SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) announced on Thursday, December 4th that it was launching a new app designed to build its relationship with customers by offering real-time energy use data and providing a social network for its customers to chat and exchange stories and photos.

MySolarCity App Designed To Create Social Network

The new MySolarCity app can also be used by homeowners to get a one-hour window for when they can expect a SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) crew to arrive to install solar panels at their location.

More on MySolarCity app

The new app was conceived from the outset as a multi-faceted initiative to bring SolarCity customers closer into the fold and attract new customers. SolarCity executives have even talked about developinging a “simple and frictionless” process to sign up customers online. The execs mentioned Amazon and Uber as models.

Any way you look at it, the MySolarCity app is a big part of the firm’s plans to attract new customers and gain their loyalty. One function of the app is to provide customers with real-time data, using pre-installed meters to measure solar energy production and consumption, including how much the energy use cost per hour, according Peter Rive, co-founder and chief technology officer of SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY).

The company will be adding a feature in the future to alert homeowners when they are using more energy than normal, giving them a chance to see what’s going on or adjust their electricity consumption, Rive noted.

Of note, rival SunPower brought in a former dell marketing exec to develop an online shopping portal that it claims will offer a simple and easy method for choosing solar equipment and financing options. The portal is scheduled to be launched next year.

Designed to create a SolarCity social network

The initial version of the app already comes with social networking elements. For starters, it includes a map that shows nearby SolarCity customers, but it does not give addresses or identify individual homes.

Customer referrals has become a critical part of the firm’s growth strategy, so SolarCity designed the app to encourage customers to become “ambassadors.” Existing customers will receive $250 for each referral and can compare their new customer referrals with other “ambassadors” around the country.  The firm is even providing an Instagram-like feature for ambassadors to enable photo sharing.

“The value of social networking is proportional to the size of the network, and SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) has a large network,” Rive commented. SolarCity claims to be the nation’s largest residential solar installer.