American Gas - May 2010 - (Page 23)

To Be The BesT Great Ideas | solutIons Take Time to Tweet Social media can help utilities forge closer relationships with both customers and reporters. The power of TwiTTer has become evident in its rapid growth and popularity, not to mention that it’s keeping Ashton Kutcher’s name in the spotlight. Kutcher followed a bad idea—starring in “Dude, where’s My Car?”—with a good one— having the first Twitter account to reach 1 million followers—and is now considered a pioneer of social media. several employees started taking Twitter “shifts,” and we used the application Tweet Deck to help organize the flood of tweets and direct incoming messages. (if you are new to Twitter, using something like Tweet Deck is essential; we have now switched to Hootsuite.) The volume grew so much that i made one employee the primary “tweeter,” and another employee served as the backup and after-hours tweeter. At the height of the situation, with tweet volumes extremely high, the two employees split the duties, with one responding to direct messages only. On a couple of occasions, we got The business world also has embraced the medium since Twitter seems to lend itself more to business communications than some other social media vehicles. The utility industry often lags other industries in its adoption of the “latest and greatest” technology and communications applications, but by taking a leap into the unknown, utilities can reap unexpected benefits. At memphis Light, Gas and Water (mLGW), we started our Twitter account in 2008 with little fanfare and, honestly, without a comprehensive plan for how we’d use it. We knew the media had begun to use Twitter as a means of communicating breaking news, weather updates and more. Our initial idea was to use Twitter to pitch stories to reporters and perhaps to deliver occasional updates to customers about outages, street closures due to mLGW construction, etc. Storm Unleashes a Torrent of Communications By June 2009, we had about 220 followers, and we had begun to pick up the pace of our Twitter communications. Then, on June 12, we had a storm that would forever change the way our department communicates. A strong storm, coupled with a tornado, knocked out power to about 140,000 customers in the memphis area. That represented about one-third of our customer base. We were in full-blown crisis mode. We decided to incorporate Twitter into our outage communications. The response was overwhelming and almost unanimously positive. During the oneweek restoration period, our number of followers soared from 220 to more than 1,500. in today’s technological world, many people can access Twitter from their cell phone, Blackberry or iPhone, so adding this medium gave customers a new way to communicate with us and get information quickly. a message from Twitter that we had exceeded our tweet limit for that day! i never knew such a thing existed! Does Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter account get frozen like that? However, that shows you that this was most definitely a customer-driven communications tool. We threw our Twitter communications out there, and our customers responded. GLEN THOMAS is supervisor, communications and public relations at Memphis Light, Gas and Water. You can follow MLGW at AmericAn GAs may 2010 23

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Gas - May 2010

American Gas - May 2010
President’s Message
In the Know
Industry News
To Be the Best
Tech Talk
Priority No. 1: Safety
A Return to Firm Financial Footing
Places to Be
Advertisers’ Index
Facts on Gas

American Gas - May 2010