Yesterday, Facebook announced it’s changing what people will see in their news feed, prioritizing posts from family and friends above brand- and publisher-provided content. The social media giant’s decision stems from an acknowledgment that the passive consumption of information, particularly from brands and publishers, has a negative effect on people’s lives, according to The New York Times article Facebook is Changing. What Does That Mean for Your News Feed?

Given that the majority of utilities’ social audience is on Facebook, and The New York Times wrote that brands and publishers are the losers here, what does this mean for utilities? Tweet this!

The news feed change intends to shift users’ balance of content back toward meaningful human interaction. CEO Mark Zuckerberg made this pretty clear in his post on the social site, saying, “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”

By specifically saying “time well spent,” Zuckerberg gave a shout-out to Tristan Harris, a former Google engineer, whose organization Time Well Spent aims to “[reverse] the digital attention crisis and [realign] technology with humanity’s best interests.” Zuckerberg is making a values-based adjustment to his business, one that isn’t likely to benefit his business in the short term. He wants people to have meaningful interactions with family and friends and to feel less inundated by brand- and publisher-provided content.

Facebook’s video explains its focus on person-to-person interaction

Given that the majority of utilities’ social audience is on Facebook, and The New York Times wrote that brands and publishers are the losers here, what does this mean for utilities?

“I see this as more of a motivator than a deterrent,” said Jackie Vettorino, Duke Energy’s manager of social media and brand journalism. “Because we’re in the public-service space and we don’t rely on Facebook for revenue, our strategy has been to create content that facilitates conversation and interaction with our customers. Facebook’s changes will push us to make sure we’re still on the cutting edge of what people respond to.”

“This change affirms our strategic focus on serving customers through the channels that work for them.” —Jackie Vettorino, Duke Energy

Vettorino noted that Duke’s Facebook strategy changes during storm events, when conversations with customers happen constantly. But when the sky is blue, the utility still aims to provide meaningful Facebook content that engages customers in positive back-and-forth. Vettorino also mentioned the customer experience implications of Facebook’s adjustment.

“A greater focus on meaningful interaction on Facebook means more opportunity through our social care program,” said Vettorino. “People already come to us for help with high bills and outages. This change affirms our strategic focus on serving customers through the channels that work for them.”

Utilities will have to wait and see how this change from Facebook plays out, but Vettorino is confident in Duke’s strategy.

Contributing Authors

Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Luke Currin leads the strategy and content development for the E Source Residential Marketing, Business Marketing, and Corporate Communications...