By Gary Survis
July 30, 2009
Online social networking has developed into a paperless portal for the green business community. Connecting millions of users, sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are becoming popular communications media for businesses. The emergence of blogging, Twitter streams, and a steady flow of current information and links are helping individuals and companies stay connected. Especially in the “sustainability community,” people are sharing information, ideas, and facts regarding eco-friendly business practices.
As the green movement penetrates the virtual world, the greatest minds are pooling solutions together into one vast internet resource. Recently revealed on social media sites were a solar-powered plane, an energy efficient escalator, and even a biodegradable SunChips bag. Bringing together small and large scale ideas is helping to build a growing sustainable online community. Sharing information is helping newcomers adopt and understand green practices easily. Eco-Business is thriving because of the shared efforts of this virtual green community.
More than any other tool, Twitter has connected a diverse group of eco-businesses with their markets. With only 140 characters, the pithy comments, observations, and recommendation of followers broadens the reach of businesses focusing on the green market. For example, at a recent green trade show, Go Green Expo in Atlanta, Mariel Hemingway’s eco-observations were being tweeted to a broad group of green conscious consumers. Another speaker, Ralph Avallon of the Green Energy Council was tweeted saying, “The planet will renew itself, but humans have accelerated their own extinction.” As listeners utilize social media tools during speeches, conferences, events and tradeshows, they are able to share valuable insights from speakers and products seen with a large interested group while building their own personal and business brands.
As your brand becomes more recognized, gaining quality followers can help your company reach an even larger audience. Becoming connected with influencers who have a large group of followers, such as Whole Foods 450,000 followers, can virally promote your brand to a massive audience. By simply having an influencer “retweet” or repost your message to their group of followers, your brand will be exposed to a pre-qualified group of interested readers.
Becoming an active member in the online community can help build a sustainable brand, but does require being practical and authentic. People who aggressively “sell” via social media are usually not welcomed by the social media community. But, as in real life, those who are sincere, knowledgeable and interesting can easily acquire a following.
Social networking sites can be viewed as tools to help shape the public image of your green company. By putting time and effort into creating virtual social capital, a business can develop trust with customers at an early stage. For example, businesses that are “greening” their operations can utilize blogging and similar tools to promote their progress to an interested community. As sustainable practices grow, businesses involved in online social networking can share great ideas, track progress, and further assist in the green movement.
Here are a few quick tips to begin leveraging the power of social networking on your eco-business:
Broadcast your presence. Use your business logo as your profile picture and encourage people to follow your progress by placing links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter page on the bottom of emails, at presentations, or on advertisements.
Find a focus area. Choose particular groups that complement your business focus, i.e. “green” or “sustainable office products.” Offer constant updates on the whereabouts, events attended, and the progress of your company. To stimulate more visitors to your profile, post engaging articles.
Be consistent. As your personal page becomes a steady source of information for others, keep up with your pace. You can’t disappear for days at a time and then expect people to remember why you were important. Stay connected, maintain consistency, and watch your influence grow.
Track your progress. Many sites help you measure your reach or see how many people have seen your company’s posts. The more you post, the more your name is out there. The more clicks, the more exposure your company name is being seen by other users. Embed Google Analytics scripts in your web site to track the source of people requesting information or quotes from your website.
Eco-businesses are sprouting up everywhere. Customers want to do business with organizations that are authentic and with which they feel a personal connection. Social media allows the organization to develop a personality and foster relationships with consumers that mass media could never deliver. Now is the time to take action and begin developing your own community.
Gary Survis has more than 25 years’ experience in the marketing industry, and his latest venture, Go Green Displays is a four-year old company that focuses on practical green solutions for face-to-face marketing (meetings, conferences, trade shows, and events). Survis has been featured in multiple publications including Forbes.com, Trade Show Week, Exhibitor Magazine, Exhibit Builder and Biz Bash. He can be reached at [email protected]