One reason why solar companies don’t blog regularly — or at all — is that they believe that it can be a lot of effort for a small audience that may just happen upon the post. Wrong, wrong, wrong, in so many ways, wrong. People don't happen upon blogs accidentally. Most often, you have to go to where your customers are first.
Let’s be clear that you do have to write useful information in every blog post. No matter what your solar product or service is, if all you’re doing is re-posting press releases and the occasional photo of your latest megawatt project or minor-watt project, these PR nuggets are typically not useful to customers. They’re either too formally written or too self-promotional, or both.
But let’s assume you understand and practice the principals of great solar blog content, and you’ve now published it on your site. Excellent, but don't kick up your feet just yet. Now you must actively distribute that content throughout social media land. Where? Here are the 10 most useful places to seed great solar content:
1) RSS Feed. Most if not all social networks and article aggregation websites use “Really Simple Syndication” (RSS) to feed posts and news into Google Reader and similar web reading programs. RSS can also enable automatic publishing of your blog posts to other social networks. Most blogging platforms have RSS enabled by default, but make sure yours is on.
2) Facebook. Regardless of your market, every company should have a Facebook page, but don’t be shy. Post blogs on your personal page if it’s useful/interesting solar info. Your friends will know that you're the solar go-to person and recommend you to others. Your Facebook page is a great way to start a conversation with your blog post and build fans and referrals. That being said, at this point, Facebook is best for the residential world. But if you're in the B-to-B world, don’t panic, because there are several Solar B-to-B equivalents. Oh, and by the way, there's a Facebook "widget" that can automatically publish your websites's blog post to your Facebook page via... RSS.
3) LinkedIn. LinkedIn is geared toward the “professional” world. Do you know how many solar, environmental, and energy “groups” are now on LinkedIn? Plenty. Heck, you can create your own group, but don’t. Too many. Instead, post your industry-thought-leading blog post on selected solar groups and start a discussion. Like Facebook, your blog posts can automatically show up on your own group or personal profile through RSS, but you have to manually post the link if you don't manage the group.
4) Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, especially in the solar B-to-B world, you’re missing out on a huge and vibrant solar community. Tweeting your latest blog post is a great way to spread your brand and build authority, plus drive traffic back to your website. Google likes that, by the way. Twitter works with the residential solar world too, but you have to learn how to find and connect with Twitter consumers without spamming them. As with Facebook and LinkedIn, you can use certain social media platforms that automatically feed your latest blog post to Twitter.
Let me stop here. Automation is nice, but it's also very impersonal. You have to personally invest some time in these communities too. Otherwise, people may ignore your posts, even if they contain valuable solar information. Now back to our list:
5) Renewable Energy World. Want to know where lots of solar industry people come to read the latest and most useful solar info? You’re on that site now. Republish your blog post here on Renewable Energy World, especially if you're in the solar product world. If your posts are well written and informative, the editors may, at their discretion, "feature" your blog post, giving you and your company extra exposure to thousands of solar industry readers. In any case, whether or not you're featured, your posts are still picked up in Google News, giving your brand more SEO exposure.
6) Pick a social bookmarking site. Ever heard of Stumbleupon, Reddit, or Digg? These are called social bookmarking sites. Post your blog post there under their respective environmental categories. (There's a specific solar category on Reddit.). It’s more effective if you can participate in their respective “communities” and comment on other solar submissions, but even if you just post it and leave it, you’re building link SEO juice that will help boost your Google page rank.
7) Google+. Speaking of Google, the search giant recently created its own Facebook knock-off called Google+. I haven’t had time to explore its advantages over Facebook, but once again, it can’t hurt to create a company page and publish it there for link SEO mojo. For now, Google+ is a minor social media player, but word in the social media world is that it's growing....slowly. So, be aware, but don't spend a lot of time there yet.
8) Local news. Yes, local newspapers do still exist, and they occasionally publish useful content from readers. If your blog post has a unique voice or angle with, once again, useful solar information or energy politics information, bless you. Contact an editor and perhaps you’ll get at least one post published in the paper. I think this tactic is most effective and successful in smaller cities and towns with local readers. However, there are also online local newspapers, such as The Examiner. This portal publishes articles for various cities across the U.S. The editor for each city seeks content for certain categories, but you can also suggest categories. Suggest solar for your city, and see what happens. As long as your blog posts are educational and not self promotional, there's a good chance you'll be accepted, and bingo, you're a local solar expert (with a link back to your website.)
9) SolarFeeds.com SolarFeeds is the #1 re-purpose portal for solar blog posts. Sign up for free, and the site will feed your blog automatically through your RSS feed. SolarFeeds also seeds select posts through its own Twitter and Facebook networks, so publishing there may also spread your content further. It's a good portal for B-to-B or consumer info, so it’s just one more way to spread the good solar word.
10) E-newsletters. Once a month, publish the first paragraph of each blog post in a customer/prospect e-newsletter. Have a “Read More” link back to the post on your website. Most email service providers include analytics to tell you which blog posts people clicked. Use that info to write similarly themed posts. As for building your list, make sure you have a signup link on your website, but whatever you do, DO NOT BUY LISTS. They're a waste of money, it's unethical to spam people who never asked for your info, plus, your e-newsletter provider will quickly find out through people marking your newsletter as spam. They then will ban you from the service and tell other services that you're a spammer. Not good.
There are many more ways to repurpose your blog posts. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below. Regardless of your choices, you really do have to put in the time to build a following and community. Unless you have a dedicated social media person, you can’t do all of them, so pick just a few of the above and give these platforms your thoughtful attention and effort.
I know what you’re asking: "Great, Solar Fred, but is there an ROI to all of this work?" You bet. Blogging and the effective dissemination of your blog posts builds brand authority and awareness, generates leads, improves search rankings, and inspires referrals. It's just one more way... to UnThink Solar.
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.