A recent post in the Social Media Examiner examined the “9 Reasons Why Your Content Is Not Shared on Social Networks.” All good stuff , but one reason stood out because it touches on a couple of factors that shape how green technology companies do business and how they’re perceived online.
The highlight for me in SME’s listicle was number 4:
People care about causes more than brands
The New York Times found that people are more likely to share about something they are passionate about.
Let’s face it. People rarely wake up wondering what they can do for XYZ brand today. But they do dream of ways to help their favorite cause. Whether it’s ending poverty, supporting Greenpeace or advancing a local charity, many people give sacrificially to help things they care about.
What sells the little factoid (to this eco-geek, at least) is a screenshot of Cree’s Lighting the LED Revolution campaign, which involves a lot of stuff that matters to techies. For starters, it’s about LEDs, the neat technology that’s driving innovation in the lighting industry, from fixtures for the average home to dramatic installations in museums, landmarks and businesses. So hot is the tech that it’s lighting up September’s issue of Wired. Plus, you can’t discuss about LED without mentioning their knack for energy savings.
But does this all constitute a cause?
SEM rightly points out that Cree’s “cause” lacks a humanitarian aspect, one that does a better job at tugging at the heartstrings or sparking outrage. Knowing this, perhaps, the company embedded on its site a clever timer that’s counting down the days until sales of most incandescent light bulbs are banned. It lends the whole affair a little bit of urgency while reinforcing the timeliness of Cree’s LED Revolution.
It helps, too, that Cree can speak to both an increasingly eco-minded public and businesses alike. Take the company’s post on the Liberty Science Center, a fun educational institution that sits across the NYC skyline in Jersey City, NJ. Cree’s tech illuminates many of the center’s exhibits in a manner that saves power and limits associated carbon emissions, which is notable in and of itself. But if the reader is a the business owner or facilities manager, it’s the savings of an “estimated $119,825 per year in energy and maintenance costs” that’s a cause worth getting behind, maybe enough to earn a Facebook “like” or a retweet on Twitter.
Amex’s Open Forum as a social media “cause” celebre
One example of creating a following by supporting a cause of sorts is American Express and its Open Forum site aimed at small businesses. Though the reasons why American Express would want to spearhead a community of business owners are obvious, the site is socially driven and not pushy when it comes to the mothership’s marketing. In this case, American Express invested in positioning itself squarely as a supporter of small businesses. The cause: helping them succeed.
That’s likely why its Facebook Page boasts over 209,000 “likes” — a figure approaching 10 percent of the parent’s 2.1 million “likes” — while its Twitter account (@OPENForum) is followed by over 47,000 people. Not shabby at all, but is this strategy working in social media? Judging by its retweet rank, it is.
@OPENForum is listed as the 4,849th most influential user on Twitter by Retweetrank.com (out of roughly 200 millions users depending on whose estimates you believe) while its parent @americanexpress ranks at a comparatively abysmal 24,237th place.
Moral of the story: For social media success, don’t just drown folks in product info and how awesome your company is. Show them how you fit into the causes that matter to them. Better yet, actively support them. For cleantech firms, showcasing how you’re caring for the environment and keeping businesses costs low are pretty big, hard-to-miss targets. So why ignore them?
Image credit: Flickr user Ibai Lemon – Creative Commons