Since 2009, I’ve posted my annual Solar Fred Marketing Wishes for the solar industry, and for 2016 I have one small but powerful wish: Let’s universally adopt SEIA’s #SolarIsNow hashtag for Twitter and other marketing materials instead of #GoSolar #GotSolar, and the many other solar calls to action out there.
I realize this is a big ask, so let me take a few paragraphs to explain why it’s an effective, symbolic, and versatile solar industry hashtag for every solar sector (including manufacturing). After that, I’ll offer some ideas how you can use #SolarIsNow to benefit your solar company’s marketing efforts—as well as the entire industry.
Why #SolarIsNow is Relevant…Now
Originally, #SolarIsNow was created for SEIA’s investment tax credit (ITC) extension campaign. Even though that campaign was successful (thanks, SEIA!), here’s why the hashtag is a concise yet tremendously relevant call-to-action tagline for solar marketers and advocates:
- The costs of solar manufacturing, components, and installation have dropped significantly and will continue to fall. With Deutsche Bank predicting that solar PV will be at grid parity in parts of the U.S. in 2016, #SolarIsNow ready to be installed in most grid-tied areas.
- With the solar ITC firmly in place for the next five years, many solar business uncertainties have been removed. #SolarIsNow prepared to compete subsidy-free by 2020 and grow dramatically in all sectors through 2020.
- With the EPA’s Clean Power Plan being implemented, #SolarIsNow ready (along with wind and storage) to help utilities replace their aging and polluting fossil-fuel plants.
- With the successful climate agreement signed at COP21, #SolarIsNow willing and able to accelerate climate change action and start our evolution to a non-carbon energy economy.
- With the U.S. solar industry employing some 209,000 workers and growing at a 20 percent clip, the sector has clearly proven itself as a job creation engine. In fact, if you know coal, gas, and oil workers who are concerned about their livelihoods, tell them #SolarIsNow ready to retrain them for a new career that will not only provide clean energy today, but also protect the world for their children.
As for using #GoSolar and #GotSolar?, neither hashtag has ever been part of an official advocacy campaign by any organization or company, and they have other issues that makes them ready to be retired.
#GoSolar is also overused to the point that people are beginning to ignore the phrase, just as people eventually tune out oversaturated advertising. Even the most successful ad campaigns get refreshed, and it’s unclear whether this tagline was ever effective or even a real campaign.
As for #GotSolar?, it’s a derivative tagline from the famous “Got Milk?” campaign. The solar industry can and should be more original than that. We need something that is our own and meaningful for all B2B and B2C sectors of the industry. For the reasons stated above, #SolarIsNow fulfills those two basic requirements.
How to Use #SolarIsNow in Your Solar Marketing Efforts in 2016 and Beyond
Assuming that you agree with all of the above, you may be thinking, “How can I use #SolarIsNow to help my solar marketing and generate more business?”
I have a few suggestions, but first let’s set some expectations: A hashtag campaign isn’t a miracle lead generator, but it is an issue and brand awareness tactic. It’s a call-to-action that allows your company and organization to be part of a solar social media movement. The more we all participate, the more the movement will spread. For example:.
- Use #SolarIsNow as a time-sensitive sales tactic. Whether you’re selling solar components or installations, you can use #SolarIsNow as a sales code for customers to benefit from a limited-time offer. Make sure you call attention to one of the above talking points for why you’re using that code.
- Use #SolarIsNow to show customers why it’s time to stop waiting to go solar. Have some old, cold sales leads? Many solar installers come across potential customers who want to wait for technology, financing, or pricing to get better. Write a blog post or an op-ed for your local paper or develop an email campaign that explains why solar has become the new smartphone and that your customers should stop waiting for upgrades on their old flip phones. You can point to the one million mark of installations or the lowest pricing in history, or to the fact that the military and NASA think that solar is reliable and essential.
- Use #SolarIsNow as your standard social media hashtag. Whether you blog regularly or send email campaigns and direct mail, you can use #SolarIsNow at the end of your posts to emphasize that solar energy has come into its own. Doing so will underscore this important solar advocacy theme to your followers, especially those who’ve been waiting to go solar.
- Use #SolarIsNow as part of image captions for installations and videos. Nothing says that solar is real and mainstream like images of your solar installations. Place the hashtag under your logo as a standard practice.
- Write a local op-ed to with the #SolarIsNow theme. Especially during these times when solar is being evaluated by public utility commissions, you can call attention to solar and your company by writing your own #SolarIsNow opinion piece for your local newspaper or radio program. Stress how solar is reliable and affordable, and how it benefits your region and your community.
There are plenty of other ideas for #SolarIsNow—and please feel free to share some via comments on this post–but the bottom line is that we should be unified and use one hashtag for at least the next few years to emphasize solar is here to stay.
With that in mind, #SolarIsNow—and so is your next solar marketing campaign idea.
Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza is the chief marketing officer of solar at Impress Labs and the author of Solar Fred’s Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at @SolarFred and @Solar_ThinkTank.