July 31, 2009, 12:00 AM

One retailer hopes social media lights the way to new customers

Pegasus Associates Lighting wanted to go beyond just paid search to get new customers. After scrutiny, it leapt in June into social media, launching a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. And the Facebook page has already generated sales.

Chris Johnson, vice president of Pegasus Associates Lighting, felt there had to be a way beyond just paid search to draw people who had never heard of the web-only retailer to the site. The answer, he decided, was social media.

He watched from the sidelines and learned as some retailers first began creating blogs on their sites and more recently crafting presences on social networks. After seeing how more and more online shoppers responded to retailers’ blog posts and how the number of fans of a retailer on a social network can grow quickly through free word of mouth, Johnson decided this year to go whole hog into social media, recently launching a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Johnson and others blog about everything from lighting décor tips to how to see what you’re barbequing at night. They fill their Facebook page with loads of lighting information. And they tweet about lighting trends and news. Posts on the Pegasus blog are automatically tweeted through a plug-in within the retailer’s Wordpress blog. To collect more tweeting topics, Johnson set up three Google Alerts-kitchen, under-cabinet and LED-so the latest news and blog posts would be sent to his e-mail box.

Pegasus is happy with the results after only about a month of going social: for example, 111 Facebook fans, to which purchases have been attributable, and 240 Twitter followers.

The goal, Johnson says, is to make Pegasus a lighting expert people turn to for information and advice, and in turn convert those social researchers into customers.

“If you have a question about lighting, I want you to come to us, whether you buy from us at that time or not,” Johnson says. “We are a resource, and sooner or later I’m certain you’ll buy a lighting product from us.”

Twitter has proven itself useful beyond consumer interaction. A kitchen design firm 20 miles down the road from Johnson discovered Pegasus on Twitter and began a conversation about LED rope lights. Johnson ended up calling the design firm and the two companies are considering a partnership to work on some home-building projects in the near future.

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