Social Fever

Social Fever

Social media has become an integral part of the lighting world, but does every sector of the industry treat it the same way?

Social Fever

By Katie Nale

Across the industry, companies and organizations are taking to social media, increasingly seeing it as an indispensable tool for self-promotion, connectivity and keeping up. We talked to five different organizations—a sales agency (The Dulanski Group), a design firm (Schuler Shook), a manufacturer (SPI Lighting), a research center (Lighting Research Center) and a government laboratory (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)—to see how social is being used throughout the industry and what success looks like in this newly pivotal space.

Why do you use social?

 
The Dulanski Group:
Having a social media presence allows us to share updates about events and educational opportunities within our agency, as well as the latest industry news and, most importantly, the latest innovations and product releases from our manufacturers. Our employees are very active in the industry and we support a number of organizations, so having a social presence and sharing updates and events is a great way to help cross-promote.

Schuler Shook:
Posting helps to build relationships with people and firms in our industry. It helps us communicate information about upcoming events and news and allows us to share our knowledge, which helps establish us as experts or thought leaders. It also helps to raise brand awareness and increase our brand recognition. We know that compelling posts will drive more traffic to our website. Ultimately, this can increase customer loyalty and contribute to our bottom line.

SPI Lighting:
Lighting is very visual, and social is really designed around sharing visual content. Our primary focus is to inspire specifiers with new lighting ideas—we put a lot of work into researching and licensing application photos. We’re fortunate that our fixtures are used in some pretty spectacular spaces, so we’re able to share a lot of photos that reflect the latest trends.

We also use social to help convey the culture and personality of our company by talking about things like what it’s like to visit the factory. Sometimes we give our followers a sneak peek at what we’re working on. We’ve also started producing videos, which have been a great way to share the story behind our custom fixtures.

Lighting Research Center:
We use social media to promote LRC research and increase public awareness of the many ways that lighting can benefit society and the environment—from improving human health to enhancing food production to managing clean energy in the new electric grid. It is also a great way to engage with potential students who want to attend a graduate program at the LRC to earn their M.S. or Ph.D., and to connect with our sponsors, LRC Partners, Alliances and Members. Social media is also an excellent tool for outreach and education. We hear from people who are struggling with depression or insomnia, or who want to help a parent who has Alzheimer’s disease. We try to provide each person with suggestions based on LRC research findings.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:
The main reason we use social media is to share the science, technology and research that we do with fellow researchers, potential collaborators, sponsors and taxpayers. Because most of the work we do is government funded, we believe it’s especially important that taxpayers understand what we’re doing. The vast majority of American adults receive news via social media, so that’s where we spend our time communicating with them.

Another reason we use social media is to show support for our partners and collaborators. As a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory, PNNL has many partners including other research institutions, universities, national laboratories and private sector partners. We also use social media to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. We recognize that individuals from diverse backgrounds must see themselves represented before pursuing an education and career in STEM. We want to be part of a vision in which everybody is able to consider a future working at a DOE national laboratory.

Who is responsible for your social strategy and implementation?

 
The Dulanski Group:
Our social media strategy is to provide visibility to all of the manufacturers we represent, as well as to help support education and development within the industry. Given the amount of time it takes to properly manage and cover all of our manufacturers, we find value in utilizing the services of CFW Marketing Communications. CFW develops our social media strategy, and creates and implements content.

Schuler Shook:
We have a dedicated social media team that takes turns posting. The team consists of marketing staff, as well as theater planners and lighting designers who have volunteered to be a part of the social media team.

SPI Lighting:
Our marketing team is responsible for social media with input and support from our sales team.

Lighting Research Center:
I [Rebekah Mullaney] am responsible for the LRC’s social strategy and implementation. However, many of our researchers are active on social media, especially LinkedIn—you can connect with almost all of our researchers there.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:
I [Jessica Wisse] set the social media strategy for PNNL under the leadership of our digital media manager, Greg Kunkel, with buy-in from PNNL leadership and stakeholders. We have a small but mighty team that helps implement the strategy and execute social media campaigns throughout the year.

Are there any restrictions/policies in place?

 
The Dulanski Group:
There are not any formal policies in place—we rely on good business sense and post items that are relevant to our audience, customers and agency as a whole.

Schuler Shook:
Schuler Shook provides guidelines on the Do’s and Don’ts of posting content and provides a “safe content” checklist to employees. This helps us provide trustworthy and credible information that is not offensive or unwanted by our clients.

SPI Lighting:
It is important to make sure that your licensing is in place for images before you post.

Lighting Research Center:
No, we are free to use our best judgment and there have never been any problems. The LRC is a mission-driven organization, we adhere to a set of core values, so we don’t imagine having any issues that would require restrictions or policies.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:
We have policies and procedures based on common best practices and an internal set of approvals posts go through to ensure they align with our strategy and are correct. Since we’re often dealing with technical topics, we want to make sure our posts are scientifically accurate. We also have policies set in place, including comment, engagement and asset policies to name a few.

What are your metrics for success?

 
The Dulanski Group:
We currently do not rely on any metrics to measure success. Given that having a social media presence is basically paramount to any business’ success in this century, keeping our accounts active and keeping our manufacturers and clients satisfied in seeing and interacting with our posts is our success barometer. If we are stimulating someone’s imagination, answering a question, inspiring an idea and sharing the love of a product or great project, then we are doing our job.

Schuler Shook:
Content that engages others and generates buzz is what we want to achieve. These activities can be measured in the form of people liking and/or sharing our posts or commenting and starting up a conversation.

SPI Lighting:
We’re looking at engagement metrics including reactions, clicks and comments. Impressions is another good indicator of reach. While different than engagement, it is evidence that you’re staying top of mind. On one social platform, we’ve seen annualized growth of 25% in followers, which far outpaces the growth of our email list, so when it comes to building an audience, social is a really effective way to do that.

Lighting Research Center:
I use typical audience engagement metrics, including the number of likes, comments, shares, retweets, impressions, etc. Personally, I feel like our social media efforts are successful when I can help someone who has a question about lighting, whether they need assistance with choosing the right LED light source for their kitchen, or want to know how to use light to help their child sleep better at night. If I am providing a positive benefit to humanity that aligns with the LRC mission to advance the effective use of light for society and the environment, then that is the real measure of success.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:
This depends on the campaign and what the goals are for that particular campaign. We are always creating content with engagement rates in mind. We do not do paid promotions—all of our social media efforts are organic. We’re constantly looking at engagement rates to see what type of content our followers like and what they don’t like. This means we’re always reevaluating our content strategies and willing to try out something new. We know not everything will work and we’re okay with that; our primary objective is to produce and share the content that our followers want to see.

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Katie Nale

Katie Nale

Katie Nale is assistant editor for... More info »