Social storytelling creates authentic connection with customers

By Ruchi Solanki, Research Analyst –

FORT LAUDERDALE – This year’s Social Media Conference for Utilities took place in sunny Fort Lauderdale. And while I learned that the city has some great beaches (and lizards who like to hang out on the beach at lunchtime, as a group of us found out!), I also learned how utilities effectively use social media to create a compelling narrative. Last year, the conference offered insights into video integration across the social platforms and the struggles with social customer service. This year, there were several key learnings that utilities can take advantage of in the realm of social storytelling.

Ike Pigott, communication strategist at Alabama Power, kicked off the conference with four questions that communicators should think about when posting on social media: who is the audience, what do you want them to know, how do you want them to feel, and what can they do with this information? When you put the story in the proper context, the audience is more likely to connect with the utility. 

Several utilities presented at the conference on how they leveraged social media to create authentic connections with customers through their content. Alfonso Quiroz, Media Relations, and Sidney Alvarez, Media Manager, at Con Edison talked about their efforts to capture stories of Con Edison crews helping restore power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The utility shared best practices on relating to customers through videos on social media. Con Edison approached the storytelling in three ways: focus on the people that make the story, make an emotional connection and get to the heart of the story as it resonates better with the audience, and try to cultivate relationships with the people affected and the crew because it frames the narrative better.

Sabrina Potirala, Senior E-Channels Program Manager at ComEd, presented on crisis communications and how to handle potential viral posts. The utility enhanced its communications strategy by educating employees along with creating a standard process flow chart that addressed common situations. Sabrina gave one of the strongest takeaway from the conference, “The truth is the best story, and timing is everything.”

If you are interested in learning more about how to optimize your utility’s communication and marketing strategies and problem solve with other leading utilities, join Chartwell’s Customer Communication Leadership Council by contacting Tim Herrick at


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