Chatting social with...Drax Article icon


Chris Woods, head of digital at energy company Drax, talks us through his social media strategy

Which platforms work best for your organisation?

This goes down to what we’re trying to achieve as a business. We’re unique in that we have one massive customer - the country. Our audience are investors, politicians, journalists, so Twitter is where the action is. It’s a serious platform, although it does have a light-hearted and entertainment side too.


We use Instagram mainly to communicate with a younger audience who are perhaps looking into careers  in engineering or choosing STEM subjects at school. It’s not used for stakeholder relations like Twitter or for driving people to our website.


Our largest platform is LinkedIn - it’s slightly bigger than Twitter and pre-dates me. This is where we post blogs and content for our more industry-facing and informed audience. It doesn’t tend to be decision makers, they’re mostly on Twitter, it’s more inward facing.


We use Google+ for its SEO benefits. If you’re using Google properly you need to be on Google+, but content there doesn’t get engaged with much. We tend to use tools that post content there automatically.


Vimeo is the main video player for our website. It’s also good for hiding videos that aren’t for the public but there for journalists when they need them. We use YouTube for our more public facing video.


Do some work better at different times of the day/week or for different messages?
Commuting hours work well, and when people are bored in the evening. Senior people tend to catch up at the weekends. We schedule content, so you see various tweets for 48 hours and we return to them later.


We share the same content with different graphics and messages at peak time, evening commute, morning commute, lunchtime.

Instagram is better later in the day, perhaps because people aren’t in school anymore. But it doesn’t seem to matter too much what time we put it on, we get instant engagement anyway.


LinkedIn gets more engagement in the morning and evening timeslots, but there’s not too much posting on there.


How often do you try to issue social media messages?

We use Twitter ads which follows individuals or people with specific interests. People matter to us whether they are political or they write about us in national media or want to invest in us and be informed.


It’s a noisy environment, we need to find other ways of reaching people.

It’s hypertargeting, not spamming. We’re just trying to make ourselves available to them because it’s relevant. When a politician comes up to one of our team to discuss content, you know you’re reaching the people you intend to reach. Analytics mean that you think they will see it but then they actually do.


We have metrics to show it works. It’s not huge numbers or spend - the fact it’s targeted makes it affordable. It’s tens of people who are very relevant.


We also have a new website. Before there was no storytelling, it was quite staid and boring, we only tended to post our press releases there. [Since the new website launched] we’ve posted around 22 or 23 stories in a month. There’s more editorial content.


It would be odd if a day went by when something wasn’t posted. We have multiple pieces of content from our operations in the US, in Ipswich, in Liverpool, content for different audiences and different markets.

What successes have you seen?
We test things out and that informs us about future content. It’s still early days for us.

Technology draws people in more than any other, though it’s not necessarily the most important.

We use gifs and images to tell stories in bitesize chunks. Even if you don’t click through, you get some of the story. We also combined infographic and gifs to form a gifographic which conveys the most important message of the story. For instance, we want to talk about how we power the country, but as an energy supplier, we don’t want to be talking about power cuts so the main message to convey is Don’t worry, there’s a backup plan if the lights go outWe’re not trying to scare you - we have the ability to turn the lights back on.

Our most read stories have included a visual element.


Have you evolved your social media strategy over the period?
As with any good social media strategy, the first thing we did was listen where people were talking about us and what they were saying. That informs what we can talk about  and what our business strategy is. It informs how we communicate. We can be more attention grabbing.


What advice would you give others starting out in social media?

There’s always a way of making something engaging, even if at first look, it’s dull or unfathomable like energy technology. There’s always a way of finding stories to tell about what you do.

Don’t treat [social media] like something special. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the stories you tell.