As social media and trends in technology grow, so do their uses for organizations to communicate with customers. For Ike Pigott, an Alabama Power media representative, a Twitter account lets him do things an ordinary press release can’t.
“Just because these are new tools and because young people tend to gravitate toward them does not make them toys,” said Pigott. “Each network that you come across has its own particular quirks, culture and capabilities. You have to look at each of them so you can determine how to use it as a communication vehicle.”
During the deadly tornado outbreak of April 2011, Alabama was vastly affected, with more than 400,000 customers without power. In the aftermath, Pigott took to social media to help inform and interact with customers in their time of need.
“What we did during that outbreak was show that you could marry traditional communication strategy with social networks to be able to do things that you hadn’t been able to do as easily as before. With regards to expectations management and communicating with customers, you bring them into the effort to communicate the recovery that’s on the way,” said Pigott.
These remarks were part of Pigott’s presentation “How social media serves strategy when disaster strikes,” at the 2015 Y’all Connect Conference presented by Alabama Power.
“Crisis management communications is crucial,” said Pigott. “When you lose your power, you’re affected in a major way. It disrupts your life. Just a power outage for you affects your ability to do things that you need to do, like prepare meals.”
Pigott shared tips including how visuals can provide warning to customers. He displayed images of affected areas around the state, showing customers the severity of the storms, as well as sharing images of linemen working to restore power.
“It’s important you communicate the ‘Why.’ It’s one thing to say your power is going to be out for three days. But if we do a good job at communicating the ‘Why’ and showing you pictures and the extent of the damage, it’s a lot easier to take,” said Pigott.
His presentation stressed the importance of engaging one’s audience. Companies are on social media to promote and deliver the appropriate content to various audiences. It’s OK to ask for shares and retweets on social media, Pigott said, because the goal is for people to share your message along their personal networks.
Pigott noted the importance of listening to one’s audience and following the best platform for content. “Listening and realizing that over time, as customers become more social media savvy, and the social media networks tweak and change their rules and the way things get done – every change they make in the interface changes the way people use the network. Ultimately, when our customers change the way they use networks, we have to be listening to those changes so we can adapt to their behavior.”