September 23, 2013
Utility companies have entered the social media age, using Twitter to communicate with customers and Facebook to let them compete for prizes by reaching energy-efficiency targets. As The Wall Street Journal reports, some utilities are posting photos on social sites like Flickr and Instagram and videos on YouTube.
“The way utilities view social media is radically changing,” says Greg Guthridge of Accenture Energy Consumer Services. Especially during power outages, social media have become primary sources of contact for many utilities. Customer tweets help the companies quickly pinpoint and fix outages. When landlines and home computers are down, consumers with mobile devices use Twitter as a quick, simple way to alert their power company.
Tim Laughlin, social media manager at Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, says customers who follow the company on Twitter respond best to advice on saving money, information on renewable energy and tips on preparing for storms. Utility companies try to localize their messages through different Twitter accounts so that customers only see information relevant to them — not updates on outages hundreds of miles away. — Greg Beaubien