Engagement on social isn’t predictable. It’s not always about who has the biggest brand, the most followers or the flashiest ads – it can be about the right approach hitting the audience at the right time. Energy provider Energy Online proved this with a fun, simple Facebook Live promo early this year, which won some of the highest engagement levels the Zavy team has seen in years.
Michael Wood is Energy Online’s Marketing Manager – in fact, for a while, he was practically the whole marketing team. He describes Energy Online as a ‘challenger brand’ – one of the first companies to take on the big providers.
They entered the market with a focus on competitive pricing, simplicity, and with consumer choice in mind, no contracts. Providing LPG, natural gas and electricity, the brand has built up a solid customer base of around 90,000 customers. Nowadays, there are plenty of other providers competing for customers, but Energy Online has maintained its place in the market by being straight-up, reliable and easy to deal with.
“We’re the energy company for people who don’t want to spend too much time thinking about their energy. No gimmicks or free TVs when you sign up. It’s about a relationship built on trust and transparency,” says Michael.
Because Energy Online is smaller than the major providers, they had to look at ways to build the brand beyond expensive TV campaigns. They’ve been on social media since 2014, initially setting up a Facebook page with a focus on organic engagement via tactics like competitions, then shifting to a more strategic approach.
As Michael explains, the social media strategy has helped them build engagement with their loyal followers: “Now it’s a two-way conversation about all manner of things from how to save energy to celebrating Mums on Mother’s Day. That’s set us up for some of the success we’ve seen lately. Our followers are actively engaged with the brand in a way they weren’t a couple of years ago.”
The big Facebook Live success didn’t come out of the blue. As the brand started ramping up its social media presence, a few ways of connecting with customers were tested. The marketing team noticed other brands using Facebook Live to boost engagement and thought they’d put their own spin on it.
They ran their first live stream giveaway event at the end of 2019, then another early in 2020. Both were an immediate hit, with high engagement and 25-30,000 comments apiece. They knew that once the turmoil of 2020 died down, it was time to run something even bigger and better. The team promoted the Livestream through eDMs to customers – no paid ads – and opened it up to the entire customer base. Social Media & Content Manager Kimberly Burgess explains that it was the same winning formula, “but slicker.”
“The results were incredible,” she says. “It really was beyond our expectations. Customers loved that they could engage directly with us in real time, in a way that reflects what we know they love about our brand – simple and fun.
During the Valentine-themed promo, presenters dressed as cupids, drew names and unwrapped mystery prizes, while the audience watched and commented. While the prizes weren’t huge – they included a coffee machine, speakers, headphones, gift cards and energy credits. The entire campaign was conceived and delivered internally – true to brand, on a paired back budget.
Social Media Associate Reilly Polaschek, said “the idea wasn’t just about a giveaway for giveaways sake, it was about building brand love with our customers and expressing our brand personality.”
The idea of an instant win along with the fun, light-hearted approach held huge appeal. It got through to a large number of people – with over 82,000 impressions and over 186,000 engagements. The sentiment was also overwhelmingly positive – a 60% score.
As Michael puts it: “I think we walked into a perfect storm – after COVID-19 and the lockdowns, everyone was ready to have some fun It caught on like wildfire.”
As part of their push to do more with their social media presence, Energy Online started working with Zavy in 2018. The team finds Zavy’s social analytics tools invaluable, not just for measuring their success but as a way to find inspiration and see what’s working for other brands.
They use their Zavy dashboard to keep an eye on other brands – without the time-drain involved in following dozens of other companies on social media. This gives them a quick, curated view of what other brands are doing on social, in New Zealand and internationally. They can see trends emerge, watch as other companies try new strategies and feed those insights back into their own work.
Kimberly explains: “It gives you a lay of the land to start to think – how can we be different? How can we be better? You can look at top posts across the industry and think: are these brands all looking a bit samey? Should we be zigging or zagging?”
Of course, Energy Online also uses Zavy to measure its own performance. The visual dashboard gives almost instant feedback about engagement on specific posts, and a way to benchmark their work against other brands as well.
During the big Facebook Live event, the team saw engagement skyrocket in real-time – Michael recalls a staggering 25,000+ comments within the first few minutes of going live. By the end, they’d received 147,450 comments. Afterwards, the Zavy dashboard showed the company miles above the rest of the pack in terms of engagement and sentiment:
“We got such clear evidence that this was head and shoulders above anything else. It told us the formula was right. Energy Online has always been a brand where we can use comms to test and learn. So it’s important we ensure success can be measured. Zavy gave us a tangible way of assessing the impact. The proof was there that this was something we should do again.”
– Michael Wood.
Of course, the marketing people aren’t the only ones interested in social media engagement. Other stakeholders in the business need to see that spending on social is worthwhile – and Zavy’s simple, clear visual dashboard makes it easier.
“The visualisation of data is another Zavy strength. It lets you paint a picture of how a brand is performing for stakeholders without having to deeply explain the numbers,” explains Kimberly.
The marketing team uses Zavy to strengthen internal reporting, particularly around ‘softer’ metrics like sentiment and engagement that are so valuable in social media marketing.
“We use it to measure how we’re doing against industry peers,” Michael says, “To be able to showcase and report internally real time sentiment towards our brand and how we’re doing compared to peers is so great. We have our paid media metrics, of course, but this is a great visual tool to communicate social media performance – follower engagement and sentiment.”
The dashboard helped them showcase the success of the big Facebook Livestream, cementing it as a valid – and valuable – marketing tool for the business.
The next challenge for Energy Online? Figuring out how to top one of New Zealand’s most successful Facebook Livestreams ever. And again, they’ll probably be looking to Zavy for inspiration.
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