can extend your reach and deliver important metrics. Facebook is key to keeping your customers on top of all your relevant communications and creating the engagement to push your business initiatives further. It is important to note, that to be most effective, you should have a response strategy to all social media posts that mandates timely responses. This also add to the trust in your company.
Twitter — increasingly popular as a micro-communication tool, considered both a news platform and a social platform. Quick, short communications can bring your audience to your website to see more. Twitter can be great for influencers who can communicate with their audiences.
YouTube — Is to distribute video content to your customers and potential customers. YouTube is best for an educational message on products, features, or instructions. It is also a great way to talk about energy-saving and safety tips.
Instagram — is best for photographs and hashtags. Younger aged audiences use Instagram to show photos of places they go, things they do, etc. This would be the best medium to post feel-good content, social responsibility posts, and other visually appealing images.
Re-post on Multiple Platforms
It is best to know your audience and what social platforms they use via customer research. A good strategy to keep in mind is consistency in posting to all platforms. Each has a different best practice in terms of number of times per week that is ideal:
Facebook=1 to 4 times per week
Twitter=2 to 10 times per week including re-tweets and replies
YouTube=Weekly or when applicable
Instagram=1 to 7 times per week
When faced with irrelevant, boring, untimely content, amidst the abundance of information and content, consumers are left with no choice but to scroll by those posts. Make your content relevant to your audience, meaningful, and timely.
The Average Lifespan of a Social Media Post
8-10 people consider themselves as blog readers. Writing interesting blogs and posting on your social media accounts can bolster interest in your utility, create repeat visitors and increase website visits.
If you are looking for incentives to increase participation in your social media programs or your company’s initiatives, consider good firms that can help boost participation and ROI.
Lisa Kuehl is Senior Marketing Manager at Entertainment® Rewards & Incentives.