I rarely write about Facebook solar marketing because the Facebook interface and its rules and tools for brand sharing and advertising change often. In a month, the information becomes old and needs to be revised. That being said, there are two basic core strategies that won’t be affected by whatever changes Facebook decides to do next week or next year.
First, some caveats:
I’m addressing marketing solar PV and thermal to consumers, not to solar pros. If you’re a solar manufacturer or solar service marketing to the solar industry, Facebook presently isn’t for you. You won’t need Facebook for anything more than using it for extra SEO backlinks. Post press releases, media mentions, and your blog, if you have one.
Speaking of your blog, you must have a blog for these strategies to work. I will bang this over the head to solar marketers over and over again: You need a blog, not only for Facebook solar marketing, but also Twitter, LinkedIn and just about any other social network. And that bang on the head goes to industry marketers on LinkedIn, too. Enough said.
Third, you need patience. The two core strategies below aren’t instant, but they do build a high level of trust and brand enthusiasm over time. If you want instant, just spend lots of money on Facebook advertising. I will never say that advertising doesn't work, but it takes a lot of cash to get worthwhile results. With a lot of money, you can spray your message to a huge list of people who don’t care about your company or solar; a tiny percentage will care to click on your ad, and an even smaller percentage of those visitors will fill out a contact form…hopefully. With social media, people actually choose to "like" your brand's page for free. Nice.
Core strategy #1: Use Facebook to build fans, not sales.
If you don't have fans ("likes") on your Facebook page, start by requesting that every employee like the company's page and recommend it to their friends. Don't make this mandatory, but one hopes that your employees are proud of where they work and are willing to spread the word about your brand.
Now that you have some likes on the page besides you and your mother, that's where the blog comes in. Your blog is going to be (or should be) filled with all sorts of useful solar information, especially those pesky solar FAQs. Your strategy is to disseminate that great information onto your Facebook page and turn it into a forum about solar energy and solar costs. Now that you've got some good content up there, use these engagement tips:
The point for this strategy is not to sell, but to educate and to engage. The people reading these posts may never buy a solar system, but if you engage them in a friendly, fun, and thoughtful way, they will remember your solar brand and your information. Then when a colleague or friend mentions in passing that they’re thinking about going solar, chances are that your Facebook follower is going to think of you first, and all about your wonderful solar info that you’ve been giving. People also like to share interesting things, so once again, that's where your blog content should come in. Pressing one button can share that post many times over.
In terms of advertising, Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to post ads on the pages of your fans. It’s something along the lines of: “Jane Doe likes Solar Land.” Use this ad platform as a complement to strategy #1. You still need to spend money, but less than with no blog content.
Of course there’s a lot more details to this. You’re going to have to go deeper by yourself. I’ll just add that if you do the above with a “How can I help?” marketing attitude rather than a “How can I sell?” your time and efforts will be rewarded with sales and referrals.
Core strategy #2: Use a Facebook tab or subpage as a specific solar referral forum.
Facebook allows you to create separate “tabs” on your page. So, it’s the same page, but there’s a subpage. Create one and call it “The solar success team,” or something like that. Creating tabs can be a little technical, so if you’d rather not deal with that, then just create an entirely new Facebook page for your solar referral program.
If you have an established referral program where you give referrers several hundred dollars for every closed sale, send these participants an email to "like" this new referral page or to add the tab to the user’s interests. If you don’t have a referral program, shame on you. Create one. Typically, residential installers offer around $500 for every closed sale referred.
Your referral team will usually come from satisfied solar customers who are looking to make some extra income for referring friends, families, and colleagues. In addition to satisfied customers, you might also advertise for team members on your city's Craigs List and college newspaper classifieds. Why local college classifieds? Because college kids need extra income and they know how to share information on social media.
So, now you have a specific page for part time sales people who are motivated to share your blogs and other seasonal incentives with their friends and family. Once again, be sure to make the team add the page to their Facebook interests. You’re going to use this page to specifically motivate and communicate to them. Facebook makes it easy for them receive those communications and to share relevant posts with their friends and family.
On this specific referral team page/tab, you’ll be:
Once again, it’s most effective when page likers/members are in the same city. There are ways to stretch this concept across regions, but I won’t get into that here.
No matter what Facebook does, these two core strategies will essentially remain the same. Both are based on the useful solar content you create on your blog, Youtube, etc, and building strong, trusted, brand relationships with customers and your referral team.
That's it for this week. On a Thanksgiving note, thank you for reading and sharing my posts throughout the years. Have a safe holiday, come back rested, and may you all continue… to UnThink Solar.
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Want more solar marketing info? Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact Solar Fred through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.
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.