When planning a social media strategy for renewable energy companies, corporate communications professionals need to examine not just the overall public perception and opinion of the industry but rather how its audience receives and shares information. In this highly regulated and often politically charged industry, news and information can take on a life of its own if not carefully monitored and cultivated. Fortunately, social media pioneers embraced the field of renewable energy early on with legions of bloggers, both advocates and commentators, seeking new information to share.
With so much governmental and private funding being funneled into green energy companies, the market has exponentially grown in the past decade. And with that so has debate about the future of renewable energy development and consumption in the US.
Unlike more conventional sources of energy, biofuel and renewable energy providers are in a constant state of flux, which creates a constantly growing and changing industry. As a result of this constant state of change, developing social media and public relations content should also remain fluid in the way it addresses situations, announcements and company milestones. Not every digital or social platform will be right for every company.
Due to the nature of the industry, its imperative to carefully select which platforms reach the audience you seek to inform and influence and what type of information you want these audiences to know and share.
When selecting digital platforms, think about placing your choices in two main categories: educate and inform vs. cultivate and engage. A website can educate and inform, as can several social media properties like LinkedIn and YouTube, but other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are stronger channels for cultivating and engaging audiences. These mediums should be reserved for content and campaigns that more directly call for consumer engagement and may not be as time sensitive.
There are a number of leaders in this space that have successfully combined traditional public relations and social media by utilizing differnt channels in ways that fit their communications strategies and company cultures. Renewable Energy Group, a biofuel company based in the United States, does it with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. They utilize a combination of videos, news posts, and general info updates but have chosen not to engage in a company blog. Another company, Green Plains Renewable Energy, has strong web assets with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and monthly blog postings. The SunPower Corporation is another example of an energy company leveraging content across multiple digital properties including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest.
Bottom line, every company uses different tools to communicate, inform, educate and engage. Their interactions span the use of multiple social media channels to engage in a dialogue with customers, advocates, critics and the general public, to relying solely on their website to simply broadcast their activities.
Getting the content development and communication strategy right depends upon a number of factors, including the industry, regulatory environment, corporate culture and educational needs of customers and other stakeholders. Having an experienced communications team available can help determine the best way forward for your company.