Contrast button on computer keyboardYou just got poked by the sun.Photo: diogo dubiellaYou have a new friend request … from the sun! OK, it’s actually from a company selling solar panels. “Solar service providers … are increasingly turning to social media tactics in an attempt to create engaged communities around the sunny clean power,” says Earth2Tech. Solar startups are harnessing the power of Jesse Eisenberg’s brunette tendrils  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the hope of boosting business and creating word-on-the-street evangelists.

One such company, Sungevity, already has cred with the hip green kids, so its embrace of social media is no surprise. The company partnered with Bill McKibben and in an attempt to put solar panels on the White House, one of its cofounders was a Greenpeace activist, and it’s been dubbed the Dell of solar for selling cheap solar panels. Earth2Tech writes that Sungevity’s new chief marketing officer, Patrick Crane, previously worked at LinkedIn, and he explains in a video interview on Sungevity’s “Solar Social Network” YouTube channel why he’d leave the social media space at such an exciting time:

Really I see this as a continuation of what I’ve been doing for the past four years [at LinkedIn]. When people install these systems, it becomes something the whole community finds really interesting. It becomes that conversation piece … So for me, it’s just a great continuation of what I’ve been doing. You might even say that solar is a social network.

Tell that to the vitamin D-deprived coders at Harvard. What?

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Earth2Tech also highlights One Block Off the Grid as “another solar startup that has been leaning heavily on social media. The company … has a YouTube channel with solar user testimonials, a Facebook page, and over 300,000 followers on Twitter.” Zow! One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) is already inherently community-based, as it enables neighbors to go in on solar panels together, so social media is a natural fit for it as well. (Unlike, say, those cereal boxes that say “Find us on Facebook!”)

Whether the solar industry’s efforts will actually poke profits upwards is anyone’s guess, but we’ll be following closely.

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