iGo2 examined the Social conversations occurring from 1st August to 14th August as it related to four Australian Utility Providers namely:

  1. Origin Energy
  2. Integral Energy
  3. Energy Australia
  4. AGL

The analysis below depicts the relevant conversations over that 14 day period:

As any Social Media Consultant worth their ‘pinch of salt’ will tell you clearly there is NO ROI for Social Media within Australian Utilities. Social Media needs to be viewed  the same as a TV Channel or a Newspaper – its a medium. Its wrong to ask ‘What is the ROI of Social Media?’ just as its wrong to ask ‘What is the ROI of TV?’. Who knows? Whether it is Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, Google+ or who knows what next…..it just isn’t important! The sooner Australian corporations understand that the important question is ‘What is the ROI of my initiative XXXX in Social Media?’  rather than the ROI of Social Media itself, the better off we’ll all be.

Just like television where business gets ROI from reaching audiences and aligning their brand to areas of mutual benefit (e.g. Masterchef, Renovators, Cricket and Rugby). So business must develop their Social Strategy and Tactics to address  areas that provide business value and ultimately better outcomes for their customers, partners or citizens.

Social Media allows Businesses and Governments to have an unfiltered engagement (listening and/or participating) with REAL people. We extracted the last four tweets that occurred and they just happen to mention each company we analyzed. You tell me if you were an executive at one of these companies – would you like to be listening to these conversations?

Further to that we analyzed each companies Share of Voice below. I must say we briefly reviewed each companies strategy in Social Business and outside of AGL efforts related to recruitment we couldn’t identify any strategy that Social Media was enabling for them.i.e there was no evidence of a clear social business strategy.

The sentiment comparison showed an overview of the sentiment associated to each company.

Finally we looked the demographics of who was talking about these brands.

So what would we do if we were looking to identify potential  ROI in social business initiatives for one of these utilities?  We’d advise a four step process.

  1. Start to listen to the conversations that are occurring right now about you, your competitors, your customers, and your industry. Identify real people: where they are, who they are, and how/why they are communicating.
  2. Take a deep look at your company across the following areas to identify where Social provides a SMARTER way of doing business:
    • Crisis Management
    • Reputation Management
    • Project Monitoring
    • Improvements in customer service
    • Competitor intelligence
    • Partner intelligence
    • Product and service development / Innovation
    • Target marketing
    • Grow revenue
    • Deflect costs
    • Improve Customer Loyalty
    • Policy or initiative review
    • Corporate social responsibility / charity
  3. Develop your strategy, tactics and measurements through incorporating what you have assessed during the listening step. Practice S.M.A.R.T., Responsible and Integrated Social Media.
  4. Involve your customers early into your plan, be honest, be transparent, be clear on your objectives for them, and be interesting. Remember no one wants a social relationship with a brand. Our customers want the advantages that the social relationship with the brand will provide them in terms of better services, involvement in product development, cheaper services, better value, more convenience….

The frustration we/iGo2 see by executives in the Australian market place with Social is clear and understandable. This frustration will continue to exist until such time as we can step away from the channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Google+ … and the myriad of others) and view social as a television. But an interactive television where we can see right through to who we are broadcasting to, what they stand for, who they like, who they listen to, what they are talking about, … and through Social provide them the opportunity to talk back to you. Not through a ratings agency, not through a media monitor, nor a survey; NO – a direct unfiltered channel to your customers.