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Social Media Light Shines Bright at Longmont Power and Communication

image credit: City of Longmont

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Freelance Researcher and Writer Final Draft Communications, LLC

In addition to serving as an Energy Central Community Manager, Karen Marcus has nearly 25 years of experience as a content developer within the energy and technology industries. She has worked...

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Communications and Marketing Manager Layra Nicli has only been working for Longmont Power and Communication, in Longmont, Colorado, for eight months, but she’s already had a big impact on the utility’s social media strategy. Nicli, along with Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Scott Rochat, team up to further two main goals: grow their audience and reach more people who speak Spanish as a first language.

Widening the Reach

To broaden viewership, Nicli uses accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. She posts at least three times per week on Facebook and Instagram, and less frequently on the other two. Nicli notes, “We produce videos less often, but we post them on YouTube whenever we can.” A recent testimonial contest brought in dozens of 30-second videos featuring customers talking about why they love Longmont Power and Communication’s broadband service. Other videos recently produced by the utility were on the themes of where energy comes from and cutting the cable cord.

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Nicli uses each platform strategically, depending on how they’re accessed by customers. The Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter accounts are shared with the City of Longmont, while the Facebook account is only for the Power and Communication division. Therefore, Nicli uses the Facebook account to post information about electric outages, or issues with the power or the broadband service. Facebook is also where most customers feel comfortable posting comments about their service, or problems they need resolved.

“We get messages all the time, especially when there’s an outage,” says Nicli. “But also from people wanting to check their internet speeds, follow up on previous service requests, or talk about the great service they received from a particular field rep.”

Meanwhile, “Instagram is more about showing our personality. We’ll post GIFs and videos, and images of our people in the field. Cute puppy photos always get lots of likes.” Twitter gets used more for promotional messages from the city as a whole, including a referral program, and the utility’s energy saving store.

Including the Whole Community

Because 30 percent of Longmont’s population is Spanish-speaking, Nicli has made them “front and center” in her plans. A fluent Spanish speaker herself, she ensures all messages are posted in both English and Spanish, and includes some posts, targeted to the Spanish-speaking community, in Spanish only. Nicli notes that she’s gotten “some good engagement” from this program so far, and has high expectations for ensuring all community members continue to feel included in the utility’s outreach.

Social Media Successes

Nicli has found out what works best in social media by trial and error. One thing she discovered when she first took her position is the fact that Longmont residents love that they have their own broadband service while neighboring Boulder doesn’t. “They love to show that off,” says Nicli, “so any time we post something that highlights that fact, we get a lot of interaction.” Other types of posts that get substantial attention include photos of Nicli and her coworkers, including field workers and their equipment. On the other hand, anything “too wordy” doesn’t get much interest.

The utility’s social media activities are used in combination with a print newsletter, utility bill ads, and print media ads. For example, the “cut the cord” campaign uses social media, print media, and newsletters to get the message out about why customers should consider cancelling cable services. 

Moving forward, Nicli plans to continue highlighting the utility’s staff, particularly the linemen and crews who do such a good job for the community. She comments, “I want to emphasize that we’re not a big electric utility. It’s just a small number of us, and we’re your neighbors and friends.”

Given all this success, Nicli is in a position to share tips with other utility marketing professionals. She reflects, “The two most important things to consider when using social media are graphics and spellcheck.” In addition, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it works, great. If not, try something else; you haven’t lost anything.”

How have your utility’s social media experiences been the same as or different from those of Longmont Power and Communication? Please share in the comments.

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