May 25, 2017

WRF Releases Social Media Guidance for Utilities

Project helps answer major strategic questions

Water Research Foundation helps utilities use social media

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has published a suite of deliverables to help water and wastewater utilities utilize social media to engage with their customers.

The project, Social Media for Water Utilities, explores the business case for utilities and board members to invest in and engage their customers through social media. The project offers clear practical guidance on how utilities can integrate social media engagement into their day-to-day operations and provides resources and templates that staff can customize and use at any time.

The project helps utilities answer strategic questions, such as:

  • When and how should utilities restructure staff, policies and budgets to begin using social media?
  • How do utilities best harness social media to alert customers during crisis events?
  • Is it worth it for utilities to expose themselves to this hyperbolic debate, and is there any alternative?

“WRF has been funding projects on best practices for utility communication since the late 1990s,” said Rob Renner, CEO of WRF. “When used effectively, social media provides water and wastewater utilities with another communication tool to ensure customer satisfaction.”

In addition to the executive briefing, which summarizes key findings and best practices, the project produced several additional deliverables:

  • A literature review, which summarizes what has already been discovered about utilities’ use of social media;
  • Getting started FAQ, which answer key questions for utilities and links to helpful resources;
  • Case studies, where eight water, wastewater and combined utilities shared insights about their social media experiences;
  • A social media posting skills checklist, which is a web tool with how-to videos and step-by-step guidance on crafting an effective social media post;
  • Utility benchmarking results, which analyze and compare the social media profiles of 60 small, medium and large U.S. utilities; and
  • The results of a nationwide survey, where 400 adult U.S. Facebook users were asked to share their thoughts on connecting with their water utility on social media.

A webcast was held May 4, previewing the results of the project. The archived version of the Webcast is available for viewing.

The Principal Investigator for the project was Eric Eckl, founder, Water Words That Work LLC.