With 32,000 members, the Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) is the second largest utility in the state, and the largest electric cooperative. Although its members increasingly rely on social media for news and updates, the Coop did not have the staff or budget to make the most of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Posts were often intermittent, spiking during a power outage or major storm, then tapering off as staff went back to their full time duties.
As part of a larger digital marketing plan, Direct Design offered to research key topics and provide a series of relevant posts to be used during “quiet” weeks. Energy Efficiency, Safety, Emergency Planning and SmartHub usage were all interest areas for members, and there was a wealth of information available from staff and national Electric Cooperative resources. A month’s worth of posts worked nicely to engage with members. Social media became a go-to source for helpful tips on rural life and how to save money on electric bills.
In the first six months of 2015, VEC increased Facebook likers 9% and gained 28% more Twitter followers. With 4.4% of members liking them on Facebook, they have the strongest Social Media engagement effort among Vermont electric coops. Among all Vermont electric utilities, they are second only to Burlington Electric for social media engagement, which has 7% likers. They surpassed Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest electric utility. With 265,00 customers, GMP has 3.7% Facebook likers. Internally, the VEC Member Services staff also reported less job stress, knowing they can reach out to members regularly, not only during emergencies.