Social media implications, at the recent Illinois Rural Water Conference, was listed as one of the many challenges utilities currently face and will continue to face over the next 10 years.

An MIT study concluded that falsehoods are 70% more likely to be shared with others and that the truth takes 6 times as long as a falsehood to reach 1500 people. The reality is that all utilities, regardless of size, have to contend with the implications of social media on their reputation and image. Social media can be a friend or a foe depending on how the utility deals with the social media challenge. Larger utilities have full time trained communications personnel to monitor and respond to posts. Smaller utilities do not have the personnel or resources to formally monitor social media full time, but they can monitor them in the daily flow of work and use these communication platforms to promote their utility. Gaining the ratepayers support and confidence prior to a negative comment will lessen any negative impact of a negative post. Ratepayer education can return rewards to the utility as support of rate hikes, capital improvement projects and improvements to name a few.

Posting of information on social media that educates the ratepayer can start with facts such as how many miles of pipe has to be maintained, the purpose of flushing, treatment process, how many fire hydrants are in the system to protect property or cost of production. As the education campaign is started, educate the ratepayer about how the utility is governed with policies such as water loss forgiveness if applicable or other programs and services the utility offers such as ServLine water loss protection.

Dealing with social media has to start somewhere and it is best to start before having to deal with the negativity of the ratepayer base. Small steps of education can lead to rewards for the utility. The ServLine Protection Plan by HomeServe helps educate homeowners . The program is backed by two “A” rated insurance companies and will insure your utility against customer water loss, paying customers’ overages while also offering them a repair solution. ServLine also will hand all leak-related calls, claims and questions, reducing your office staff’s workload.

The ServLine Protection Plan by HomeServe partners with municipalities to educate homeowners and offer affordable protection against potentially costly service line leaks. For more information, contact usContact Us.