Social media an effective communications resource for outages

Ruchi Solanki, Research Analyst –

As Irma, now downgraded to a tropical storm, brings rain and high winds across the southeast today, many are turning to social media to stay informed.

In the past, customers relied upon conventional news sources like television and radio during major outage events. Today, customers and even news organizations themselves are looking directly to their local utility’s social media pages to keep up-to-the-minute with the latest forecast and restoration information.

Source: Georgia Power

Facebook and Twitter are the top two most-utilized social media channels that utilities actively engage in as a means to interact and provide customer service for customers. In fact, Twitter has been emerging for some time now as an impressive platform for effective communications in the areas of outages and customer service (a member login is required to access this report).

Chartwell analyzed more than 800,000 tweets sent to and from the 150 largest North American electric utilities in 2015 and found that 44% of all incoming customer tweets were related to outage information.

Seattle City Light and DataCapable created a platform called UtiliSocial to help find hidden conversations about utility issues. The utility has used this tool to improve storm planning for field crews during outages and increase customer satisfaction by responding to posts that they normally wouldn’t see. The utility plans to use social media posts in the future to create a better outage map and proactively communicate restoration efforts by field crew to customers.

The growing role of social media in utility outage communications will be a major theme of Chartwell’s Outage Communications Conference, June 6-7 in New Orleans. If you are interested in learning more about how to optimize your utility’s outage communication strategy through social media and problem solve with other leading utilities, you may also join Chartwell’s Outage Communication Leadership Council by emailing Tim Herrick at

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