If you gave someone a hammer, nails, a load of 2x4’s, and a circular saw and then told them to build a house, a skilled carpenter could build a decent house. The same is true with solar social media and the people who manage those accounts. Just being active on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin doesn’t automatically create solar leads or success. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are virtual marketing hammers and saws, and one needs to know how to use them skillfully.
So, if you’re going to include social media in your marketing plans, whether B to B or residential, here are 5 traits to look for:
#1 A successful social media manager should be educated about solar technology, economics, and your audience. The great comedian and columnist Will Rogers once said that in order to be successful, you must love what you’re doing, believe in what you’re doing, and know what you’re doing. Sometimes I find that solar social media mangers are barely educated about solar technology, economics, or industry concerns. As a result of being uneducated, their Tweets, blog posts, and comments are often so general that they are accurate, but ineffective. So make sure the people behind your social media accounts know your company, your products/services, and customers. They should be able to offer useful solar info and accurately answer customer questions. If they don’t, it’s actually the company's fault for assuming that they’ll eventually get it and learn it all on their own. The simple solution is making sure these people take introductory solar courses. They're not just for installers.
#2 A successful solar social media manager is customer service oriented, not sales oriented. If all you do is Tweet about sales and getting a solar quote... over and over again, you’re essentially just a spammer. Buying a Facebook or Twitter ad will be less annoying (and just as ineffective). It’s the same idea for posts on Facebook and LinkedIn groups. The social media manager’s goals are to build brand awareness, brand relationships, provide customer service, and eventually create leads directly or through referrals. They’re not supposed to close sales, however. That’s the sales person’s job.
#3 A successful solar social media manager knows how to build supporters and communities. Related to number 2, but more specific. I know a lot of successful solar social media mangers, and it’s not because we’ve met. We all understand how to communicate, support each other and spread useful solar information. In some cases, we’re competitors, yet we still support each other's Tweets and posts. If you’re having trouble with this concept, go see that old Christmas movie Miracle on 34th St again, and pay attention to the Macy’s vs. Gimble’s scene. It’s the same concept on social networks.
#4 A successful solar social media manager comments and asks followers questions. To build strong social networking relationships, you not only have to provide useful info, but you have to be interested in your follower’s goals and interests too. So, comment on their Tweets and posts. Don’t just repost or RT. In addition, ask relevant questions. People love a chance to answer trivia, as well as provide solutions and join a conversation about a hot solar topic, such as Solyndra or other solar industry trends. Commenting and asking questions are just one part of an overall strategy that every social media manager should have.
#5 A successful solar social media manager is creative. You could mechanically follow all of the above steps, but if you don’t imbue your social networks with a unique “voice,” and creative community building ideas, then even your most useful, helpful solar info will fall flat. So, as much as a person represents a solar brand, it’s important for him or her to be themselves. For marketing managers afraid of letting individual personalities come through a company's social networks, just follow this rule of thumb: If you like and trust the social media manager, then chances are other customers and followers will too. So let ‘em loose and let their positive personalities shine through with a long leash. If there are several people managing your various networks, then agree on a company “voice” or “personality,” and then make sure the entire team knows how to mimic that agreed-to personality. Customers relate to people, not logos and icons.
I've often said in past posts that social media isn't easy. It takes consistent time and effort, and it also takes a certain skill-set. So, support your social media managers with comprehensive solar knowledge, and then trust them ... to UnThink Solar.
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