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Facebook and Your Utility

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Everyone likes to bash Facebook given the privacy concerns associated with it, not to mention the literal bombardment of worthless information (who cares about your turkey sandwich?) and various other annoyances.

That said, Facebook remains the king of social media and should be the linchpin of your utility’s social media efforts. While you should have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and YouTube, Facebook offers the most benefits.

So, how should you be using it?

Keep things active, but don’t overwhelm your readers with too much information. A handful of posts a day is probably plenty. When there are weather-related outages or other issues, obviously you’re going to post much more often.

There should be a mixture of what you post.

Aside from power outage updates, you can link to any favorable news coverage you have recently obtained. Touting events you sponsor is fine, too — and post a few pictures after the event. You can even mention major community events you don’t sponsor.

It’s also advisable to occasionally mention programs and services you offer (with links). Those could be energy-saving programs or things like paying bills online or obtaining rebates for new energy efficient appliances.

Energy-saving tips are always a winner, especially during the coldest and hottest days,

Sharing holiday greetings is fine, but keep the religious aspect to a minimum. It seems kind of silly, but a “Happy Holidays” is less likely to raise someone’s ire than a “Merry Christmas.”

Messages about your community are fine, too. When the hometown team makes the playoffs, show your support. If a hometown actress wins an Oscar, congratulate her. If the city opens a new walking trail, talk it up.

You can even talk about bad news, so long as you’re careful. For example, if a fire kills three people, it’s fine to express sorrow. But avoid talking about crime, politics or any controversial hot button issue.

And you can also talk about random things. It can be something completely unrelated to your utility, such as touting National Puppy Day (yes, there is such a thing and it happened on March 23), or have a tie in, such as recognizing the father of electricity Ben Franklin on his birthday (Jan. 17).

In any case, keep all messages short and, where possible, illustrate them with good photos or graphics.

Finally, remember to monitor your Facebook page, as well as all social accounts, taking time to remove any inappropriate material and giving thanks when people post positive responses to your content.

When the responses aren’t positive, you should act promptly as well. There’s no need to let a complaint fester, especially if the issue can be resolved (sometimes you’ll want to do that offline). Always respond in a caring, attentive matter, even when the complaints aren’t necessarily valid or within the utility’s power to resolve; by listening and responding, you’ll win at least a few brownie points.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on April 17, 2019

Andy - thanks for sharing this.  I was at CS Week this past week and sat in on a discussion around social media from two gurus who have set up programs for their utilities: Lorraine Barrucco from PSEG and Jessica Fitzgerald from Eversource.  It was interesting to find that for one of the utilities Facebook was a better source while the other one it was Twitter.  Interesting!  Why do you think that is? 

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Andy Gotlieb on April 29, 2019

No clue -- could be the way the utility uses social media or perhaps it could be the personal preferences of area customers. I'm not sure I've ever seen any data on whether people in different parts of the US prefer different outlets.

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