Last October, the east coast was hit with a Category 4 hurricane named Michael and Guilford County where I live was right in its path. We experienced flash flooding, down trees, and a few tornadoes from this disastrous storm. Check out the photos.
Duke Energy, our power provider, was actively engaged on social during the entire experience. I happened to catch one of the exchanges on their Facebook page. They posted around 9:30 on October 11 the day after the storm a status update on how many residents had been restored (180K), how many remained without power (490k) and how many workers were in the field assisting with damage and restoration efforts (6K). As the day progressed, Duke energy was very responsive to every post that needed a response. For some responses they were pre-formatted responses, but others were very personal with a name, general update and a link or phone number for updates. They never lost their cool and stayed positive through a very trying time for people..it’s never fun to lose your power!
Duke Energy was effective at social listening, but I dug deeper to see if they had a social media governance. On their public social media page I was able to locate an overview about links to third-party sites, community guidelines, and their social media policy.
- Deep diving into Duke Energy’s Social Media Policy I found that it primarily outlined what was expected of internal employees when they used both the internal and external social platforms. Here are a few key findings.
- They did block social media unless needed for a specific reason – makes sense, since they are a highly regulated industry and theoretically controlling what people can access on business property allows for some governance (guessing they don’t control their personal phone access, though.)
- Employees must make clear they’re posting a personal opinion about Duke Energy –they even provide copy for someone to post on their site- easy enough to add.
- Duke Energy states that if an employee is responding to criticism it’s best to be factual and professional – I think this would go without saying, but clearly stating this makes people remember to follow a general guideline.
- They have a specific section for Managers and Executives expecting a higher level of professionalism on what they post as it could be misconstrued as the Company posting on the issue
- They did outline Brand Standards on their internal portal – there was nothing in this policy to give any guidance to employee’s, which again highly regulated industry I could see them not wanting this to be public knowlege.
- They provided a point of contact for further guidance on social; Corporate Communications – but no email or phone, so I guess you have to just know who this is? A generic email box could work here or better clarity on how to find Corporate Communications, maybe link to a contact page on the internal portal to prevent public access would be better than a general department name.
- They provided additional documents for specific areas of interest, I found it insightful that they also had a Social Media FAQ page, unfortunately it was on the portal.
Their social media policy, was concise and easy to read, it mostly focused on what you can and cannot post in regard to company information on social media. I did find it interesting that they had a specific section for managers and executives, as we’ve found in a few of our class activities calling out these specifically can add clarity to upper management reminding them that they too have a standard to uphold on social. I wish I could have dug a little deeper on their brand voice, as I was very impressed with the way they handled themselves in a crisis never wavering from being positive and clear in their message.
I think social listening in a crisis is critical for any company, but I think for power companies in major disasters it becomes even more important to keep their customers updated in a timely manner and provide them with tools to help manage local updates. In my experience with Duke Energy they have certainly embraced the new world of digital; not only in social but also in their call center, websites and mobile. – You can now send an outage report via text, that’s pretty cool in my book.