The most important untapped tool for utilities to engage the next generation of energy customers: influencers

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Energy providers often struggle to tell their stories, connect with customers and overcome steep learning curves. Brands have a unique opportunity to address these issues by using social media influencers as educators and credibility bridges. Yet, few energy companies are leveraging the powerful tactic of influencer marketing.

Energy customers — business and consumer — spend a lot of time on social media, looking for education and inspiration to inform their purchasing decisions. In fact, 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers use social media for B2B purchasing decisions. They seek advice, reviews and tutorials on everything from home and business ownership to finance and green living.

And their most trusted source? Influencers. 92% of consumers trust their favorite content creators more than traditional advertising, with Gen Z the most likely to act on influencer recommendations.

Proven success with micro-influencers

A handful of utilities and B2B energy brands have already found success by partnering with micro-influencers, illustrating how this tactic can work for others too.

Pacific Gas & Electric partnered with a California-based creator to promote its Power Saver Rewards program. The family-focused micro-influencer highlighted how easy it is to earn rewards by temporarily reducing energy use during peak demand. Her single post received a 23.5% engagement rate and comments like, “You should definitely check this out! Sounds like a great program.”

PSEG Long Island partnered with a New York-based lifestyle influencer to promote its mobile app. The video content covered everything from electric heat pumps for pools to balanced billing and available discount programs, all while touting the simplicity of the app. With a 15.74% engagement rate and nearly 8,000 impressions, PSEG Long Island successfully captured the attention of its target audience.

This content worked because it felt authentic and didn’t come across as a manufactured advert. When an influencer talks about their personal experiences, it resonates more with the audience than a message from a brand or service provider. This relatability can demystify followers and encourage them to take action.

Telling stories that are inevitable, relatable and fun

To overcome existing tensions, energy companies must reach their customers where they already are and deliver education and brand stories in a seamless way.

Smaller, regional influencers are the most suitable partners for this.

Micro-influencers (10-50K followers) have highly engaged audiences that are often location- or interest-specific. They are skilled at creating content that engages their followers and drives desired behavior. They use personal storytelling to make their posts relatable and have a strong pulse on what will grab attention.

This content is more memorable and persuasive than one-off mailers or email campaigns because followers see these creators as peers and trust their recommendations. Their content serves as word-of-mouth advertising.

A chef influencer can share stories about switching to electric appliances and related rebate programs. A business owner can share their experience participating in a demand response program or what they learned from an energy audit. A lifestyle creator can highlight what happened to their energy bill after purchasing an electric vehicle or installing solar panels. A family influencer can share their experience with smart home technologies or a time-of-use rate plan. And all influencers can share their experiences with power outages.

Building brand affinity

It’s time for energy companies to engage customers through the channels and personalities they know and trust. Micro-influencer campaigns offer an opportunity to quickly make up lost ground. By embedding messages into already popular digital content channels, energy companies can reach target demographics in an authentic, engaging and effective way.

By harnessing the power of storytelling on platforms where customers already spend significant amounts of time, you not only increase awareness and adoption of programs, services and products, you also build lasting relationships with a new generation of energy consumers.