Social media are already playing an increasingly large role in companies’ marketing and communications strategies and activities, and the use of social media is going to surge as utilities become increasingly customer, and demand-side, oriented with the migration to smart grids, according to a Pike Research white paper.

Pike estimates that some 57 million customers worldwide will use social media to communicate with utilities in 2011, a number that’s going to surge higher, to 624 million, by the end of 2017.

Believing that utilities that actively invest in and develop social media networks and associated business and communications strategies that make use of them, Pike conducted an online survey of 1,000 US utility customers in the fall of 2011 “using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample.”

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A short list of some of the benefits utilities can garner by employing social networking and media services to communicate with customers includes:

  • Informing customers about changes to pricing and billing
  • Educating customers and keeping them informed about new products and services
  • Addressing questions and allowing for a “virtual” conversation with customers
  • Reaching certain demographic groups

“While some utilities have already seized the opportunity social media offers, others remain on the sidelines,” Pike notes. Nonetheless, according to Pike’s press release, “As social networking and media become more pervasive, utilities and other companies will look to invest in and grow their presence in this area.”

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