Lance Brown / Community Manager / Solar Power World
Social media can have a profound effect on your solar business. Ask Jim Jenal. He and two colleagues started Run on Sun, a commercial and residential solar PV installation company based in Pasadena, Calif. (and a Solar Power World Top 250 Contractor), in 2006. Since then, the company has amassed 20,000 Twitter followers on @RunOnSun.
Jenal says when Run on Sun releases blog posts or announcements on social media, the impact is immediate on the company website or blog.
“It’s a way to get our information out there so people can see it,” he says. “That indirectly contributes to leads coming through the door or website.”
A handful of notable solar marketers have built their reputation on social media. Among them is Raina Russo (@RainaRusso), who runs #solarchat. The monthly Twitter-based discussion connects thousands of solar professionals and has become something of an industry “think tank.”
The hashtag #solar is often tweeted more than 200 times an hour, according to hashtags.org. The solar audience is certainly there, but to make the most of your time, you have to be specific about to whom your posts are aimed.
The following three questions will help you focus your social media efforts and increase your bottom line:
Question One: What Is Your Goal?
In business, there’s one overriding objective: Make money. That can be done by increasing sales or decreasing expenses. Social media can help with both strategies.
If you aim to increase sales, social media can help you retain customers, increase brand awareness and generate leads. It’s also a key platform to manage your brand’s value and reputation.
If you want to decrease expenses, social media can help you offer customer support and provides an economical marketing pathway. You can also attract talent on social media, rather than using costly job boards or attending career fairs, which use time and money.
Question Two: Who Is Your Audience?
More than 1.5 billion people use social media. Who do you want to reach?
Users may be looking to buy a product or receive customer service. More often customers are taking to social channels to vent frustrations. Airlines are particularly astute when it comes to answering customers. On Twitter, complaints of long lines at the check-in counter quickly receive a “Sorry for the delay. Thank you for flying with us!”
It helps to define your audience by location, age and tastes. Focusing on these details lets you provide the right content to the right person. By targeting the correct people on social media and giving them white papers, case studies, videos, blog posts and articles, you can position your company as a thought-leader within the solar industry.
Question Three: What Is Your Content?
You wouldn’t start a baseball team without evaluating the talent, so why would you do so with your social media strategy?
The general rule of thumb is to share content that makes your audience’s life or job easier, educate them about the solar industry or move their emotions. In turn, they will appreciate your brand.
Ask yourself: Why would I follow my brand? Why would you decide to follow a company’s updates? What’s in it for you? What kind of information are you looking for from them?
Armed with these answers, now it’s time to get started. Tweet us (@SolarPowerWorld) while you’re at it!
Lance Brown is the community manager for WTWH Media, Solar Power World’s publisher, and oversees all social media channels for multiple corporate clients, including the solar industry. For more marketing advice, check out marketing.wtwhmedia.com or tweet Lance @WTWH_SocialGuru.
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