By Gus Wagner
There are a lot of fingers being pointed at social media these days, be it from our elected officials, activist groups, or general users in the community who find something to disagree with. Loud and fringe voices have always caught attention from the media. The fringe voices have taken over certain segments of Facebook and Twitter as well as smaller platforms like Parler.
Where does that leave you as a nonprofit utility? You still need to stick with social media.
Of course, full disclosure, running social for utilities is a huge part of what we do.
While we have a vested interest in encouraging utilities to be active on social media, we have an even bigger interest in making sure they are successful in that space.
Social media is the most powerful, most manageable and most budget-friendly form of communication that you have with the folks in your service area. Here are some of our recommendations for navigating today’s turbulent waters of social media:
1. Post where your people are — on Facebook.
Facebook has largely been above the fray of recent days, but it is in the crosshairs of Congress. Several legislators have called for removal of the company’s protections regarding the content that people post on their platforms. At this point that seems like a long shot to me, so Facebook will likely continue to garner the most eyeballs. People still average 38 minutes per day on Facebook. Your members are there for you to listen to, communicate with and market to.
2. Skip Twitter.
Twitter is the social media platform that has devolved into the largest hot mess. We’ve always held the position that utilities do not generally have a place on Twitter. The biggest reason is that your audiences are most likely not there in any great numbers. Secondarily, Twitter is loaded with people hiding behind fake names and profile photos. When you are posting or advertising on Twitter, your content has a better chance of being surrounded by derogatory content than it does on Facebook.
3. Do not feed the trolls.
Trolls are the people who may comment or post derogatory thoughts on everything under the sun. Do not engage these trolls. Do not respond to these trolls. Simply hide their content. Note that hiding is not the same as deleting. Hiding their post or comment means others cannot see or engage with the troll’s post.
4. Listen, then post.
What do the people at the end of your lines really want to hear about? It may or may not be what you want to talk about. That’s why we recommend posting things like your safety or billing options content with relevant local content. What’s the good news in your community? How can you support local businesses on social media? How can you recognize folks in the community and within your utility who are doing great things?
We’re Ready for Social Shifts
In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen changes and upheaval in the social media world. At ARC, Pioneer and WordSouth, as your trusted communication professionals we are actively watching, preparing for and responding to:
- Potential changes to terms and conditions of social media platforms.
- Potential changes to how paid advertising works, specifically on Facebook.
- The emergence of new social media platforms.
- Potential changes to laws governing social media platforms.
- Shifts in adoption and usage of specific platforms by your utility’s consumers.
We look forward to continuing to serve our friends around the industry with social media support and content, no matter how the platforms and audience shift.