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BLOG: Social media in the utility industry – Is it working?

Lee Gallagher | Oct. 4, 2011
Utility companies are engaging with customers via social media in efforts to create a better overall customer experience.

Regardless of industry, social media use is on the rise. Even hard knock companies in the chemical or manufacturing industries are beginning to understand the value social media brings to their companies. InfoPrint Solutions Company for example, began its journey into social media a few years back and even went as far as to encourage its employees to blog and tweet.

This was quite a departure from its heritage as a hardware manufacturer. So it is no surprise that even the most regulated industries such as utilities have begun to tweet. Recently E-Source did a survey to find out how many utility companies are using social media. And as expected, similar to our main objective for social media, most uses are for customer communications.

Utility companies are engaging with customers via social media in efforts to create a better overall customer experience. E-Source found that hundreds of utility companies are using social media, and that the most successful ones see the long term benefit and are investing in their staff and time to incorporate social media into their day to day communication efforts.

This integration should eventually be tied to all customer communications. Would it not be nice as a consumer to have images at the bottom of bills providing more information on the Web from utility companies?

Considering the overall "instant and immediate" concept of social media, these channels might be the first place to look for more accurate, up-to-date information on services, local initiatives and more.

Up-and-coming position

In related news, the Energy Collective recently posted an article about the growth of Consumer Experience Managers (CEM) as an up-and-coming position within the industry. This job is a blend of promoting the Smart Grid within social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. CEMs use new methods to enhance the traditional hoping to increase positive customer relationships and loyalty while decreasing disengagement which leads to frustrated, unhappy customers.

Some consumers may view their utility company as "old school" but these statistics and steps highlighted above ensure that these companies are in fact embracing "new" mediums. Companies are taking advantage of social media to educate and inform its customers of anything from smart grids to new policies - and by the looks of it, it is paying off.

Lee Gallagher is director, Precision Marketing Enablement, InfoPrint Solutions Company.



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