How To: Social Media for Municipal Utilities

Missouri Public Utility AllianceMonday, July 31, 2017   

By Elise Buchheit
For Members of the Missouri Public Utility Alliance
Excellent Guidance for All Public Power Organizations

You have heard the stats. Seven in 10 adults use social media with the vast majority accessing social media sites daily. Social media has even become one of the primary sources of news for many demographics. For municipal utilities, social media can be a channel for disseminating information, communicating value, and increasing customer-owner perception. But setting up and running social media is a daunting task for many utilities.

Whether you are concerned about controlling the message effectively, identifying employees with the skills to operate social media accounts, or finding and creating meaningful content, we have found the tools to help you take the next steps towards successful social media usage.

Social Media Planning
Defining your city or utility’s social media guidelines is a vital first step to establishing a presence on social media. A social site with mixed messages, incorrect information, or infrequent updates will lead to mistrust and criticism. Review the articles below to assist with developing the right policies and creating a content plan:

Training
Utility employees are used to wearing multiple hats. Continuing education can provide the background necessary for bringing your team up to speed on all things social media. In-person training like Public Power’s Customer Connections Conference or online courses through AlisonUdemyCoursera, or eMarketing Institute are great sources for education on graphic design, marketing, social media channels, and public relations. Check out these great, affordable options to increase your social media effectiveness:

Free Design Programs
Before you invest in paid graphics programs to create social media content, explore these great free programs to see if they cover your needs:

  • Paint.net – Graphics editor with advanced tool options with a user-friendly interface, good for all experience levels
  • Gimp – Raster graphics editor with more sophisticated tools, good for experienced users
  • Canva – Online editing program for social media graphics, great for beginners

Free Tools
Creating new graphics for sharing on social media can be intimidating. These free tools help you create a fresh, professional look while being mindful of fair use standards:

Out of the Box Materials
Sharing relevant, helpful information from experts in the industry can enrich your social media sites and help increase engagement. Check out the links below for a bevy of out-of-the-box ready materials, just waiting to be shared:

Sources for Research
When creating your own graphics or planning tips to share with customer-owners, you need to start with solid sources. Look into the sites below for valuable consumer information on avoiding scams, conserving water, reducing energy bills, and more:

Inspiration
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for new ideas, inspiration can be found by looking at the utilities doing it well:

For More Information
Elise Buchheit
Missouri Public Utility Alliance
ebuchheit@mpua.org

 

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