With a background in broadcast news, Todd Long has made it his mission to transform Huntsville Utilities into a valuable information source for customers. As Electronic Content Administrator, Long has taken a customer-centric approach to every communication, whether social media posts, news releases or episodes of the utility’s award-winning YouTube show.

“My very first job in television was writing news topicals, which promoted the stories of the day,” he recals. “I’d always ask the producers, ‘Tell me the story that has the most benefit to viewers.’ It’s the same approach I use here. I’m always looking to share useful information that will provide the most value to our customers.”

Headshot of Todd Long energy spotlight

Long and his team recently received the award for Most Creative Social Media Campaign at E Source Forum for Huntsville Utilities Television (HUTV). The show provides a lighthearted approach to important energy topics. While the show began as a Facebook Live every Friday, he explains, it proved too difficult to produce live during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team now creates weekly episodes in a pre-recorded format.

“My wheelhouse is producing for television, so I automatically default to shooting video, editing video or writing for video,” Long says. “I’ve turned this skill into an added bonus in my work here.”

In addition to his passion for video, Long understands the power of social media as a customer engagement tool. When he came to Huntsville Utilities nearly five years ago, they were only using social media for power outage updates. Since taking the helm, Long has grown the utility’s social media presence by sharing educational yet entertaining tips, need-to-know resources and heartfelt stories that humanize the utility. This has led to considerable growth on all digital platforms.

“The biggest thing that I tell people is to treat social media with the seriousness it deserves,” he explains. “In fact, 57% of people will go to a digital platform first if they want to make contact with your company. And the time of day doesn’t mean anything to your customers. They assume, ‘If I’m on social media right now, my utility should be too.’”

Most people only think about their energy utility when there is a power outage or when they receive their energy bill. That’s why Long focuses communications on being a helpful resource to customers, while also entertaining them. “I just like to have fun, laugh and make other people laugh,” he says. “If I can combine all of these things and get paid for it, what could be better than that?”

Along with the fun content on social media, he is also focused on educating customers on the realities of the utility industry and what it takes to keep their power on. “During an outage, our lineworkers aren’t just sitting around waiting for it to stop raining,” Long explains. “They are out in the storm risking serious injury or worse to get your power back on. I think showing this side of utility work has made a big impact.”

Questline Digital spoke with Long to get his thoughts on innovative ways to reach utility customers, changes in the industry and the essential role of social media.

How did you get started in the energy utility industry?

I ended up in it by chance. I’ve been in marketing and communications for just over 20 years. I was trained as a videographer and worked in an advertising agency straight out of college. I was eventually hired away by the CBS affiliate in the city where I lived, where they used me in their marketing and promotions department to produce what are known as “topicals.” These are the short commercials you see on network TV telling you why you should watch that station’s upcoming newscast. While that’s a very specific type of marketing, I’ve found the basic strategies behind it cross over into what I currently do in my work for the utility industry.

I continued doing this type of work for TV stations across the country, including Phoenix, Arizona, and Omaha, Nebraska, before finally settling in Huntsville, Alabama. It was at that point I decided to get out of broadcasting and move into something else, as the broadcast TV industry was struggling much like newspapers at the start of the internet age. 

After working for a defense contractor, being a freelancer and one last broadcasting gig, I learned of a new position being created at Huntsville Utilities for someone who would oversee all forms of digital communication, primarily social media. I applied for the job, not knowing they already had an internal candidate lined up. They changed their minds after my interview and, fortunately for me, here I sit. (Don’t worry, they found a different full-time job for the other guy.)

What has changed the most about your job working in the utility industry over the course of your career?

I’ve only been in the utility industry for about five years, so I wouldn’t say a lot has changed there. However, having been a communications professional for over 20 years, the biggest change — and it impacts all industries — has been the rise (and importance) of social media.

I have a presentation I give at webinars and conferences that discusses why (and I firmly believe this) your company’s social media presence is the most important thing your communications team is doing. The immediacy. The size of the audience. The low cost of use. The give and take with the customers. It’s completely redefined how utilities — or any company — communicate with customers.

Of course, something that important has to be used properly, and it bothered me when I would see a utility company that was basically taking the approach of, “Oh, social media is just a young person’s thing. Have an intern take care of it, and we’ll check it off the list.”

What excites you the most about the energy utility space? 

Being able to teach people more about it. When I first came on board at Huntsville Utilities, I spent so much time just doing research and asking questions, trying to learn as much as I could about what it takes to have this amazing infrastructure we have.

Now I get to pass that information along to our customers. So many people — myself included, before I joined the company — just take this for granted. Flip the switch, you’ve got light. Turn on the tap, there’s the water. Turn on the heater, the gas heats your home. But there’s just so much more to it than that. These people who work out in the field risk injury or worse every day. But if they didn’t do that, our society would degrade into something out of “The Walking Dead” pretty much overnight. The pandemic helped people realize that a lot more, I think.

What campaign or initiative are you most proud of?
We produce a weekly (well, when our schedule allows, it’s weekly) web show called HUTV: Huntsville Utilities Television. We take a serious, beneficial topic (how to prepare your home for winter, how to avoid utility scams, etc.) and “sandwich it in silliness.” Last month, we received the “Most Creative Social Media Campaign” award for it at the annual E Source Forum. You can check it out on our YouTube channel.

What’s a marketing campaign you wish you’d thought of (inside or outside the energy industry)?

Many years ago, there was a product called “Head On,” which was a rub-on headache remedy. The spots were just a guy saying, “Head On: Apply directly to the forehead” over and over again. Simple, but people remembered it.

What is the hardest part of working in the energy industry today? 
We’re a target. Some people just aren’t going to understand what it takes to provide them with electricity, water and natural gas. To them, we’re just the big building downtown that wants a check every month. Even though Huntsville Utilities literally has some of the lowest rates in the nation, we have customers who will still say they’re paying too much. And you can’t change their minds because they don’t want their minds to be changed.

There are a lot of people in this country who are just angry, and in a twisted way, being angry is what makes them happy. Social media has given them an outlet for that.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t working in the utility industry, I would be…

Still in communications/PR/advertising, but not in sales. I did that for a while and hated it. I definitely wouldn’t be having as much fun in life as I’m having now. I work with a great group of people and we’re all friends outside of work as well. I’ve had other companies contact me and ask me to consider working for them, but I always just tell them “No, thank you.” I’m having too much fun where I’m at.

How do you anticipate the world of energy evolving in the coming years?

Obviously, the discussion of climate change will continue. We’re a natural gas provider at Huntsville Utilities as well, but we don’t see too much of the anti-natural gas talk you see in other parts of the country. In fact, we have a waiting list for people who want it hooked up in their homes. We can’t get the pipe laid fast enough to keep up. Every now and then, someone will chime in with some “leave it in the ground” talk, but our customers tend to rally to the defense of natural gas.

Huntsville Utilities doesn’t generate electricity, we just purchase it from TVA as a distributor. But we do work closely with TVA and other organizations on projects involving renewable energy and long-term storage.

I also think we’re on the verge of a sudden, big jump in electric vehicle adoption. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and we’re starting to see it in Huntsville. I know I (personally) am tired of paying $3 per gallon.

What advice would you give to those entering the utility space?

Like any job, it’s not for everyone. I’m fortunate in that I ended up at a forward-thinking company that allows me to try new things and be out on the fringes a bit. The great thing about the utility industry is that while it’s going through changes, it will still always be around in some form or fashion.

Participation in Questline Digital’s Energy Spotlight series does not indicate an endorsement from utility partners.

The popular video-sharing app TikTok has been making headlines lately. It may leave you wondering if you’re missing out by not connecting with customers on the trendy social media platform. But does your energy utility really need a TikTok account?

It depends.

Every company that embraces the world of social media needs to go into it knowing that each platform attracts very different audiences. This is true especially for energy utilities.

Instead of jumping onto every new social media fad, take time to evaluate your energy utility’s marketing goals and understand the value of each platform. You don’t need a presence on every platform; you need a presence on the right platforms for your brand and audience.

What is TikTok?

TikTok allows users to create and share short-form videos that can range from 15 seconds to three minutes long. Creators sync videos with trending sounds and songs, as they perform dances, act out skits or offer informational tips and tricks. Basically, TikTok offers a bit of everything to its more than 1 billion monthly active users who tune in to laugh, learn or simply be entertained by quick video content.

How to determine if TikTok is the right social platform for your energy utility

Before creating a new account for your energy utility, follow this five-step process to determine how TikTok fits into your social media strategy.

  1. Know your engagement goals
  2. Determine if TikTok is the best platform to focus on
  3. Identify if your audience uses TikTok
  4. Analyze your analytics options
  5. Draft a content strategy

Know your engagement goals

What are you trying to achieve with social media? Are you trying to drive program participation, share informational content or simply just “show up”? Know what is motivating your energy utility to join a new social media platform before you jump in.

Determine if TikTok is the best platform to focus on

With other social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can simply take premade content and post it. TikTok, on the other hand, requires you to research trending topics, hashtags, sounds and songs, visual effects and more to create a relevant video that people will want to watch. The most successful videos utilize trending sounds, hashtags and challenges. Before starting your account, decide if you have the resources needed to support a TikTok account.

Identify if your audience uses TikTok

Like all marketing efforts, you should focus on the platforms and channels that help you reach your target audience. Look into the demographics of each social media platform you’re interested in using, starting with TikTok.

The age groups that use TikTok and Facebook differ, according to the Pew Research Center.


  • 21% of U.S. adults
  • 48% of 18- to 29-year-olds
  • 22% of 30- to 49-year-olds
  • 14% of 50- to 64-year-olds


  • 69% of U.S. adults
  • 70% of 18- to 29-year-olds
  • 77% of 30- to 49-year-olds
  • 73% of 50- to 64-year-olds

There is a plethora of research available on the demographics of any social platform. Use these resources to your advantage to decide which is right to reach your energy utility’s target audience.

Analyze your analytics options

Each social media platform has its own realm of analytics to monitor your engagement, reach, follower count and more. Still, every platform is different.

All TikTok accounts have access to analytics, but you’ll need a Business Account (formerly known as a Pro Account) to gain deeper access to metrics. Even then, some metrics show seven days’ worth of data, while others offer a seven- or 28-day look into the past. And any metrics related to time of day are not presented in your local timezone — they’re in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) — so you’ll need to convert them before interpreting the data.

Make sure TikTok’s analytics options will support your utility’s engagement goals.

Draft a content strategy

Lastly, you’ll want to develop a content strategy that will put your energy utility on the map and determine if — and how — TikTok fits in. Do you want to stick with infographics, articles and quizzes? Or are you willing to produce your own videos, showing your lineworkers in action or listing ways to save energy and money that sync to a popular song? Decide if TikTok fits into your overall content strategy before dedicating time and resources to the social platform.

TikTok Content Strategy for Energy Utilities

Engaging TikTok videos can take on different forms, from comedic performances to strictly informative tips. Choose one — or a mix of several — of these formats to achieve your energy utility’s social media goals.

  • Education. Teach customers how to read their energy bill or how time-of-use rates work through informative videos.
  • Life Hacks. Whether it’s changing an air filter or switching to LEDs, offer your audience ways to save energy with quick tips.
  • Awareness. Inform viewers of your utility’s efforts when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources to build trust and encourage adoption of products and solutions.
  • Comedy. Share safety tips and do’s and don’ts in the form of an entertaining story to educate viewers and put a smile on their face.
  • Connecting with younger audiences. More than half of the U.S. population is now the Millennial generation and younger. Match the fun tone and hop on trends to engage with this audience on TikTok.

Examples of Effective Energy Utility Content for TikTok

These content creators found creative and engaging ways to communicate energy education, tips and advice with TikTok videos.

Twin Home Experts expose caulking mistakes and share DIY home improvement hacks in this engaging video.


The ULTIMATE in Re-Caulking …..#caulking #tub #shower #foryou #plumbing #twinhomeexperts

♬ original sound – Twin home experts

Fayette Electric Cooperative used a trending sound and completed a fun challenge while promoting its Youth Tour to Washington.


apply now! deadline is jan. 21, 2022. #googleearthtrend #googleearthchallenge #googleearth #traveltiktok #travel #washingtondc #scholarship #texas

♬ original sound – Ian Asher

Loxone Electronics shared quick tips to cut electricity costs with captions, making the video more accessible for viewers.


Tips for saving up to 500$ in electricity costs per year 💵 #loxone #homeautomation #smarthome #electricbill #energysaving #fyp

♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) – Danilo Stankovic

Waste-Ed utilized a voiceover and edited video footage to communicate the benefits of charging with solar energy quickly and effectively.


Ready to swap your phone charger for a window solar panel? 📹grouphugsolar (IG) #solarenergy #chargingphone #renewableenergy #savingenergy

♬ A-Punk – Vampire Weekend

Best Practices for Energy Utilities on TikTok

If you decide to dive in and create a TikTok account for your energy utility, these tips can help you create successful content.

  • Use Hashtags. Hashtags can boost your visibility and reach, allowing users to find your content more easily. You can even search hashtags you use often to keep an eye on what other creators are posting.
  • Utilize Your Knowledge. Who better to offer energy-saving tips to customers than their own energy utility? Share quick fix ideas or behind-the-scenes information about utility operations to build that relationship with your audience.
  • Use Music. Sound is integral to TikTok videos. Use voiceovers and music that match the tone of your video, and time any actions or footage to match the beat. Explore sound playlists to find inspiration and trending sounds to help your videos stand out.
  • Be Authentic. Being genuine and personal helps users see the humans behind the company. Don’t be afraid to try something new and add some personality to your content.

Make sure a TikTok account is right for your energy utility

How your energy utility uses social media is more important than how many platforms it’s on. Make sure you research each social media platform and analyze how it aligns with your goals before you take on the responsibility of managing and monitoring yet another social account.

Be wary, too, of social media trends that barely outlast the latest internet meme. Remember Vine? Neither do we. Be prepared to adjust your strategy with social media as the industry grows and develops.

Interested in creating a social media strategy for your energy utility but don’t know where to begin? Questline Digital can help.

Whether it’s hurricanes, high winds, extreme heat or cold, every utility faces its own set of weather-related issues that can leave customers in the dark. More energy companies are using social media in their outage communications plans to reassure customers and share updates.

But some utilities may be wondering about the best practices in outage communications – are they posting the right information, at the right time, on the right channels, or even reaching the right customers.

Social media is an absolute must-have in our digital world. Customers will often visit your energy utility’s social media pages to find answers to questions or updates on service information before they ever click through to your website. This is why it’s important your social media is built up with appropriate links, FAQs and posts with relevant information that have your customers in mind.

When it comes to communicating outages, social media is your utility’s best friend. It allows you to provide quick updates so customers aren’t left in the dark. Continue reading for best practices in outage communications and examples.

What are outage communications?

Outage communications are an essential part of any energy utility’s marketing and communications strategy. When the power goes out, customers need answers. They look to your energy utility for explanations, details and estimated restoration times, in addition to safety and security protocols.

In the past, best practices in outage communication may have centered around emails, phone calls or even fax. Now, however, customers expect immediate updates via text alerts, real-time outage maps and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Best practices in outage communication

Power outages can leave customers concerned and confused, but your relevant, quick communications can help alleviate these feelings. Keeping customers informed of outages is generally the same across all platforms. You must:

  • Alert customers as soon as possible
  • Send follow-up links of outage maps or restoration times
  • Provide safety tips and suggestions
  • Respond to customer questions or concerns

Best practices in outage communication comes down to your utility making customers the top priority. Proactive and timely information is what social media is all about. The more you can tell customers about the situation, the better.

Its best to share information on multiple platforms including email, text, your website and social media to ensure your customers see the updates on the platform of their choosing. However, remember to post frequently on social media, as this is where customers tend to turn for quick information in today’s digital age.

How to use social media in your outage communication plan

Statistics show that 3.96 billion people currently use social media worldwide. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 72% of U.S. adults use at least one social media site, with 69% saying they use Facebook, 40% Instagram and 23% Twitter.

It’s important to have a social presence for various reasons, including:

  • Customer choice – It provides another way to meet customers where they are
  • More connection points – In addition to email or phone calls, now you can engage with customers on social media
  • Show humanity and brand personality – Customers want and expect to see more behind-the-scenes and genuine content on social media
  • Control the story – Your social media page, your story; control what customers see about your utility with a planned social media strategy
  • Overcome misinformation – “Facts” spread like wildfire on social media, which makes it all the more important to set the record straight quickly

It’s clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. While your energy utility doesn’t need to be on every single social media platform, it’s important you know which ones your customers are using so you can quickly reach them with pertinent information. We suggest using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for real-time updates and using YouTube to post and share proactive safety videos well in advance of an outage.

When using social media, keep in mind these best practices for outage communications:

  • Customers appreciate frequent, real-time updates rather than waiting for one large update. Doing so can help your utility see a reduction in call center traffic and customer frustration.
  • Use social media to drive customers to other important outage information, like your outage map or safety tips. It’s a good idea to keep one page of your website dedicated to this information.
  • Confirm when full restoration has been reached and thank customers for their patience. No one likes being in the dark – your communications and gratitude will help customers feel like they know what’s happening every step of the way.
  • Listen and respond – customers will often post questions or concerns on your utility’s social pages or posts. It’s important to not let these comments fall by the wayside. Respond accordingly with reassuring tones and as much information as you can, including links to your outage map, real-time restoration updates or safety tips.

Successful customer engagement on social media

At CS Week 2021, Oncor shared that their real-time updates were powerful contributors to increased follower counts after big-weather events. For example, they saw a 68% increase in Twitter followers during the five days of Texas storms earlier this year.

Customers want and expect replies to their comments or questions on social media and, more-so, expect them in a timely fashion. According to Statista, 47% of U.S. consumers have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer questions or complaints on social media. Further, customers expect a response within one hour, yet 45% of brands take more than five days to respond to messages.

Replying quickly to customers with relevant information can lead to a positive customer experience, which in turn leads to:

  • Brand loyalty
  • Increased sales
  • Customer retention

When replying to customers, consider when to handle a situation publicly or privately. Many times, it helps to answer questions publicly for other customers to easily see the answers. Plus, this shows that you are, in fact, replying to comments. However, sometimes there is sensitive information involved, like requiring an account number or address to further investigate a situation. In these cases, publicly replying to the customer that the conversation should become private will still show your utility as a responsive resource, while keeping the customers’ information secure.

This is typically how Oncor handles situations as well. At CS Week 2021 they said that 93% of their customer service requests on social media are related to outages and 77% of those are posted publicly for all to see. Their goal, however, is to respond publicly with a personal note, but ultimately move it to a private chat.

Examples of outage communications on social media

Social Media Meteorologist – Facebook

Oncor hired a meteorologist specific to their social media team to report on real-time storms and outages in live videos and posts on their platforms. This is a unique approach to delivering relevant and quick information to customers.

Example of outage communications on social media

Listen and Respond – Facebook

In response to a post about crews working to restore power, many Duquesne Light Company customers had questions about when they could expect their power to be back. DLC quickly responded to comments about the expected restoration times and thanked customers for their patience.

Example of outage communications on social media

Be Proactive and Know Your Customers – Facebook

San Diego Gas & Electric knows that it has a wide variety of both English and Spanish speakers in its customer segments. Because of this, the utility is quick to post important safety messages in both languages, like this message on signing up for outage alerts.

Example of outage communications on social media
Example of outage communications on social media

Proactive Emergency Kit Video – YouTube

Help ensure your customers know what to do in case of emergency. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) made a helpful YouTube video showing how one family prepared an emergency kit. For many people, the list of standard emergency kit items may not be enough. Watching a video demonstration may get the point across.

The video also demonstrates an evacuation, reminding viewers that friends and family members outside the emergency area should be a point of contact to relay information whenever possible. Watch the video below:

Storm Safety Tips Video Series – YouTube

Duke Energy created a series of storm safety videos in both English and Spanish for their customers, sharing insights about what to do when there is a downed power line or a damaged meter box. The videos are short, which means customers are more likely to pay attention and watch the full video. A real employee of Duke narrates the video with a reminder, “Don’t worry, help is on the way.” Watch the full video series below:

How to Report an Outage – Twitter

ComEd frequently uses Twitter to share proactive outage communications. In the tweet below, the utility explains how to report an outage or get outage updates, showcasing a quick video to visually show customers how to do these things.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Update – Twitter

ComEd is also quick to use Twitter for real-time outage updates, including thanking customers for their patience. In this tweet, they inform customers that they are continuing to work on restoring power lost from a storm and link over to their outage center for more information.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Alert – Facebook

AEP Ohio quickly took to Facebook when an outage was reported in the city. In addition to alerting customers, the post also provided additional ways for customers to stay involved, including links to their outage map, text alerts and app.

Example of outage communications on social media

Outage Alert – Facebook

In the wake of outages due to a hurricane, Entergy posted this update on Facebook with a real-time picture of the damage. They let customers know that crew members were assessing the damage and will be working to restore power as it is safe to do so. Despite the fact that they were currently unable to give a restoration update, the utility clearly keeps customers updated with information as they can. The post also links to their newsroom site on the website with further updates about the storm restoration process.

Example of outage communications on social media

Use these best practices to develop your outage communications strategy. Learn how Questline Digital can help.

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 Digital 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 Digital 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.

Learn how social media content from Questline Digital can build engagement with your customers.

Infographic shows the history of visual communications

What do you get when you combine masterful design, concise info, creativity and meaningful stats? The all-powerful, brain-delighting, popular infographic — an ideal visual format for social media sharing that is easily consumed by energy utility customers and a great way to explain complex topics.

Infographics are a big part of today’s content marketing landscape. Subscribe to any business or special interest digital newsletter, and you’ll likely see an infographic. These data visualizations tackle nearly all topics in every industry.

Their popularity among readers continues to grow. The competition for digital mindshare is fierce and attention spans are at an all-time low. Studies show the human attention span has, on average, hit 8.25 seconds — shorter than the common goldfish.

Infographics are designed to catch your eye. Many of them do. But to keep that attention, they must clearly and creatively convey key information.

Before we dive into what makes today’s infographics popular, let’s look at where it all started. The very first infographics were, more than likely, found in early human dwellings. You guessed it — we’re talking about cave drawings. Design experts believe the earliest examples of the art form can be found on prehistoric cave walls from 30,000 years ago, when early humans painted scenes featuring animals, nature, family life and more.

Ancient Egyptians’ well-known hieroglyphics, which visually depict stories of religion, daily life and work, are considered by many to be early forms of infographics. The later, more sophisticated Egyptian hieroglyphics combined a visual alphabet that formed word pictures — artful, visual communications that have stood the test of time.

As we fast forward to the 1700s, infographics are discovered in the forms of charts, graphs and even maps. Many of those look a bit like basic infographics of today. In this era, we see typography beginning to take on a central role in design.

In the 1750s, William Playfair, a Scottish inventor and engineer, is reported to have invented and published charts that included line graphics, pie charts, graphs and other forms of basic data visualizations to help people understand economic factors such as taxes, labor and product costs. As Playfair put it, “Data should speak to the eyes because they are the best judge of proportion, being able to estimate it with more quickness and accuracy.”

In an article by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, she explained, “Before Playfair’s time, words and drawings were two distinct ways of communicating that rarely converged. But as the burgeoning Enlightenment gave birth to modern science and the first traces of the Industrial Revolution, economists, engineers and historians found a need for a new language: One that could quantify data visually.”

French lawyer André-Michel Guerry took data visualization further in the 1830s through shading. He darkened areas on a city map where crime or illiteracy rates were higher and, as a result, developed data-driven social science.

Even the mother of modern nursing helped shape modern infographics. Polar area charts, a twist on the everyday pie chart, were invented by English nurse Florence Nightingale and William Farr, England’s premier statistician. They discovered many fatalities from the Crimean War occurred due to poor hygiene. By charting different colors to designate types of fatalities, Parliament and the queen could quickly see how essential hygiene was, prompting them to improve sanitary conditions.

Today’s infographics combine actionable data insights with striking visuals to catch attention and encourage engagement. In fact, people are 30 times more likely to read an infographic than a regular article. Plus, people remember 65% of the information on the pictures they see. As we continue to seek new ways to distill complex information into easy-to-consume stories, infographics will undoubtedly be a driving force in the future of marketing and communications.

Sources: Brain Rules, Branch Collective, Gizmodo, HubSpot, NeoMam, Smithsonian Magazine, Visually.

Connect with your utility’s customers using infographics from Questline Digital’s Content Catalog.