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Social Media Marketing for Cleantech Companies

Denis Du Bois's advice on social media marketing aired on the "Inside Renewable Energy" program from New Hampshire this morning.

"Should our company be on Facebook? Should we tweet? Or start a blog?"

I help answer those questions in a commentary I did on Stephen Lacey's program for renewable energy industry insiders.

Social media is a new chapter in a familiar marketing book. In the commentary I recommend four homework assignments before rushing out on the dance floor to do the Twitter.

Inside Renewable Energy podcast:
"Renewable Energy 2.0: The Value of Online Marketing" (about 14 minutes into the program)

UPDATE: By popular demand, here's the transcript:

STEPHEN LACEY: That brings us to the next step, and that's looking at the tools out there for companies in this space. It's a vast landscape out there, and companies are asking...

DENIS DUBOIS: "Should our company be on Facebook? Should we tweet? Or start a blog?" ...

As a marketer I hear these questions a lot. If you're with a cleantech company that's asking these questions, the answer is no, not yet. Not until you do some homework!

STEPHEN: Denis Du Bois is Editor of Energy Priorities Magazine and host of the Energy Priorities podcast.

DENIS: The buzz around Twitter and Facebook make it seem like social media is all about the latest technology. The technology's new, but social media isn't.

And it's not about some totally new kind of interaction. For 25 years, people have enjoyed talking to each other online, and that's what social media is.

Technology has made online communities more accessible, and it's no surprise they're growing very fast. We all have the internet in our pockets now, and with today's job market -- well, how many more LinkedIn connections do you have now, compared to the end of 2008.

But we're talking about the business use of social media. If you just run out onto the dance floor and start to do the twitter, you're likely to step on your own toes. So before you tweet, do these four things first...

Assignment number one: Know what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to build brand loyalty? Get leads, or crowd-source product ideas? Advocate for a particular energy policy? jot your objectives on the board.

Assignment number two: Ask your customers offline about their social media habits.

Why offline? Readers outnumber writers by a wide margin. Reading blogs won't tell you who else is just reading them too.

You can see from someone's LinkedIn profile that they belong to some renewable energy groups, but you can't tell whether they ever look at them. You find that out by asking your customers.

Assignment number three: Show up online. In some markets, people join mailing lists; in others, they might use Twitter.

You need to find out where and how your market is talking, and what they're talking about.

Make a list of the online communities where your audience is interacting. Try to figure out who's doing the talking, and how many are actually listening.

Score the communities you find - by quality, how active they are, and how well they meet your objectives.

Assignment number four: Metrics. Go ahead and join those discussions if they're a fit for you. But don't put a lot of effort into anything until you know how you'll measure success. Write that on the board next to your goals.

Should your company be on Facebook? or start a blog?

Now you're ready to answer those questions.

STEPHEN: Denis Du Bois is answering all kinds of questions about marketing, sustainability and clean energy, at energypriorities.com.