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Fuel Price Backlash on Twitter
Posted on October 12th 2013
Energy companies often struggle to endear themselves to the public, we all like to be warm, have hot water and to be able to see in our homes, but the energy suppliers like to make us pay through the nose for the privilege. Yesterday, SSE (aka Scottish and Southern Energy) announced a price hike of 8.2% for their gas and electricity services. The backlash has been huge, with a rather enraged public taking to the web to voice their anger. SSE's boss has blamed the government, and everybody's favourite party leader, Ed Milliband has accused the energy firms of being 'predatory'. This one will simmer on for a while. Assuming there is enough gas to keep the hob burning that is. Anyway, in times of huge negativity levels, I always find it interesting to take a look at how the official Twitter account of the organisation in question is handling the 140 character abuse...
SSE are actually doing a pretty good job (on Twitter)!
Often in cases such as this (and especially when large organisations are involved), the target of Twitter's wrath retreats into a bunker and either stays silent, or says very little. I have to give 'props' (whatever they are) to SSE in this case as they are at least being active and responding...
SSE have two articles on their site that they are using to direct angry tweeters towards, one that explains why they have had to put prices up and a blog post from Will Morris that also explains why. The blog is probably quite hard for people to swallow as it is from the MD of SSE who reportedly earns £840,000 a year, but at least they have created some content that aims to inform people of the reasons behind the hike.
A battle on two Twitter fronts
The above account is @YourSSE, which is there to help customers. They also have @SSE, which is their corporate account, and is, as you would expect receiving similar levels of angry tweets and demands for answers. I actually question the need for two accounts in this case (they also manage further energy suppliers such as Scottish Hydro), but that's another blog post for another day. The @SSE account is also responding with links to the articles, it is good to see that they have decided to respond across both.
What else could they be doing?
Actually not much. Any communications channel for an organisation has to stick to the party line in times of crisis/negativity. While 'Jo' (poor girl/boy who is responding on @YourSSE) would I'm sure like to go that extra mile, it just isn't possible. Any deviation from the standard response could cause Twitter to erupt even further. They've done well to keep up a consistent level of response and are handling abuse well:
Overall, I can't fault their response in any huge way. It's very important that they keep up the responding, even if it is the same message repeated, as this will at least show the angry tweeters that they are listening and willing to respond. Keep it up Jo, tough times, but you're doing well!
Update - 11:13 11/10/13 'Jo' has shown she/he is on the ball by responding to my tweet about this blog post:
Image credit(creative commons)