There is no doubt about it that electricity companies can do more to engage with their audience.

The Big Six electricity companies are out of touch. Each and every one of them does little, if anything, to engage with their audience past ask for a bill payment. In this article we would like to look at how they interact with their customers and, more importantly, how they could do it better.

So who are the Big Six? The Big Six are the six biggest electricity suppliers in the UK. These comprise of British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, npower, Scottish Power, and SSE. Between them they serve over 57.3 million customers across the United Kingdom, and yet this is far from represented by their public appearance or websites.

The first thing to note about the Big Six is that none of them have the option to subscribe to an email mailing list on their pages. Instead they send emails once someone becomes a customer, focusing on one specific subset of the market. A simple mailing list and email campaign could help encourage customers to switch energy supplier. It is easy to see why they have chosen to focus on their customers, however by doing so they are missing out on a large part of the market by ignoring those who have not converted. An email campaign about how money can be saved, rather than just delivering bills could work wonders.

This lack of competition shows on their websites and SEO as well. When typing in the terms, keywords surrounding the utility industry (and variations there of) the Big Six rarely show up within the top 10 search results. Npower is the only one that does on the term “electricity supplier”, something which is surprising to say the least. Instead, when searching such terms, price comparison sites always come first. Needless to say that this is far from ideal.

Supplier

Number of UK Customers

Total Twitter Followers

Percentage of Followers/Customers

British Gas

20 million

53683

0.26%

EDF Energy

5.7 million

38453

0.67%

E.ON UK

5.3 million

33600

0.63%

npower

6.5 million

28045

0.43%

Scottish Power

5.2 million

16900

0.33%

SSE

9.6 million

22565

0.24%

As it can be seen by the above table, the main energy suppliers are also lacking in the Social Media department. The top four on the list (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, and npower) can all be commended for their Social Media customer service channels – channels designed purely to offer customer service. The downside is that none of these are all that effective. As it can be seen, percentage of followers to customers is no where in line. Instead none of the energy companies have more than 0.67% following them online. This is a remarkably low number for companies and corporations who serve so many customers.

To take an example of this – BT have only 4.6 million accounts in the UK and yet they have 79900 followers. This is 1.7% and significantly better than the electrical companies. The question thus becomes: why?

In order to explore why the electrical brands struggle in comparison to other industries it is best to look at their engagement. Naturally enough we cannot see their click-through rates for email, however what we can look at is the number of interactions they get on Social Media. To do this we can look at Twitter and track the past ten tweets. For this we will use British Gas, the largest of the companies.

Tweet

Retweets

Favourites

Would you wear clothing that could power your gadgets? Thanks to scientists in South Korea, now you can: http://po.st/GadgetPoweringClothes#smarttech

1

1

16 easy #energysaving hacks to help you cut back on costs and consumption at home: http://po.st/EnergySavingHacks

4

0

Pets moulting in the warm weather? Run a damp rubber glove over your upholstery to gather pet hair quickly #hometip

3

5

Looking for home inspiration? Feast your eyes on our Ideal Home Show roundup: http://po.st/IdealHomeInspiration#IHSS15

5

26

From water-producing billboards to pop-up parks, check out these 10 quirky ways to make our cities more #sustainable: http://po.st/SustainableCity 

2

3

Long list of home improvement jobs? Follow our quick-fix home hacks this Bank Holiday weekend http://po.st/BankHolHomeHacks …

44

93

An A+ rated oven uses less energy than a B-rated one, but do you know how much? #FridayFact

1

0

Up to 25% of heat is lost through the roof of an uninsulated home! Save money on your bill by installing loft insulation #energysaving

5

1

Click here for 6 simple steps to saving water at #homehttp://po.st/6WaterTips 

2

1

Hate housework? Check out these unconventional cleaning hacks that'll make chores a doddle: http://po.st/HouseworkHacks #hometip

3

3

Total

70

133

As it can be seen, British Gas struggle to interact with their audience. Having as few as two to five interactions for most posts when they have a total of 53683 followers is not good.

So what does this mean for utilities companies? Why do they find it so hard to interact with their public? The answer is remarkably simple and it is all down to bad publicity and marketing that is not up for supporting a positive image.

The Big Six may sound like a super villain group, and there is a reason for that. The Big Six electrical companies do not have a good reputation for saving their clients money, to the point where politics has often had to get involved.

Ultimately, this is what needs to change. The external view of how people see the companies needs to change, and this can be done through clever marketing.

The harsh reality is that, for the Big Six, it is not a quick fix. Some have tried breaking away already but haven't managed it and infact encountered various difficulties. Start a social campaign that drives interaction, start an email campaign, and turn around what the customers believe. This is the utility company call to action.

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