Social media has evolved significantly since Facebook debuted 10 years ago. The company’s initial target audience — Harvard college students — has expanded to include everyone from Great-Grandma Kathy to little cousin Kaitlyn. And brands. Lots and lots of companies and brands and organizations. Everyone wants in on the action. Even utilities.
Today, social media is a way for public works departments and utilities to speak to customers, extend public education efforts, and provide ongoing updates for flooding, water main breaks or pipeline rehab work that might affect traffic.
Here, we highlight 10 utilities that you should keep your eye on. If your utility is not on Facebook, check out what these entities are doing. And if you’ve already dipped your toes into the social media waters, well, maybe you’ll find some more ideas here. We’re all in this together. Let’s learn from each other and discover how social media can work for the water and wastewater industry.
Expect a lot of tongue-and-cheek humor and obscure wastewater-related news items from this utility. What can we say, these guys make wastewater fun, and in the process, they’re showing their audience that infrastructure is, perhaps, interesting. Also, make sure you flag the district’s blog. It’s a great way to start the morning, and we promise you’ll be inspired.
This utility recently made mainstream national headlines for its lighthearted marketing campaign that went viral. Take a look at how people interacted with the utility (Instagram, anyone?), and then take a few pointers from the conversational tone of the posts. A good example of why it’s called “social” media.
What we love about this utility are the behind-the-scenes photos. What? Seven water main breaks during the polar vortex? Well, here, take a look at what the crews were doing to fix them. Madison does a great job of showing the men and women behind the infrastructure.
Louisville Pure Tap is a great example of product marketing. The utility, which has turned water into a brand, frequently reminds customers to use tap water. They do a fantastic job of newsjacking, taking trending events and stories and using them for marketing purposes. Plus, they supply customers with lots and lots of cool water facts.
Want a good example of customer communication in a crisis? Check out how Avon Lake handled a winter event when they experienced icing at the plant’s water intakes. Great communication, behind-the-scenes photos, and immediate response to questions from concerned residents made this utility a social media star.
Along with frequent customer service updates, including boil water alerts and acknowledgements of overloaded call lines, we like how this utility incorporates community, highlighting other government partners, like the fire department, along with region-specific news.
Props go to this utility for some good use of cover photos. Did you know you can use this Facebook position to communicate seasonal messages? Try pulling together a water message about drought or frozen pipe tips, for example.
8. NYC Water
History buffs will like this one: NYC Water frequently features “Out of the Archives” on its page. Watch for some great historical pictures of the city and its infrastructure. We especially liked those old black-and-white tunnel shots of the Delaware Aqueduct.
9. DC Water
You’ll find all sorts of fun stuff on the DC Water page, from news stories about Lady Bird, the tunnel boring machine working on the Blue Plains Tunnel, to updates on the Green Infrastructure Plan. DC Water also features “Throwback Thursday,” which includes historical photos from the DC area.
10. Santa Rosa Water
Take note of how Santa Rosa is communicating California’s drought emergency through images, articles and tips. And yes, you can have a sense of humor during serious situations (sometimes!).