Social Media and the UK Nuclear Industry

We have been blogging at Get Into Nuclear for a while now and as we realise that this is a sometimes contentious – and hence niche – topic that isn’t going to attract millions of views per month such as an entertainment or fashion blog. That said we’re very interested at considering how impactful and beneficial and correct social media strategy is for a business, how the nuclear industry is currently exploiting or missing out on this and whether we can do anything to help them?

“Businesses must adapt to social media” Gary Vaynerchuk, digital marketing and social-media pioneer

“The UK population is now 65.1 million, with 92.6% of the population actively using the internet. There are still approximately 38 million (58%) people actively using Social Media, which will continue to grow throughout 2017.” Think Digital First.

The nuclear industry in the UK has accepted social media no doubt with the Regulators and Tier One companies such as the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), EDF Energy, Sellafield Ltd and many others regularly providing updates via blogs on their websites and in the case of Sellafield Ltd via regular updates to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. In addition you can find regular updates on the nuclear industry from recruitment companies Morson Group, Rullion and up until recently NuExec Consulting. Moving down to Tier 2 and below it become more difficult to find specific blogs and it is hit and miss to whether they have a social media account at all and if it is used affectively or at all. Finally you have the independent blogs such as those here at Get Into Nuclear and Nuclear Matters who embrace blogging and social media also.

Now, before we go any further it must be stated that we obviously understand that a lot of information on, about and surrounding the nuclear industry may not be for public consumption. To clear things up here we are not talking about companies sharing Reactor Pressure Vessel designs or providing updates of a delay to commissioning works on site. We are talking about companies in the UK Nuclear Industry using the internet and social media mediums to raise awareness and the profile of the respective enterprise.

In 2017, if you are a business or organisation that wants to be heard in the world, refocusing on the content you put out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Linkedin, Medium, and whatever else has the market’s attention at the time, is a huge factor. It used to be that only the largest of corporations could reach the masses with large marketing campaigns on billboards, TV and cinema adverts. Social media networks are like today’s version of radio, TV, print, and outdoor advertising. Anyone can afford to you produce content for Vine, Medium, SoundCloud, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

The aim of a social media strategy for companies is to build brand awareness, improve interactions with the public, build a community, increase website visits, driving sales and leads and research & development. When considering a social marketing strategy it is also important to consider 3 things; how you are communicating, the content you are putting out and medium that you are using.

As discussed very briefly above the nuclear industry is utilising the various social media platforms in varying numbers and with varying effectiveness.

Let’s look at the key mediums:

There are numerous blogs out there that are regularly being updated. A google search will get you quickly to the Top Level companies such as the NDA, Sellafield Ltd or EDF Energy, the Recruiters such as Thomas-Thor, Rullion or Morson Group and the independants of Get Into Nuclear and Nuclear Matters. The gaping hole in these searches are the mass of companies within the Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The Top Level companies social media posts are mainly aimed at increasing social interaction, building awareness of the culture within the nuclear industry, identifying potential roles available, advertising socio-economic benefits of their endeavours and overall trying to improve the perception of the industry as a whole.

The Recruiters are trying to raise brand awareness, build a community and ultimately aim in making a ‘sale’ by providing the handshake between candidate and employer. Their blog posts are relevant and regular enough to raise the site profile on Google to drive people to the site. It is surprising that there are not more Recruitment companies in the industry doing the same.

The Nuclear Supply Chain at different levels do not in the main have a regular blog to publicise. ‘good news stories’ to raise brand awareness, interact with the public or promote sales. They all have websites – which they would have spent quite a lot of money in developing – that can be found by searching the companies name but these tend to be static sites with the odd news update. This is not in all cases but definitely in the main.

Twitter is quite interesting in fact. On the Nuclear Employers Page of the website we have links to company information on many of the larger employers in the industry and the majority do have Twitter feeds many of which have not been used for a while; years in some instances. Sellafield Ltd are one of the most prominent with 5 different Twitter accounts varying from 581 to 9,873 followers. Magnox Ltd also update regularly with 3,928 followers but it is surprising that a company as large as Cavendish Nuclear does not have a Twitter feed.

There is very very little engagement on Facebook from the industry at all. Cavendish Nuclear has 117 likes, Get Into Nuclear has a Facebook Page with 200 likes. The Nuclear Matter (US Page) has 303,000 likes, the NEI (US page) has 45,000 likes and Nuclear Street (US page also) has 31,000 likes. So not much of a presence or following on Facebook at all for the UK Nuclear Industry.

You’ll find Sellafield Ltd on Instagram posting some great photos of work done in days gone by to updates on employee initiatives – they have 425 followers. EDF Energy are on Instagram with 1,409 followers posting mainly interactions with the public at events. Horizon Nuclear Power also have 185 followers. Nuclear does not have much of a presence on Instagram at the moment – lets work this in numbers; #nuclear has had 187,000 posts whereas #shoes has had over 63,000,000!

There appears to be no nuclear related organisation, website or enterprise that is currently active on Snapchat. Let’s consider some of the general stats on Snapchat here to ascertain if the industry is missing out on this medium; Snapchat has over 300 million active users, 1 million videos are uploaded daily with 10 billion daily video views. 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years of age and 70% of users are female. People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day which is more than Instagram’s latest stat for the same demographic. Source

The one-third of UK smartphone users, roughly 16m, who log on each month compares to Twitter, which had 13.2m UK users last year, but is much smaller than Facebook, with 32.3m Brits on the platform in 2015, according to data from research firm eMarketer.

Bechtel Corporation post sporadically on Medium with 903 follows but these are not all nuclear based posts. There are many posts on the topic of the nuclear industry with varying views. While Medium was created for individuals wanting to tell their stories online, businesses and brands have begun to experiment with it as a place to amplify their voice; it is an appealing playground for adventurous marketers looking for new ways to associate their brand with great content.

Pinterest is a place in which you can ‘pin’ others posts to your boards and remind yourself why you pinned them in the first place e.g. “this is how a nuclear reactor works”. The reality is that 80% of pinterest users are female and the majority of the pins are more like “I want to paint my kitchen this shade of yellow”. There is however some actually really great infographics regarding the nuclear industry that are very useful and educational. Other than EDF Energy who are on there with 4 pin boards with a total of 4 followers there appears to be no nuclear enterprises currently utilising Pinterest.

This is something that is being increasingly used by the likes of DSRL up at Dounreay, Sellafield Ltd, EDF Energy, Horizon Nuclear Power, NuGen, Nuvia Ltd, Atkins, NNL, James Fisher Nuclear, Rolls-Royce to name just a few. The UK nuclear industry has really embraced vlogging, particularly on YouTube. With a reported 8 out of 10 18–49 years watching YouTube every month it is no wonder that this is such an attractive medium.

Widely used by the industry with Company Pages, personal profiles, nuclear recruiters and numerous groups. LinkedIn is probably the UK nuclear industries leading social media platform.

For individuals it is place to ‘set-and-go’ by putting your CV online and awaiting the numerous approaches from recruiters. For recruiters it is a great source to find specific resources that could turn out to be that perfect candidate. For groups it is a great place to enter a discussion in a ‘forum’ manner.

Regards the companies themselves there is currently very little engagement. However LinkedIn can do so much more. Believe it or not, LinkedIn is an amazing tool to promote your product or service. It’s a place to start conversations with others in your industry.

Regardless of being world-class and leading in many areas compared to other industries the nuclear industry is far from top of the class when it comes to social media engagement. Those familiar with the industry will not necessarily find this surprising; be that due to the commercial (secretive) nature of the industry, the aging demographics of the industry, the relative slowness of the industry to adapt to changes in technology, the contentious nature of all discussions on “nuclear” or the perception of WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for the companies involved*. Let’s score the UK Nuclear Industry on its use of the main social media platforms:

Twitter: C

Facebook: D

Instagram: D

Snapchat: E

Medium: E

Pinterest: D

Vlogging: B

LinkedIn: B

  • to elaborate on this most companies in the supply chain win work by following a formal tendering process. This results in the opinion that it is not considered that social media is worthwhile as it is seen that it is not the means by which sales will be made.
  • Yes!

Okay we’ll digress;

The power of social media provides businesses with the perfect opportunity to reach out and connect with potential customers. Social media platforms have evolved to become the current marketing giants even bigger than the likes of the TV adverts and Newspapers of the 90’s as they can serve anyone with any budget – “Boost for £8 to reach 3,800 people” was not an offering of BskyB 15 years ago but is available to anyone on Facebook.

While the majority of industries have jumped on board, the majority of nuclear companies have fallen behind in the adoption of active social media practices for their business. While they understand its popularity, they struggle to see the relevance or see the value it can bring to their marketing efforts.

This perception definitely isn’t the case! Social media can benefit nuclear companies in a multiple of ways including attracting prospective customers, engaging with the public and networking in professional online communities. If you’re not already convinced, the below benefits will help to persuade you.

The worst strategy that can be employed is utilise social media “just because everyone else is doing it” this is dangerous and has the potential to harm a business and its reputation. Social media is a great opportunity to:

  • share stories and engage more with the public
  • attract and recruit new employees
  • drive traffic to a website
  • share the companies culture

All social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn – will be the most effective by tailoring the context of the content for each platform. It could be argued that the context of the information provided is more important than the content itself.

Twitter is for ‘live’ events/news such as contract wins, new recruits in post, team endeavours and challenges. Twitter is a fantastic platform for conversations, harbouring relationships and managing perceptions with the public – which is probably more important in the nuclear industry than any other industry in the world.

Facebook is used more for social and community initiatives and is a great place to ‘glocalise’ the business by tailoring the promotion of posts to the relevant viewers in the area with specific interests. As an example Facebook would be the perfect place to promote a local community forum meeting regarding the Nuclear New Build (NNB) which is proposed to be built in the area or an open day in a manufacturers works aimed at attracting the younger generation to consider the nuclear industry as a career for them.

Twitter and Facebook in equal measure are great opportunities to monitor conversations and become part of the conversations as they are happening. This can cover a broad range of topics from concerns over the use of nuclear, technical questions, parliamentary policy discussions, investors queries or questions on job opportunities.

LinkedIn is more business focused particularly in the announcement of company initiatives, announcements and the recruitment of new employees. It is important that informative value added information is provided rather than a barrage of promotional and advertisements.

Looking for a different perspective LinkedIn is the best tool at a Business Development Managers (BDM) disposal to enable them to contact key contacts at other nuclear organisations ideally following an initial contact but not necessarily so. LinkedIn also represents an opportunity to showcase your thoughts, opinions and knowledge on the nuclear industry by posts on your feed, creating and contributing to groups and posting your own articles and gaining followers.

In a bigger picture social media is the best chance that the UK has of solving the skills crisis – this is not limited to the nuclear industry. Using social media could provide those insights into the types of careers offered, the sorts of fantastic projects or services the nuclear industry focuses on. This will most certainly attract attention from the younger generation who use social media as their primary source of information.

It is also important here to consider that training on social media is required for employees to provide advice on the use of and guidance on the “do’s and don’ts” from a commercial, security and safety perspective. The simple rule of thumb is “don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say in public”.

Overarching to this the company needs to know it’s overall strategy and big picture goals when undertaking a social media strategy. This needs to be at the core of EVERY post, tweet, update, photo and infographic that is put out there as once we have pressed send you have lost control of it – it’s out there.

Also it is worth noting that you need to consider each of the platforms completely separately; think about yourself and how you conduct yourself in a business meeting, a family event, a night out with your mates or reading a magazine in your down-time. You act completely differently in each situation even though you are the same person; and this is no differently than in each of the social media platforms below. This is illustrated fantastically in three separate wine advertisements across Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


Business minded individuals usually already in employment looking to network, showcase their skills, to recruit, be-recruited, sell or be sold.


Be professional. What’s new in industry, contract wins, who’s hiring, in-depth company presentations.


Company promotional information, initiatives, contract wins, business achievements and all things careers – current opportunities, why work for us.


Brand/business development. Networking. Establishing sector influence. Recruitment.


People covering all demographics looking to engage in live events, discussions and happenings.


Try to hashtag a trending topic. Pose a question wherever possible (not always looking for a reply). Use line breaks to take up more screen with the limited characters.


Trickle of value-add information on the company, industry, events and happenings. Combined with a reactive strategy to engage in ‘live’ happenings and to jump in on the comings & goings and conversations as they happen. Quotes and really smart hashtag usage are really effective also.


Public engagement. Influencer status. News updates. Brand awareness. Video engagement.


Anyone and everyone is on Facebook from 12 year old kids to 82-year old grandmothers. The demographic has shifted to the older generation in recent years but is still ever popular with over 2 billion people signed-up Facebook allows you to reach most demographics.


Important to integrate content into the platform. People trust Facebook so don’t have them clicking off too quickly to view a video.


Think magazine when you post a picture. Keep text short then straight in with call to action.


Thoughtful content that users want to share. Put out slide shares, blog posts, videos to bring value – Facebook do not like spam! Provide value to build equity to ask for the business down the line.

Socio economics. Brand awareness. Video engagement.


90% of users are under the age of 35 with 300 million UK monthly users with 51% accessing Instagram daily. This split is 50/50 male/female.


Picture, pictures, picture. Tell the companies story as it unfolds. Keep the pictures real – not magazine like Facebook. Post inspiration quotes, questions, ‘luxury’ photos – make it sexy. Send back to the bio for link to site or page.


Great photos and quote cards are the bread and butter of Instagram. Content that people want to like and share are the aim of the game. Currently cannot post a link unless in the bio or paid advertising.


Tell your story. Brand awareness. Marketing.


With over 300 hours of videos uploaded a minute, YouTube has something for everyone. 41% of users have taken action after seeing an advert.


Entertain whilst teaching. Nuclear is perfect for this – engineering, science, construction, safety, politics etc. Wow the viewer.


YouTube is invaluable for business when growing a brand and reaching new audiences. Give, give, give information away to gain leverage with the viewers.


Brand/influencer status.


Vast majority of the younger generation (70% of users under 25). Additionally, 70% of these are currently female.


With only 10 seconds to get your message across it makes sense to stick to a theme to tell a story.


Screams “Army more than just a solider” type mini 10 second video to showcase roles in nuclear to the younger generations.


Brand awareness. Influence status. Engaging Ads.


85% of the audience are women who love to share content. Interior design, fashion and cooking currently killing-it on Pinterest.


Images are best displayed vertically to align with the pin board theme. Processes, flow-charts, stories, infographics can be formatted to look good on Pinterest. Give knowledge in the process.


Great Top 10… 5 Most Used… Flowcharts, infographics. Drive traffic to YouTube, Twitter etc. Great for selling Products.


Informative/ promotional information which users like to share.


Audience consists of highly-educated tech-savvy individuals of which half are under the age of 35.


Blog format so long posts. Medium shows the time to read and 7 mins is the most read. You could break up larger posts potentially. The focus is on rewarding content for its quality, and not for the popularity of the author. With Medium, you can get your content in front of your prospects even if they don’t follow you.


Medium uses a quality algorithm where the content that attracts the most engagement. There’s an algorithm in place so that if your story is interesting and useful, it can go viral within the platform, possibly exposing tens of thousands of people to your story.


Brand/ Influence status. Build diverse audience.


Get Into Nuclear aims to provide information and support wherever needed within the UK Nuclear Industry to help to modernise and make more accessible the industry with the aim of avoiding the impeding crippling skills shortage. Our recent research and discussion with current workers, graduates, people outside of the industry, students and universities has led to the conclusion that the industry is not accessible enough to outsiders. The perception is that if you don’t wear a lab coat or have a physics degree there is no room for you in nuclear. This is simply not the case.

Additionally, the well established brands within the industry have very little or zero social media presence which is where most the above demographic spend the majority of their time. Social media allows the industry to improve public interaction to improve public perceptions – or at least ensure they are fully informed and do not have perceptions based on incorrect information or myths. Social media also allows for social impact at a national and local level by providing a means to advertise local events and regional job vacancies. These with the added benefit of brand awareness, product showcasing and business development makes an implemented Social Media strategy essential for all business and organisations within the UK Nuclear Industry.

How we can help

If you are a business, organisation or even person within, or looking to get into the nuclear industry in the UK and would like to find out more about how you can utilise social media we can help. We can do this in several ways via consultancy, training, implementation, social media management or running campaigns. Get in touch via any of the social media channels or via email.



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Andrew Crabtree

Andrew Crabtree


Husband, Dad, Programme Manager in the Nuclear Industry | ex-pro rugby player, 4x Ironman finisher, ex-Bank Manager |