Winter storm provides opportunity to leverage social media

By Zahra Dhanani, Research Associate –

Ah, winter storms. The eternal enemy of snow shovels everywhere.

After a few weeks of false spring that brought with it hopeful sightings of cardinals and dogwood blooms, we woke up Sunday morning to the news that not only was the mercury dropping again over the next several days, but a winter storm was also coming.

Thus, Winter Storm Stella began a deluge of online “tips for surviving the snowpocalypse” articles and whimsical Buzzfeed listicles even as some were rushing to the grocery store to grab milk and bread.

The utilities affected by the storm were not reading articles about adorable snow dogs. Instead, they put their emergency plans into play and stationed crews in their optimum places. Proactive communications and safety messaging were top of mind. Websites featured winter safety and preparation tips along with frequent storm updates sent across various social channels.

Con Edison leveraged media platforms, especially Facebook, during the snowstorm.

Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz speaks about Blizzard Stella in a video aired on Facebook before the storm. Source: Con Edison

Using Facebook Live, Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz discussed the company’s storm response and provided safety tips to more than 8,000 viewers. For those who missed the live broadcast, here’s a short video Con Edison posted afterward.

Con Edison’s work with Facebook Live shows that utilities can go beyond the traditional communications channels during major storms for greater outreach and feedback from customers.

Help us gain more insights into outage communications and customer care by participating in Chartwell surveys. Please contact Zahra Dhanani at for more information about our ongoing surveys.

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