Social media can often be the first place consumers turn to express frustration and air complaints, and prolonged power outages are no exception. Some tips to handle and mitigate these reactions via social media:
Educate and Explain
Social media is a great channel for explaining the restoration process to consumer-members because posts can be done quickly or on-the-go. If you can, go beyond a text-only update: Use photos, graphics and videos.
• Try filming a lineworker, manager or even your CEO explaining the restoration process or task at hand for a video post.
• Consider offering a daily video update if it's within your means.
• Take it a step further than the generic photos of bucket trucks and crews. Try posting pictures of specific types of damage/problems that may be causing delays, and explain why.
• Use Facebook or Instagram "story" features to show live updates on the ground (when safe to do so, of course).
• Post links to relevant news articles or information about safety and restoration.
Avoid vague language if possible. Focus on what crews actually need to do, and give specifics, like how long it may take them to repair a single pole, why certain areas may be served before others, etc. Use plain English, and remember, people want to know why they don't have power yet.
Give a Timeline or Timely Updates When Appropriate
Timing is everything — try to give real-time updates as often as possible on social media. Even if you are unsure when exactly power will be restored, you can note that timing updates are preliminary or estimations, and make the worst-case scenario clear to ensure reasonable expectations. You can also offer a timeline of what you expect to be done when, or post daily plans for where crews are planning to work and what the goals are for that day. When facing a delay, be proactive about correcting your timeline — don't wait for consumers to complain that they were misled.
Staying silent or refusing to explain will often only make consumers more upset. Respond to questions on social media when you can, and give honest explanations.
Don't Sweat the Negative Comments
Complaints and negative comments are bound to occur, but often, your consumer-members will step in to defend you. Read about more tips for dealing with negative comments.
Please feel free to reach out to NRECA social media editor CoganSchneier@nreca.coop with any questions or concerns.