How do you keep households interested and engaged in your organisation’s commitment, plan or yearning for renewable energy?

Outside of corporate communications and collaborative groups, social media is opening new channels for engagement and raising awareness of your corporate goals – and wider climate change and sustainability discussions.

Let’s use solar energy as an example and look at how we could broaden the discussion.

The top 3 ways solar-charge your social engagement

1. Listen to what your audience is saying

Monitor Facebook comments and hashtags relevant to your organisation and your key issues. What’s trending, what are people talking about – and can you add anything of value to the conversation? What’s happening out there in the real world space that is relevant to the stand you are taking on solar power? Towoomba Regional Council approving construction of Australia’s biggest solar farm is amazing news – but twitter is all over the floating solar farm just outside London.

If there is enough movement on a particular topic, it potentially needs its own social media presence to avoid it disappearing among other trending items for your organisation.  Key pieces could be repeated on these pages and on the corporate page.

2. Be a real person – ask, respond, bring some humour

Your audience wants to engage, but not with the corporate line. Keep it real, and they might open up some real conversations. Ask questions, answer questions, and don’t shy away from criticism.

Criticism is not the same as trolling. No real person would feed a troll, so your organisation shouldn’t either. Just make a copy, block, delete and move away.

If you have switched to green power, how are you showing the difference to households or your community? Keeping it in the solar theme, take photos of streetlights that are now ‘solared’, run a solar Xmas light competition (and be prepared to explain why your lights are not), where are the sunniest spots in the office and what are you doing with them (are there plants, people or blinds?).

Real stories from your community, team members and suppliers can also go a long way to creating a ‘real bond’.  This tactic was used most successfully by Plastic Free July to generate interest and understanding of their campaign – keeping it personal and real before asking a wider audience to come on board.

3. Promote community content to promote community feeling

Spending up on potentially viral videos is one way to get social media presence, but showcasing what’s happening in your neck of the woods – and in your online community – is  an easier way to show support for your initiative and the discussion around larger issues.

Who else is talking up solar power? Celebrity tweets can be re-tweeted and followed, and you can create tweets that support and nurture your community’s understanding of the broader issues. You can mix in the Disneyland solar panels in the shape of Mickey’s silhouette with a piece on the world’s biggest solar farm in Morocco, now feeding into the grid – as is Australia’s current largest solar farm. If you’re in a regional area, are there opportunities to speak with local farmers about their solar use in the context of wider solar discussions?

Of course, just because your intent is to create discussion around solar energy doesn’t mean you can’t open up the conversation to other environmental issues.   A great example of interaction, sourcing community content and responding to criticism can be found on City of Sydney’s facebook pages – the main page introducing content from other areas that have an environmental bent.

The key is to be consistent with whatever approach you take.

What’s your best tip for social media engagement? And what’s the best post you’ve seen lately?