As communities become more diverse, utilities are looking for ways to connect with ethnic groups as part of the total market rather than as a subset. Our new report Moving from Multicultural Marketing to a Total-Market Approach discusses this outreach strategy and provides examples of two utilities—Southern California Edison and FortisBC—that are applying the philosophy.

Headshot for Nancy Casanova, social media community manager for Southern California Edison (SCE)
In our discussions with SCE, we spoke with Nancy Casanova, social media community manager for the utility. She told us about SCE’s Spanish-language Twitter handle, @SCE_Espanol, the utility’s experience in developing this channel, and some best practices SCE has adopted along the way. Below is an excerpt of our conversation. The full interview can be found in the Socialights: Corporate report, E Source’s biweekly rundown of what’s new in utility social media.
Screenshot of Twitter banner for @SCE_Espanol

E Source: What did you consider when deciding whether you needed a dedicated Spanish-language Twitter handle?

Nancy Casanova: We started by looking at market research, which indicated there were 4.5 million Spanish speakers in our service territory over the age of five, 2 million of whom preferred to communicate only in Spanish. We also considered the number of Spanish-language calls coming into our call centers (almost 5 percent of all calls in the first half of 2013), mobile device penetration, and social media uptake among those communities. All of these pointed toward an opportunity and need for Spanish-language communication with our customers.

E Source: Are there particular topics that seem to be of interest for this audience?

Casanova: We’ve found that our Spanish-speaking customers are really actively seeking information about energy efficiency, safety, low-income programs, and other opportunities to help manage their bills. We’ve also gotten great engagement when we highlight work we’re doing or events we’re hosting in communities with a high proportion of Spanish speakers. We’re learning over time how to better spot and highlight those opportunities.

Customers are a great source for what we need to produce in Spanish next, too. When we’re not proactively speaking in Spanish about some topic, people request that we translate it and make it available to the community.

E Source: How do you handle content creation and management?

Casanova: When we started, we worked with our Spanish-language agency to create some evergreen energy-efficiency content like tips and general education pieces. This gave us a bank of assets to work from and ensured that we were using a single, consistent Spanish dialect across all of our pieces. We still use the agency for higher production, evergreen pieces, but respond directly to customers with our staff when they reply or tweet at us rather than running everything through a third party.

For more about SCE’s total-market approach to multicultural marketing, check out Total Market Strategy: Communicating with Multicultural Customers (PDF), the utility’s presentation at the 2015 E Source Forum. You can also read the notes (PDF) from the session.

Looking to learn more about Spanish-language media trends and preferences? Read the Pew Research Center’s 2015 Hispanic Media: Fact Sheet and The Nielsen Company’s report Digital Es Universal: How U.S. Hispanics Are Driving Growth in Digital.