[Marketing Memo] What Bangor Hydro Just Did On Twitter - And Why You Should Care
By Cary Weston
At 9:30pm Sunday night, Susan Faloon was in her car headed for the office in order to get to a computer that worked.
Because her home was without power.
Kind of an ironic twist for the Communications Officer of Bangor Hydro.
"I needed to get in front of the internal information so I could keep our customers informed of the outage," states Faloon. "Customers appreciate knowing what's going on and the more information I can share with them, the better. I can usually do that from my home but when the power is out, I do that from the office."
And the tool she leans on to do that quickly is Twitter.
What started as a basic question by a Twitter user asking if anyone else had lost their power in the Queen City, quickly morphed into an interactive tweet fest that attracted folks from all corners of the city, representatives from various media, and Bangor Hydro themselves. The story became the lead headline in today's local online newspaper as well as a lead story for the morning television and radio news.
And as I watched from the comfort of my living room recliner, I was absolutely amazed as the speed to which I witnessed transparency, customer service, and information sharing via my iPad.
The result of the initial tweet is that folks were kept abreast of the power outage restoration efforts and the media got the information they needed within minutes to inform the rest of the world.
All important components to the public relations strategy.
But to me, the real benefit of the digital interaction, the social media ROI if you will, came from a single sentence posted in the comment section of the Bangor Daily News website:
The comment is honest, unsolicited, and people will read it. It made a positive impression on me and I'm sure many others. And while yes, that's just a single comment, it's relevant and important.
Bangor Hydro spends money on advertising for a product you don't have a choice in.
And why do they do that? To build positive public relations. To build a brand you feel good about.
Bottom line - to build trust and enhance relationships.
"We're in the relationship business and the better we can communicate, the better our customer relationships are," said Faloon. "Our customers want to know what's going on and Twitter is a great tool for two way conversations. It's a no brainer for us."
Because whether you're selling flowers, dog shampoo, or tarps in a competitive marketplace or providing electricity in a heavily regulated environment, two way conversations with customers proves to be productive and profitable.
But if you're thinking you don't have time or money to focus on social media, or that your customers aren't using social media, let me share these facts with you.
In the last 4 months, I've ordered flowers via text message from a neighborhood florist and pizza from an online ordering tool.
In my business, we've hired two new employees using only Twitter and Facebook and found two new billable clients through a conversation on Linked In and Twitter.
It's changing the way people communicate, conduct business, find jobs, and buy things you sell. Social media is a powerful tool for small business and one that you should be embracing.
So my Monday morning challenge to you is this:
You don't need to be a large company to realize the power of social media. If connections, relationships, and communications with customers are important to the lifeline of your business, then explore social media and find a way to embrace it.
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