Before the Hawaiian Electric Companies sent their first tweet, they made earning trust a priority.
We didn’t start a Twitter or Facebook account until we got everyone’s buy-in on the idea that social media responses had to be quick.
“We didn’t start a Twitter or Facebook account until we got everyone’s buy-in on the idea that social media responses had to be quick,” says the brand’s Director of Digital Experience and Social Media, Donna Mun.
Before launch, she worked with customer service, system operations, legal, and corporate communications to make sure everyone understood the urgency and stood up processes necessary to ensure this would happen.
After launch, she focused on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ community efforts and sharing how their employees were involved. “We wanted to earn trust among the social media communities before we pushed our corporate messaging,” she says.
Just months later, Tropical Storm Iselle devastated the Big Island of Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies launched their social media presences in February and March of 2014, and in August, Tropical Storm Iselle hit. It was the strongest tropical storm to make landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii in recorded history, and it caused widespread power outages.
This was a critical time for Donna’s team to share crisis information about power restoration fast.
“People think that if the power’s out, people won’t go online, but many customers were connected with a mobile phone. They would turn on their phone to check our social pages for a response and then turn it back off,” she says.
During the crisis, the Hawaiian Electric Companies weren’t just sharing corporate messaging, they were listening to their customers.
Donna’s team gathered customer feedback about areas of need and shared that with their corporate communications team to inform their news releases and media. Their social listening efforts eventually led to Hawaii Electric Light creating a community center where people could come get information in the areas that were heavily affected by the storm.
But social media at the Hawaiian Electric Companies is about more than just crisis communication.
They also care about proactive engagement and messaging to get people interested in energy efficiency and sustainability. And they do it through their social presences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.
“People ask, ‘What is an energy company doing on Pinterest?'” Donna says. “We want to use and leverage the channels where a lot of our customers are.”
But, she says, it’s also important to test the waters and make sure you have the resources to sustain a new channel before jumping in. “We’re being smarter about what new channels we add because there’s not an easy transition to say you’re stopping.”
This year, they’re focused on engaging new employees in social. They’ve worked with HR to include social media training and guidelines with their onboarding process.
Donna’s been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2013. Follow Donna on Twitter.