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Illustration of marketers creating a social media strategy

Best Practices: Social Media Strategy for Energy Utilities

A social media strategy is an essential component of an energy utility’s digital marketing plan. You can provide real-time updates, share helpful information, receive feedback and connect directly with your customers. Most importantly, popular social media sites are where many customers spend their time online. In order to reach them, you need to spend time there, too.

To engage your audience and build a trusting relationship between your energy utility and social media followers, you’ll need to optimize what you post, when you post and where you post. Follow these best practices to make sure your social strategy earns shares and likes — and avoids getting unfriended.

Reach the right audience on the right platform

There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and it seems like a new one is generating buzz almost every week. Learning new platforms, creating accounts and managing all these profiles can be overwhelming, especially for time-strapped energy utility marketers.

The good news is, you don’t need to use every social media platform — just the ones that your customers use the most.

Facebook should be the primary focus for most energy utilities. It reaches the most residential customers and the widest audience overall. LinkedIn, meanwhile, is an ideal way to reach business customers. Posting on Twitter and Instagram can be effective, but these platforms aren’t essential to reach your audience.

  • With 2 billion users, Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching a residential audience.
  • LinkedIn has more than 575 million users, and 40% of users access it on a daily basis.
  • More than 80% of Instagram’s 1 billion users follow a business account.
  • There are more than 500 million tweets sent every day from Twitter’s 330 million users.

Use an appropriate voice on social

Social media platforms are more casual and conversational than other customer communication channels. You don’t want to come across as too stodgy, but you should also be true to your energy utility’s brand. Even when you’re being friendly and personable, you want to sound like a trusted community organization, not a sarcastic teenager.

Your energy utility should maintain the same voice, or personality, across all of your social media accounts. Aim to be authentic, helpful, knowledgeable and friendly each time you craft a social media post, regardless of the platform. But change your tone based on who you’re targeting and the situation at hand.

  • Residential customers want to be entertained, while business customers want to stay up to date on industry trends and news.
  • Be personable to delight and amuse your audience on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Be direct with clear and concise language when posting to LinkedIn.
  • Be sympathetic and understanding in your posts when addressing an outage, natural disaster or other crisis.

Pick the best times to post

Social media tends to be ephemeral. Messages are consumed within a fairly short window after being published, without a lot of staying power. In fact, studies have shown that most retweets on Twitter happen with the first hour after tweeting. As a result, you want to post when your customers are online to see it.

You can find loads of conventional wisdom about the best days and times to share posts, but each audience is different. To find out what works best for your customers, try posting at different times on multiple days throughout the week to see which posts get the most engagement. Those results can help inform your social media strategy moving forward.

These recommendations, based on Questline performance metrics, can help you get started:

  • Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram posts shared on Sunday often see the worst engagement; the worst day for Twitter is Saturday.
  • Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best performing days overall.
  • Facebook posts perform well when posted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
  • LinkedIn posts see the most engagement when shared from 8 to 10 a.m. and at noon Wednesday; at 9 a.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday; and at 9 a.m. Friday.
  • Instagram posts perform well when shared at 11 a.m. Wednesday and from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday.
  • Twitter posts perform best at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday; posts shared weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. see high engagement as well.

Keep it short, sweet and visually engaging

Social media users enjoy posts that get to the point quickly and concisely. They want to easily understand what program you’re promoting or why they should click the link you shared. The shorter your message, the better chance you have of capturing their attention.

Even better than sharing a text-based post, try to draw your audience in with an eye-catching video, infographic, animated GIF or photo. Adding visual components to your social media posts makes them more engaging. When posts grab their attention, audiences interact more in the form of likes, comments and shares.

  • According to Questline performance metrics, energy utility social media posts with videos, GIFs and images see the most engagement.
  • Posts with videos get 200% more likes, comments and shares than those with just links or no media at all.
  • Add a GIF or short infographic to your social media post to demonstrate a complex topic quickly and clearly with engaging visuals.

The right social media content can help you build a strong digital relationship with your audience — and ultimately increase customer satisfaction by making your energy utility relatable and accessible. By following these best practices, you can connect with customers on the platforms they use most, at the times they’re online and with the right information.

Download Questline’s digital marketing tip sheet, “Best Practices: Social Media Marketing.”