By adaptive - March 20th, 2013

With a new impetus to leverage its social media presence, British Gas is showing other corporations how social networks are a vital component of its communications network


Trust is a word that is often linked to corporate brands but is difficult to define. Energy companies have been on the offensive recently in a bid to gain the trust of their customers, none more so than British Gas.
Outside Line has been working with British Gas to overhaul their use of social media. The agency outlined their approach as: “Building a continuous, streamlined communication strategy that aims to join up all of British Gasʼ news, and listen to what customers are saying about the brand has helped the brand understand their audience, provide active customer service solutions and widen their audience reach and brand advocacy.
“Working with guest bloggers within the sustainable energy sector, sponsoring the be2camp Social Media Built environment awards and reporting on the latest green innovations has helped extend British Gas' appeal to both customers and non customers and enabled them to highlight their commitment and research into the future of energy.”
How Outside Line developed the social media communications for British Gas.
British Gas have been actively building all of the social media networks they use as touch points to reach their existing and potential new customers.
The social media activity that British Gas have been involved in has enabled the company to listen to their customers and develop new services. More online self-help is now an integral component of the corporation’s brand. The company also set-up forums around the time of the last round of tariff increases to gauge sentiment. As a direct result of the Company listening to its customers the Tariff Check service was born. 
The company now contacts its customers if they could potentially be on a better tariff. This link between the social listening the company did, and the development of a new product is clearly the future of social media usage that all corporations can learn from.
The personalisation of communications is now an accepted easy win for corporations. British Gas used this as the basis of their new Tariff Check service.
More communication has been at the heart of the new social media initiatives. The Newsroom that British Gas now has is a hub around which all of their other channels of communication orbit.

An interview with Outside Line

Lloyd Salmons, Co-founder and director at Outside Line – the social agency for British Gas

[Q] What do you think are the key trends within the social media space that corporations should be paying attention to now?

[LS] Social media is no longer just about growing huge numbers of ‘fans’, but developing loyal brand advocates that are engaged with the content you’re putting out there. It’s about word of mouth marketing in its simplest form, developing a customer base that wants to know what you’re offering rather than being forced into liking something because it suits a brand’s objectives. This principle applies to all uses of social media, whether they be B2C, B2B or corporate. 

[Q] In your view how do the social media networks need to evolve in order to deliver real world commercial gains for the corporations using them?

[LS] Social media can provide a direct route to sales, if executed well enough. It’s about educating your fans or followers, before providing a direct link through to purchase. Social networks need to develop to make this process easier and more integrated into the user journey – Facebook has just re-launched their ‘offers’ service, so I think this is the first step of many towards making social media more commercially minded. 

[Q] Engagement and brand advocacy are currently the key components of a corporations’ social media activity. How will this change as we move into the era of social media 2.0?

[LS] I think there will be more of a focus on ROI – If brands are consistently investing large sums of money into social media they’re going to want to know how this is affecting their bottom line. “How many sales is this generating for me?” is a common question, as well as the brand sentiment that can be drastically affected through social media promotion. With British Gas, their focus is on how their brand and products are perceived – they want to be viewed more positively and social media can play a huge part in that. 

[Q] How do you think the social media tools we have at the moment need to expand and adapt to deliver the services and insight that corporations need to deliver the commercial data they are looking for?

[LS] The tools at the moment are very basic and only go some way in understanding audiences. In order for the needs of brands to be met they need to focus on direct routes to purchase, identifying brand advocates and understanding in more detail what content is specifically working to change perceptions.

[Q] Is social media 2.0 all about the data and what it can tell corporations about their markets, customers and commercial partners?

[LS] Definitely. Data is king in a world that’s not yet fully understood. Brands are used to working with advertising and PR metrics, so it’s vital that social media is treated in a number crunching way too. Brands understand figures, comparison with competitors and large numbers, so this is currently the way that investment in social media can be justified. If it provides insight into their audience and customer base this is what’s seen as valuable to them. 

Next Reads

The Corporate Social Media Summit New York 2014

June 2014, New York

Become a social business: For superior marketing response, sharper corporate decision-making, enhanced innovation and a happier, more loyal customer

Brochure Programme
comments powered by Disqus