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Social Media Policies Implemented for Safety

Claiborne Electric General Manager & CEO Mark Brown would like to take time to notify members and explain a policy the Co-op has implemented with social media accounts.

After listening to and participating in conversations with communications teams at electric co-ops across the nation concerning the safety of members during outages, Claiborne Electric has implemented a policy to remove public comments where a member mentions a specific neighborhood, address or street during an outage.        

“For about three years, our members and local residents have been communicating with us through our Facebook page and Twitter account, and our Facebook page has especially become a hub for members to get explanations and updates during a widespread outage,” said Mark Brown, Claiborne Electric General Manager and CEO. “We currently have nearly 2,500 people following our Facebook page, and when an outage update gets shared, it’s not uncommon for more than 20,000 people to see the post.”

Brown said that for several months, member safety and social media have been discussion topics at conferences employees have attended. He said that most people don’t think about the fact that when they post their address in a public comment on the Co-op’s Facebook page, they are potentially telling several thousand people that not only are the lights off in their neighborhood, but so are the security systems.

“Members trying to get information on their specific street can unknowingly create an unsafe situation by attracting people with ill intentions to that neighborhood,” Brown said. “So, for the safety of our members, who are also our friends and neighbors, we will be deleting comments that mention specific addresses, streets, or neighborhoods.”

Brown said social media has been a great tool to communicate with members, but the Facebook page cannot be used to report an outage. He said the page cannot be integrated with an outage management system, so placing private information in public comments is neither necessary or helpful to the members.

“We want to have as many open lines of communication as possible with our members, and social media provides us with additional options. These are great platforms to gain information, but this simply isn’t the place to try to report an outage.”

According to Brown, the Co-op offers many outage reporting options that keep member information private. He said the most helpful way is to use the Co-op’s free mobile app, SmartHub.

“We understand that phone lines get congested during outages because our office is overwhelmed with calls, and we know that can be frustrating to our members. SmartHub allows members to report an outage privately with the push of a button in the app, with no phone call to the office necessary.”

Overall, Brown said the social media platforms have been very successful, and he hopes members continue to use those outlets to communicate with the Co-op.

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