Social media is a key component of a multichannel marketing approach for utility companies, a new study has indicated.
Research from the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that around two in every three European utilities use social media as part of their business plans or are looking to do so in the near future.
Findings also showed that further expansion in the social media space is one of the top three customer experience investment priorities being considered by European utility providers over the next few months.
IDC research found that energy retailers believe driving their presence across communication channels is the most vital factor in attaining an improved customer experience.
The group also identified that utilities are mainly using social media as a “one-way” communication channel, with social networks being utilised for basic practices such as gathering metrics and building brand awareness.
It appears that value-generating uses of social networks are in the pipeline for many companies, which are looking to use the platforms for activities such as customer feedback, idea generation and formal social marketing plans.
Although 67 per cent of European utilities admit using social networks to manage relationships with customers and prospects, just 53 per cent use them to handle questions or complaints through the channel.
Jean-François Segalotto, senior research analyst, IDC Energy Insights, said: “Utilities are still mostly using the larger social media space as a one-way communication channel, while social networks serve relatively basic purposes such as gathering simple metrics, building brand awareness, and non-systematic handling of inquiries.”
The situation is different in the US, where many utility companies are still operating in non-competitive markets. Over two-thirds of these companies do not consider adopting social enterprise projects or remain at the research phase.
With regard to social network data for reputation management, just one in five European energy suppliers monitor external social networks and carry out social sentiment analysis, suggesting that many businesses are not maximising the benefits of the platforms.
Posted by Jon Aspinell on 27th November 2014
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