PPL Electric Utilities
is upping its social media strategy with a new app that allows its customers to engage in friendly competition over energy consumption on Facebook.
"It adds a fun element to energy savings," says Stacey Karavoulias, PPL's social media manager.
The utility began its participation in social media in 2009 for storm-related matters, she says, and is today active on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
The new app is a collaboration among Opower
, an Arlington, VA-based energy information software provider, Facebook and the National Resources Defense Council
. PPL, with its 1.4 million residential customers in Pennsylvania, is one of 16 participating utilities nationwide, serving a total of more than 20 million households.
Anyone can use the app
by logging in with a Facebook account. But PPL customers have the advantage of being able to automatically import their energy data from their account into the application.
PPL has also partnered with Opower for the past two years using the same theory that "competition affects consumer behavior," but an older technology, says Natalie Westring of PPL. In this program, PPL sends a bimonthly paper report card to 100,000 high-usage households, benchmarking their energy consumption against their neighbors with similar sized homes and heating sources and providing energy-savings tips. Compared to a control group, these customers have achieved about a two percent savings, Westring says.
"Having meaningful conversations with customers using social channels will soon become common in the utility industry," says Dan Yates, CEO and co-founder of Opower.
Source: Stacey Karavoulias and Natalie Westring, PPL
Writer: Elise Vider