An effective digital solar marketing strategy can be a powerful addition to the overall marketing efforts of solar contractors. In this series by Aurora Solar, we’ve explored a number of different elements of digital solar marketing that can help contractors connect with prospects online. We’ve discussed why digital solar marketing is important, how to build an effective website, choose the right keywords and optimize your site for Google search. We’ve also addressed the ins and outs of social media marketing through Facebook and LinkedIn.
Twitter is a social media platform that allows you to build trust and brand awareness, something that can help homeowners and businesses make the leap to solar more readily. While all social media platforms work best with a clear idea of how to use them, this is particularly true for Twitter. In this article, we discuss best practices for how solar contractors can use Twitter as a powerful part of their solar marketing strategy.
How Twitter can boost your solar business
There are a number of ways Twitter can add value to your business. Twitter can help you build relationships with customers and potential clients, keep tabs on buzz about your services, and drive traffic to your website. A particularly effective use of Twitter is providing quick customer service by responding to concerns or negative feedback and helping customers solve problems.
You can also use Twitter to promote events and content, such as webinars, blog posts, case studies, press releases or podcasts. It can also provide a way to develop relationships with bloggers and journalists for potential media coverage and connect with influencers who have clout with buyers. Twitter reports that “nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer” and that 49% say they rely on influencers when looking for product recommendations.
Many buyers are actively using the platform to find products and services. 93% of people who follow small- and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to purchase from those businesses, and 69% have already purchased from them because of something they saw on Twitter. Additionally, many of them have come to expect customer service via the platform. 85% of small and medium business Twitter users say it’s important for businesses to provide customer service there.
Many solar contractors and developers are using Twitter to promote their businesses — from Sunnova and Vivint to Namaste Solar, Greenskies Solar and Solar Liberty. It has also become a popular platform for solar discussions. A 2015 study found that nearly 60% of renewable energy conversations on Twitter are about solar energy and, of all of the social media channels, Twitter hosts 55.7% of the conversations about solar.
Start with a strategy
Define your goals and metrics
Rather than simply tweeting and hoping for success, you want to think strategically. Define your target audience for your solar business and the topics they care about, as this should guide what you tweet about. Set specific goals and customize your posts accordingly. Goals could include securing leads, getting more site traffic, providing faster customer service, decreasing customer support costs, or building a following.
Depending on your goals, identify what metrics you’ll use to evaluate success. There are a number of ways to measure impact and refine your Twitter marketing plan. Some key metrics include reach (total number of followers), response rate (average number of user replies per tweet), brand awareness (how often your company is referenced) and sales conversions (number of visitors who visit your website from Twitter and convert to leads).
Some useful tools include Twitter lists to organize followers, Twitter analytics to monitor your company keywords and measure results, and Twitter advanced search to identify solar industry-specific terms and conversations. It can also be quite instructive to follow and analyze competitors.
Plan to review your Twitter strategy periodically to see how you can improve. Monitoring which topics, posting times and types of content (e.g. videos, polls, blog posts) perform best can help you refine your approach over time.
Plan what and when you’ll tweet
Create a schedule for how often, and at what times, you will tweet. Twitter tends to yield the best results if you tweet multiple times a day. However, start with what feels manageable given your available resources and always opt for quality over quantity. Three high-quality tweets per day are better than 15 lackluster, spammy ones. Tools like Hootsuite, TweetDeck or Buffer can help you schedule posts ahead of time and monitor the resulting activity.
Plan the timing of your tweets so they are spaced out throughout the day. Scheduling tweets at optimal times can increase engagement and click-throughs. Those times range based on various studies; some find that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tweets have higher click-through rates while others recommend weekdays between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Test how your tweets perform at different times and days to find what works best given your company’s target audience.
Recognize that the lifespan of a tweet is a lot shorter than other social posts, averaging about 18 minutes — four times shorter than a Facebook post. Therefore, it may take multiple posts for your message to gain traction. As a result, including multiple tweets about the same content, such as a recent blog post, can generate significant results. Just make sure to rephrase your message in each tweet and plan to intersperse these reposts with other topics.
Build a compelling profile
A compelling profile that presents your company well is important. Your Twitter handle (username) should be recognizable, easy to remember and short enough so it can be easily tagged (when someone places an @ symbol before your handle to alert you of a mention in a tweet). Be sure to make your Twitter handle easy to find by including it on your marketing materials, like your website, email signature and fleet.
Think about how to creatively use the header image to make your company Twitter page more memorable. Digital marketing expert Neil Patel suggests, “unleash your creativity and show off your brand message and personality, like Target” or Arise Solar do.
This advice applies to your 160-character bio as well. Keep the bio accurate and targeted, but include some personality or even humor along with an impressive statistic, relevant hashtags or tags to brands you are associated with.
“Optimize your bio to include a link back to your homepage or landing page where visitors can easily receive more information about your business and get on the email list,” recommends Aurora Solar social media consultant Joelle Smolarksi.
Smolarski also recommends the use of the pinned tweet, a selected tweet that always stays at the top of your feed. She says, “choose a pinned tweet that makes your company shine. If you have any videos about your company, one of those can be a great choice for a pinned tweet because any visitors to your page will see that first.”
Connect with engaging tweets
Although tweets can only be 280 characters long, they offer plenty of opportunity for engagement. Overall, you want to make sure your tweets are consistent with your company’s style, easy to read and designed to connect with your audience. Avoid using Twitter exclusively for direct promotion. As with all social media, you want to provide value and establish yourself as a trusted authority.
Investigate your followers’ Twitter feeds to understand their interests and concerns. Smolarski advises speaking directly to their questions. For example, if your audience often asks about solar financing options, you could tweet about various financing choices.
Multimedia like videos, images and GIFs can also significantly boost the impact and lifespan of your tweets. Tweets with images typically receive 89% more likes and videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than photos. Twitter video allows users to easily record new video from a device or upload existing videos. Make sure to opt for compelling, relevant and high-quality media, including blog or product images and infographics.
Creative call-to-actions (CTAs) are another way to elevate your tweets beyond a simple share request. Examples are “Follow us,” “Visit our site” or “Download here.”
Use hashtags to your advantage
Hashtags are an important part of effective Twitter use. This means using the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase to categorize the tweet so that it is more likely to show up when users search for that keyword. To use hashtags effectively, only include ones that add context to your tweets and consider capping them at about two per tweet.
Twitter analytics or a tool like Hashtagify can help you find the best hashtags for tweets. There are many solar-related hashtags like #solar, #renewables or #GoSolar that can help catch the attention of solar enthusiasts. Consider more specific hashtags for posts targeted at specific groups or related to specific events.
Build community through interaction
Fundamentally Twitter is a platform about sharing ideas, not just viewing content. Therefore make sure to create or join solar related dialogues by offering feedback, insights and compliments. Keep things conversational, interesting and even funny.
Actively foster interaction by retweeting (when you repost someone else’s tweet on your feed), liking and following others and asking others to do the same. When you retweet, add your own commentary to provide extra value.
Tagging others who have a Twitter account is also a great way to build community. Tagging when you share a quote works well, says Smolarski, because “the person quoted will likely retweet it, and that will extend the reach of your original tweet.” Additionally, certain kinds of tweets foster interaction, like ones that ask questions or include polls. These can be a great way to conduct market research, get product feedback, initiate engaging conversations and ultimately convert followers to leads.
Grab every opportunity to respond to users — and quickly. Responsiveness is the primary action that prompts consumers to make purchases, and research reveals that 42% of consumers expect a 60-minute response time on social media.
It’s also important to manage your followers in a way that reflects positively on your brand. Digital marketing company HubSpot recommends following back everyone who follows your company account, partly because it gives them the option to direct message (DM) you. Consider unfollowing overly provocative or negative accounts as they may reflect poorly on your company, as well as inactive and spammy followers.
Use personal and eye-catching content
Another effective way to use Twitter is to give followers insight into your company culture and the real people behind the brand. Smolarski recommends adding the personal touch with behind-the-scenes fun office news like a photo of your employees’ Halloween costumes or an announcement celebrating a long-standing employee’s notable work anniversary.
Tweet videos or photos in real time from trade shows or other events you are attending to inform and connect with current and prospective customers and build relationships. Include booth photos, keynote speaker quotes, useful slides from presentations and relevant hashtags.
While it does take consistent management and thoughtful strategy to excel at Twitter marketing, the long term rewards can be considerable. Like most social media platforms, Twitter can be a potent way to extend your reach, create fruitful relationships and share value.
About Aurora’s digital solar marketing series
This article is part of an ongoing series from Aurora Solar design and sales software, providing a guide for solar companies to develop a cohesive digital solar marketing strategy to connect with more customers. We explain the value offered by different digital marketing options and highlight concrete strategies to make the most of each.
Part 1 (Intro): Five ways digital solar marketing can grow your business
Part 7: How solar contractors can make the most of Twitter