Can social media help utility efficiency?

Research carried out for AquaFed shows utilities could experience positive operational benefits from using social media channels to communicate with users and customers, but further study is needed.

The initial results show almost half of those surveyed feel that social media would be a good place to share and receive news about water issues eg service disruptions, water quality and hazards like floods.

However, there is less appetite for direct, two-way engagement and communication from respondents with their water provider and public authorities.

Only about 30% of respondents would join a social media group (e.g., Facebook) to receive information about water issues and/or use an app on their phone that contains information about these issues.

And only 25% of respondents would like to receive updated information from their water provider via social media - but 35% of them would use social media to inform the water provider about water system/supply issues.

AquaFed is calling on users and providers of water and sanitation services to answer a short survey, so that the independent researchers from the European Junior Water Programme can build a more detailed picture of how utilities can optimise the use of social media.

Neil Dhot, Executive Director, AquaFed said: “The initial results are interesting because they did not show as much willingness among users to engage with their utility on social media as we expected.

“This suggests a nuanced approach from utilities and service providers aiming to use social media to support customer services and provide a more efficient service.

“We still believe that social media can be a way of improving service and being in touch with users. However, we need more research, particularly on the tools and channels that could be most effective. We urge as many people as possible to complete the survey and let us know what you think.”

For more information please contact Neil Dhot: neil.dhot@aquafed.org

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