From cat videos to selfies to overly-impassioned political posts from that person you were sort of friends with in high school, social media has changed the way so many of us communicate.
It has also changed the way so many businesses communicate and market to their customers.
While using social media for business is nothing new, what is new is the growing list of industries that can benefit from a cohesive social media marketing strategy. Over the past decade, the demographics of social media users have changed. And guess what? Those demographics include your customers and your potential customers.
Are Your Customers Using Social Media?
According to a 2019 study by Pew Research, seven in ten Americans use at least one social media platform. Of that, a whopping 82% are aged 30-49 and 69% are 50-64.
What makes those numbers even more impressive is the frequency that those users are logging on and scrolling through their feed.
According to the same Pew study, 74% of Facebook users browse their timeline on a daily basis. Additionally, 63% of Instagram users, 42% of Twitter users, and 51% of YouTube users engage with their profiles on a daily basis. That means your messaging on social media is going to be seen by the right people and it’s going to be seen fairly often.
One more nugget to glean from Pew Research’s study is the diversity represented by social media users in things like education, income level, and location.
Those demographics include decision-makers at businesses who are likely looking for ways to cut their overhead. It includes discerning homeowners looking to reduce their monthly expenses. It includes people who are frustrated with how much they’re paying for electricity and need to know that there’s a solution.
No matter what your niche is in the solar panel market, chances are, a large portion of your customers are actively using social media outlets, and they’re using them often.
Whether you’re trying to reach enthusiastic homeowners on Pinterest or busy business professionals on LinkedIn, the audience is there, and a social media marketing strategy is going to help you sell them solar energy.
How Will Social Media Help Me Sell Solar?
1. A Strong Social Media Presence Builds Credibility
88% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchasing decision, according to a 2017 Ecommerce study.
What do your leads find when they look up your business?
While your website will likely be at the top of the list, it’s safe to say they’ll also find your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other platform you’re using. Being absent from these popular channels, or having profiles but rarely posting on them, won’t do you any favours.
However, having a strong presence on multiple channels can instill trust in your brand. If visitors to your social pages see pictures of projects you’ve completed, reviews from happy customers, and you actively engaging with others on behalf of your company, they’ll get a feel for the personality of your business and your level of caring and expertise. If they like what they see, they’ll feel connected to you and trust you. These are important factors for customers looking for a solar installer.
After all, they’re choosing a company that will have access to their home or business. They’re trusting them to install a solar system with complex electrical hook-ups that should last for decades and is a substantial investment. If things go wrong, it could strain their job or personal finances.
If your social media profiles paint the picture of an attentive, well-informed company with happy customers, that’s going to make prospects feel a lot more comfortable with your company than if they hadn’t seen that.
2. Social Media Can Connect You to New Prospects
In every industry, the aim of digital marketing is to spread the word about a brand via the internet. It’s offered advertisers the ability to get their message to a relevant audience in an unprecedented way. And when it comes to getting in front of that targeted audience, social media platforms have the data to get you there.
However, access to this data doesn’t come for free.
Before 2016, social media marketers were able to post their company’s content and see it organically mix in with the posts from their audience’s friends and families. However, the days of free or cheap social media marketing came to a halt in 2016.
That year, Facebook changed its algorithm so that posts shared by family and friends would get prioritized over posts shared by businesses. That means fewer eyes on your company’s content.
To overcome this, brands have been pushed towards sponsoring their posts, which allows them to use the social media platform’s marketing data to target who those sponsored posts reach. These paid posts intermingle frequently with friends’ and family members’ posts on users’ timelines.
Regardless of the platform that is best for your business, social media networks allow you to pay for posts so they get in front of the people who you want to convert from a prospect to a lead to a customer.
Make people browsing their newsfeed aware that they have a problem and offer your company as the solution to that problem. You’ll grow your fan base and your sales by reaching relevant people. Many platforms also offer the ability to A/B test your posts, so you can learn what kind of content works best for your business.
Pro Tip: The more engagement your posts get the better! Encourage your employees to like, comment, and share your company’s posts to spread its reach.
3. Social Media Puts a Spotlight on Your Content
Building credibility and connecting with new customers – there’s no downside to either of those things. However, how well you accomplish those things does hinge on one primary factor – the quality and relevance of the content you’re sharing.
Solar installers will see the best ROI from their social media efforts if they’re sharing content that conveys these three things:
- Their brand and company culture
- Information that is educational and helpful to potential customers
- Content that encourages engagement
Ever see this?
The Buyer’s Journey is the model that shows how customers progress from the time they first have a problem to the minute they’re ready to act on a solution to that problem.
Craft your content with this model in mind, understanding that you’ll always be interacting with people in different stages. Post content that focuses on each stage to ensure you’re ushering along with old leads while also welcoming in new ones.
If you’re already producing great content but you’re just letting it sit on your website without promoting it, you’re missing out on a lot of great traffic! Even if you work for one of the solar companies that constantly rank on Google’s first page (if that’s you, please send me an email with your secrets) you can stand to benefit from promoting your content more. You can learn more about how to rank your solar company on the first page of Google using SEO here.
Writing and producing the content is just half the battle. Promoting it and getting it out to people is just as important. And if you’re not one of the installers whose content is constantly ranked on the first page, the more traffic your content gets from social media, it’s likely that it will rank in a higher position on the search engine results page of Google or Bing.
Related article: Solar Buyer Personas: How to Profile Your Ideal PV Customers?
4. Social Media Keeps You in Touch with Past Customers
Once you build a following, you’ll find that a good portion of those who interact with your brand on social media are past customers.
While for many, solar is a one-time purchase, but it’s also a purchase that continues to delight its owners with each year of free electricity it generates. Tapping into past customers and keeping them close is extremely important.
While keeping them happy and engaged with your brand won’t make them buy another solar system (in most cases), their authentic opinion of your business and of solar energy itself may help inspire others to take action with your company.
And by staying in front of them on their newsfeeds, they won’t forget about you. This can come in handy for word of mouth marketing and referrals as they talk about their solar system and your company to others who are interested in it.
Additionally, platforms like Facebook allow users to leave reviews, which is a very authentic and public way for a happy customer to gush about how great their solar installation was.
Social media is one of the best ways to authentically show social proof to your customers.
5. Position Your Brand as the Solar Expert on Social Media
Trust and conveying expertise is extremely important for solar installers. Customers are investing a relatively large sum of money with the hopes that in a few years’ time, their solar system will have paid for itself and still have plenty of life left to churn out free electricity.
Customers need to know that by working with your company, they’re getting a team of people who know their stuff. There are plenty of solar horror stories out there – like Walmart’s rooftop fires. By sharing industry news, tips, and answering common questions, you’ll be showing everyone who is watching that your team knows its stuff.
The more consistently you share helpful information that’s easy to understand and entertaining, the more your audience will see you as the go-to source for all things solar energy.
6. Use Social Media to Engage with the Community
When developing your strategy, remember the “social” in social media. Unlike print ads and sponsorships, your customers can directly connect with your company.
Create content that encourages discussions and questions. A pros and cons analysis and “Thing 1 vs. Thing 2” are great formats to encourage debates between users.
While public comments about and to your brand can send some running for the hills, there are plenty of resources out there for how to best handle the solar haters. Just remember to stay calm, but don’t be afraid to push back and defend solar energy or your company.
While the level of “sass” your rebuttals should have is dependent on your specific brand (Wendy’s Twitter strategy won’t work for everyone), keep things light but informative. Even negative or challenging comments help boost your social media post’s reach, and you’ll be able to flex some of that solar knowledge for the world to see.
7. Gain Insight on Marketing Spend and ROI
One of the most exciting and rewarding things about digital marketing, and social media marketing specifically, is the ability it gives marketers to track the returns. An advertisement in a newspaper may generate 100 leads, or it may generate 0 leads, you’ll likely never know. With a sponsored post on Facebook, however, you’ll be able to set up tracking so that you can tell how many customers convert from that post.
Not only does this help you defend your budget and make your team look great to leadership during budget discussions, but it gives you valuable insight into how your customers interact with what you’re putting out. You can see what is working well and what needs to be changed, so you can spend your budget in the most efficient way possible.
While LinkedIn may be great for collecting emails with an ebook download, Facebook might be what’s driving your social media conversions. Either way, you’ll know what is working well for your company on each channel.
Getting More Solar Leads with Social Media
While the goal of advertising will always be to get the most convincing message in front of the most relevant audience, social media marketing has changed how solar companies can do this.
From instilling trust in your brand to showing people there is a solution to their high energy bills, a strong social media presence is a great way to reach the people your business needs to reach. Creating and sharing great content that engages your audience keeps people interested and excited. While a strong social media marketing strategy won’t come for free, you will be equipped with the tools to determine how much your investment is paying off.
Whether someone is interested in solar for its freedom from electricity bills, the tax savings, or the environmental impact, you can use social media to find them and convert them into a sale.
Related article: Digital Marketing Strategy to Increase your Solar Leads
Sara Gambone works as a marketing specialist for Paradise Energy Solutions, a regional solar installation company. She lives to create content that communicates solar energy’s ability to not only save so many people money, but more importantly, save the planet.