Pike Research has put out a report on social media and utility companies. In the report, they forecast that approximately 57 million customers worldwide will use social media to engage utilities in 2011, a number that will rise to 624 million customers by the end of 2017. They go on to forecast that Utility spending on social media will increase to $317 million in 2017, from about $195 million in 2011.
“Social media is a tricky play for utilities, as it is for other industries unaccustomed to such a transparent and uncontrolled form of communication with customers,” says senior analyst Neil Strother. “But there are ways to use the new social channels that benefit both the utility and the customer.”
There are definitely a group of utilities that have successfully embraced social media. The way they are doing this is by defining clear objectives, selecting the appropriate technologies for their individual strategies, and integrating social media with existing communication channels instead of having them function separately.
The report lists a number of good questions that it strives to address including:
- What are best practices a utility should use when embracing social media?
- How many customers are expected to use social media to engage their utilities over the next five years?
- How much will utilities spend on social media over the next five years?
- Who are the key players in the social media ecosystem that utilities need to understand?
- What lessons can be learned from case studies of utilities that have used social channels?
The report also offers strategies and best practices for utilities seeking to avoid mistakes and minimize risk. Company profiles are provided for key industry players and market forecasts are included through 2017 for utility spending on social media tools as well as the number of customers using social media to engage with utilities. You can find more information about the report here.