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Meet the team behind Hydro-Quebec’s electrifyingly sassy social media
MONTREAL – There are a few companies that come to mind when it comes to excelling at the art of the comeback on social media: Netflix, Tesco and of course, Wendy’s.
But, in a game of high risk and high reward, there’s one Quebec corporation that can bring the shock and sass just as quickly as the rest.
We’re talking about Hydro-Quebec, of course – did we mention they know how to get saucy in both English and French? Say watt!?
If you haven’t already heard, the public utility company’s mouthy comments are causing a lot of Quebecers to regularly spit out their morning coffee through their teeth.
And by a lot, we mean more than 31,000 Quebecers.
A Facebook group, aptly called Passif-agressif Hydro-Québec, created in 2016, has garnered tens of thousands of followers waiting to see what the social media team at the Crown corporation will do next – and every sparky post has arguably more likes, comments and shares than the last.
Meet Jonathan Côté and Pierre-Alexandre Buisson, the electrifying masterminds behind Hydro-Quebec’s social media accounts.
CTV: Hydro-Quebec has been around on social media for a while (Twitter since 2012; Facebook since 2016), why did the corporation decide to turn up the heat?
JC: We wanted to shift the tone and evolve more. We wanted to be closer to our customers and Quebecers in general. What I remember is when we were trying to convince all the directors and the president -- the big bosses -- to go a different route, it was kind of difficult. There was a lot of education inside the company on how you handle social media. It was an evolution that happened slowly over the years.
CTV: What is the point of using humour on your social media accounts?
JC: The idea is to show that we understand social media and how people use it: some use it to get information, debate and make friends. As an organization, if you’re able to get into that game, it helps make the company seem more human. Though, there are definitely times when we’re going to tone it down -- like when there are one million people without power.
PAB: People are less likely to joke when they’ve been without power for three days.
JC: One of the things we’ve noticed over the last few years is how the general tone of talking about Hydro-Quebec has changed. It’s been a positive thing.
CTV: Do you think your humour has been lost on the ‘OK, boomer’ generation?
JC: I think nowadays, it’s not only the younger generation that understands social media. If you talk to anybody at Hydro-Quebec these days, they will understand how good it has been for us to change our tone.
PAB: 2015 was a low point, reputation-wise, for us. This really helps us reach a younger audience. Their image of Hydro-Quebec comes from their parents and sometimes their parents hate us, but now they see a different side of us and we have a whole audience coming to our page to look at our funny answers.
CTV: How far is too far? Have you ever had to apologize for saying something inappropriate?
JC: We wanted to make Hydro-Quebec more human, and one of the characteristics of being human is we make mistakes -- and we do make mistakes every day. If you think you messed up, you apologize -- and we’ve done it before. We’re not afraid to apologize, if needed.
PAB: If we’re really not sure if what we’re going to write is acceptable, well, we sit next to each other and we ask.
JC: We’re always challenging each other.