Fine bites SSE through Twitter

YouGov CEO, Stephan Shakespeare, discusses how news on Twitter of SSE's £10.5m fine was very damaging to their brand.

Utility giant SSE – formerly known as Scottish and Southern Energy and one of the UK’s so-called Big Six energy companies – was fined £10.5m by Ofgem back on 3 April, for “prolonged and extensive mis-selling of gas and electricity”. The fine, which is the largest ever imposed on an energy supplier by Ofgem, had an immediate impact on the brand.

Using SoMA (YouGov’s social media analysis tool) we can see that the news barely registered on Facebook – it did increase from the usual level of conversation about the brand (virtually zero) but still remained well below one per cent of the UK Facebook population.

Twitter, however, was different – on the day of the announcement 41 per cent of the UK twitter population were exposed to tweets about SSE. Interestingly, 45 per cent of those tweets contained the actual figure for the fine (£10.5m).

Our SOMA findings show that the storm on Twitter quickly died down. The proportion of Twitter users exposed to tweets about SSE hit 11 per cent on 4 April and nine per cent the next day. However, by 6 April SSE’s Twitter reach was back to its usual levels – but the damage in the real world was already done.

Turning to BrandIndex, YouGov’s brand perception tool, we can see that Buzz about SSE (people hearing positive news minus negative news) drops from minus nine on the day before the announcement to as low as minus 35 on 9 April.

It is now back at minus 25. SSE’s Index score (a composite of six key measures of brand health) dropped from minus seven to minus 18.

It is now back at minus 14. SSE now has the lowest ranking of all of the energy providers, falling below the likes of Southern Electric, British Gas and Npower, having previously been stationed in a mid-table position.

The announcement had an immediate impact on the SSE brand, and although it has started to make a slight recovery the company still has a long way to go. The key for SSE now will be the speed and strength of that recovery.

This article originally appeared in City AM

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