Social media for Sustainability


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The power of social media to create a sustainable world

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  • As a society we face perpetual change. In the 23 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union by early 1992, the social and economic impacts continue to be felt worldwide. In this period the world has become a more connected place. International connectivity has stimulated trade but is also likely to have played a significant role in in global economic collapse. An unprecedented level of human migration for political, economic, and ecological reasons presents an increasing threat to traditional national and international order, along with exceptional opportunities for growth and revitalization.  At the same time, ecological systems are rapidly changing and degrading, with extinction rates up to 1000 times their pre-human. Changes are impacting upon a global biodiversity that is already under pressure from expanding urbanization and increasing population growth. The Internet - this is the internet by the way… I’ll introduce you to it properly in a few slides - the internet has brought people together, enabling the rapid, widespread emergence of ever novel ideas and empowerment of communities to bring about change and raise awareness of injustice.
  • For me, the real promise of social media is in the potential it has to result in behavior change, change toward more sustainable behaviors through social learning. Now I’m not sure how many of you have come across the concept of social learning, but social learning is rather like the holy grail of sustainability. It is believed that through social learning we can achieve the significant shifts in societal behavior that we need in order to create a more sustainable world. Now much has been written on social learning, which I will attempt to consolidate in 3 slides! It is said that, for social learning to occur, there must be
  • A change in understanding or some kind of learning to have taken place
  • This change in understanding must move beyond the individual and diffuse to members of wider social units or communities of practice to which they belong
  • and this learning must spread, person to person through social interaction. In such connected times, social interaction, through social media can have significant consequences.
  • Leading to social media bringing about significant social change. Take the Arab Spring. The whole world watched the events in the Middle East and North Africa over a year ago with feelings of inspiration, fascination and awe – awe at the power of digital technology, at our ability almost to be part of it and to watch it in real time and the role social media had played in it.
  • In the summer of 2010, besides yielding enough oil to effectively kill off part of the Gulf ecosystem permanently, B.P.’s oil spill also yielded some decent satire shared and created in social media, which went some way toward damaging BPs reputation. Although in this case social media did not provide enough outcry to change policy, over 2 years later BPs stock price is down 35% from pre-spill levels.
  • Now, so far I have made the assumption that everyone is familiar with the term ‘social media’ but for those who are not, or who prefer a more solid definition. Here is the one provided by Kaplan & Haenlein in there paper referenced below. It’s a great paper should you wish to read more about social media. They state that:‘Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content.’ In short social media allows users to interact on the Internet
  • Within this general definition, there are various types of Social Media, many of which you are probably familiar with. Such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and twitter. Wikipedia enables the collaborative creation of documents Youtube enables users to upload their own videos and to comment and share on the videos of othersAnd twitter enables small snippets of information to be shared, often with links to larger documents, websites or films.There is no systematic way in which different Social Media applications are categorized. Here they have been placed under the general categories of publish, share, discuss, commerce, location, network, games and publish. Google and Facebook are important gateways to these different categories. And facebook itself is of course a form of social media.I wonder if I can take a moment to as you a question. Could those of you with a facebook account raise their hands. Wow, take a look around. It’s not surprising.  On Oct 4thfacebook announced that it’s population was 1 billion. One billion that is a population the same size as the world was in 1804. That means 1 in 7 of us on this planet are a facebook user. If Facebook were a country, it would have the third largest population, right behind China and India. And that raises the question... how many people are connected to the Internet?
  • Approximately 2.3 billion of us, representing 32.7% of the world population… you know I’ve often wondered what that looks like, I mean what the internet looks like, and I said earlier that I would introduce you to it properly.
  • So, in writing this presentation I came across this amazing picture, well, really a graph of the Internet. Now, I’m not pretending to fully understand this graph, but in essence it’s made by plotting the connections between IP addresses, this map is of the Internet in 2003.Graph Colors:Asia Pacific - RedEurope/Middle East/Central Asia/Africa - GreenNorth America - BlueLatin American and Caribbean - YellowRFC1918 IP Addresses - CyanUnknown - White I’m sure you’ll agree that the image is quite beautiful and fascinating to get some idea of how many connections there are in a region, because for the internet, and social media to have any impact on sustainability we need to know how many people we are reaching and where they are.I find this map easier to visualise.
  • Here are figures showing the percentage of the population online as of 31 dec 2011. Is it higher, lower than you expected? Well, however you imagined it, this population is growing, and growing fast.
  • In fact the population of Internet users is growing by 7.9 per second, almost twice the global birth rate of 4.2
  • Even though we have witnessed growing social awareness and support for sustainability since the 1970s, decisions continue to be made that are detrimental. Individuals, communities, businesses, governments—even those with the best of intentions—are all falling short of making decisions as if people and the future mattered. At some point, we must acknowledge that the systems producing such decisions are fundamentally flawed in many ways. Our governance systems at all levels need to be reconsidered and restructured.As I mentioned at the start over the past 20 years, rapid globalization and technological innovation have drawn people and their environments into an even more densely interwoven tapestry of problems and possibilities. Feedback loops between political, economic, social and environmental systems have become ever tighter and more complex. The internet, and social media enables new approaches to governance in which stakeholders across sectors and jurisdictions are engaged in consensus building and implementation processes. Social media enables all-important stakeholders to be part of the conversations and decisions that effect them. And yes, not everywhere has the ability to be part of social media at the moment, but evidence shows that situation is changing, and changing faster than we have predicted.
  • Social media is really about facilitating greater participation.Commonly universities, institutions and businesses don’t approach social media optimally. They treat social media like interactive marketing, which is computer to consumer; social media is people to people. The gap itself is bridged by participation, meaning that a company empowers PEOPLE to engage and interact with other PEOPLE.For example, a university may publish it’s research on urban sustainability as a paper. Putting the link onto a social media site. This is only interactive marketing. To turn this into social media the university would need to add space for people to comment on the video or upload their ideas for how to implement this research. The difference is in enabling a conversation and creating ownership beyond the university and into the wider community.
  • Social media an important tool in creating a sustainable world. Social  media  is  another  channel  to   engage  with  stakeholders. Its role is in breaking  down  barriers  between  managers  and  stakeholders,  forcing  greater transparency in conversations.  While not all of these conversations will happen online, social media still has the potential of changing how  we engage  multiple  stakeholders  and  nurture   long-standing  relationships.    And greater engagement is needed, particularly in environmental management, to ensure that relevant research reaches practitioners and creates behavior change. Research shows that conservation projects are more sustainable in the long term, the more participatory it is.
  • Although these figures may now be somewhat improved, a 2004 study showed that up to 77% of conservation management was based on anecdotal evidence and discussion with friends and colleagues rather than research.
  • I would suggest that social media forms part of that anecdotal evidence, as research shows 75% of Internet users, use social media as a key source of information. Why the disparity?
  • Well, in part this may be due to the accessibility of scientific data. Journals alone are not easy to access, and often involve having to pay. However, there are increasing moves towards open access publishing and the UK aims to make all publicly funded research open access by 2014 with the EU to follow. Of course, this does not solve all problems, as accessibility is only one issue. Scientific language may also stop information moving to stakeholders, as may the time take to read and understand lengthy papers. What may be best is a variety of approaches.ccessto research slow, slow to publish also, but open access in UK by 2014 and EU to follow…
  • Take for example one of my papers, published last year in Conservation Letters. Since it’s publication, the paper has received 6 citations from other academic papers. A little disappointing when aiming for a real world impact.But the paper fared much better on Scribd, a platform to share and discuss papers and I made a ppt version of the paper and placed it on slideshare with greater success. Writing a blog about the paper would no further enhance it’s impact and enable greater discussion with end users. Showing that even at the most basic level sharing our research on multiple platforms can increase its impact.
  • The key to reaching people is to share information on multiple platforms
  • Social media enables the spread of sustainability concepts more rapidly through peer learning. People pay attention to what their trusted sources and friends have to say. Information moves rapidly between and across social networking sites through both technology features and also through key individuals active on multiple platforms.Products, messages and behaviours spread like viruses. Similar to medical epidemics, a handful of special people play an important role in starting idea epidemics.
  • This is a representation of what the social network of Jesus may have looked like. I’d like to use it to clarify the key roles of individuals in social media who may create these idea epidemics.  These are the Mavens, Connectors and specialists. Mavens are idea specialists. They are human databanks who are obsessive about details and about sharing them with others; Connectors are people specialists. They know a lot of people from every possible sub-culture and niche. They have an extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances out of everyone. They act as social glue by spreading ideas around; and Salespeople have the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing.  In the social network of Jesus, Jesus most often played the role of Maven and Connector, with the disciples acting as salespeople.  To spread concepts of sustainability it is important to have the integration of scientific and policy communities into social networks and within the roles of maven, connector and sales person. Such integration could have a significant impact on sustainability. In particular leading to improved governance, and social learning.
  • Classic social learning is where novel ideas spread from a group with close ties between them to wider society via weak network ties, or acquaintances.
  • Because our close friends tend to move in the same circles that we do, the information they receive overlaps considerably with what we already know. Acquaintances, by contrast, know people that we do not, and thus receive more novel information. Technologies such social media enable people to manage large networks of acquaintances and to maintain the weak social ties that bring novel information into our lives and to spark innovation and new social norms.
  • how do we implement a social media plan? Well the best social media plans involve elements that give people a reason to either do something, share something, or gain something. I’d like to briefly run through some case studies as examples of good social media campaigns.
  • “350” refers to the safe upper limit of parts per million CO2 in the wanted to create a series of demonstrations around the world using the number 350 as the center pieceThe did not print one single picket sign, they did not create one single flyer, they did not make a single phone callThe only tools they used were their website, Facebook and Twitter Results: 5,200 demonstrations worldwide, with rallies in more than 180 countries, hailed as “the most successful grass roots social media environmental public action ever.”
  • Lenny Kravitz works to make information about his concerts go viral. To do this for each show photographers are hired to show up at his concerts and photographs fans. Pictures of fans are then posted on his Facebook page. The fans see themselves on Lenny Kravitz’s fan page on Facebook and tag the photos. These photos show up in the news feeds of thousands of other users. Of course, going viral depends on the size of an audience for an idea. For a pop star a viral video may reach 1million views or more. For an academic a viral video is more likely to reach 1000 views.
  • The Sims focussed on rewarding their customers. Their strategy encouraged more users to buy the Sims. As part of this they created clothing designs, a virtual fashion show was hosted and the best voted for by fans became an actual clothing line at H&M.
  • So a basic template for a successful social media campaign involves some failrly simple elements. First you will need to consider what output you are trying to increase, then what action would support this, consider what would be a creative activity to support your chosen action, consider how it could be made more viral or into a contest and decide the reward from the contest.  An example may be trying to get people to make campus a more sustainable place, in order to do that you may want students to tell others about their ideal sustainable campus to raise awareness amongst peers, as an activity students could create short films illustrating their vision and the amount of money that would be needed to fix the problem which can be uploaded to a dedicated webpage. Students would then need to raise awareness of their video and campaign to get others to donate. Those that raise enough money get their idea funded.
  • sound familiar? This is kickstarter... if you haven’t come across this yet, take a look it’s a great platform for supporting the arts and non profits. Science has it’s equivalent in
  • and when you design remember to keep PUV in mind. Social media campaigns should be Personal Create designs with a personal hook in mind – cultivate the feeling of personal relevance, Unexpected People like consuming then sharing new information through social media. Pique their curiosity and reframe the familiar. Visual Show, don’t tell. Photos, videos – synthesize your thoughts with quick visuals. Visceral Design your campaign to trigger the senses: sight, sound, etc. – tap into emotions
  • So hopefully by now you are pretty much convinced of the power of social media to save the world. You have a basic plan, template and idea how to design and a reason for doing so. Social media reaches bilions of people, and a growing populations and could change peoples behaviors and the social norms of society. Social media has already played a significant revolutionary role, and has the potential to track down and capture the baddies of the world. Or does it? Here’s a word of warning about how unreliable and unpredictable social media can be.
  • Is this familiar to you? Could we have a show of hands from everyone who knows what this relates to?
  • in March the attention of the world was focused on Uganda and specifically Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, a Ugandan Guerrilla group accused of child abduction
  • The KONY 2012 campaign was the brainchild of San Diego based non-profit ‘invisible children’ headed by Jason Russell started in 2004 with an aims to have Kony arrested and tried for crimes against humanity, to Stop LRA brutal & inhumane practices of: Murder, rape, attack and destruction of towns & villages. Abducting and abusing children and Forcing children to become LRA soldiers
  • On March 5th 2012 a new website and video was launched with the aim of raising awareness, increasing public pressure and raising donations.
  • The campaign made use of influencers - both connectors and mavens. The website showed these 20 celebrities and 12 politicians as supporters. These supporters then sent out tweets to show their support and ask their followers to spread the message. They also made use of facebook to share links and make comments
  • Twitter exploded with information. Here are the mentions of KONY 2012 over twitter. Using only 20 celebrities news of Joseph Kony and the video spread across the globe.
  • These celebrity influencers were well positioned to spread the word to different sectors of online society and had significant influence. Oprah Winfrey at the time had 11.2million followers and Rihanna had 18.5 million.The campaign was looking like a success
  • The KONY 2012 video was viewed 100m times in only 6 days
  • The fastest of all time. As an aside, I don’t know if you can really see this graph but the most watched videos do not inspire great faith in humanity… it include Justin Bieber and an annoying orange… So quite an achievement to have something of worth watched that many times.BUT
  • The key event of April 20 where Supporters were asked to “Cover The Night” with banners, posters, fliers, chalk art, and other visual materials and to Stage rallies was poorly supported in the US and worldwide and KONY 2012 follow up video had a fraction of the views: 2M vs 100M+
  • What happened then? It was no doubt a fantastic Viral campaign that created broad awareness and made Kony a bad-guy celebrity. However, it failed to activateaudience beyond spreading the message and the awareness raised, did not lead to action. In fact, the campaign was too many steps from “raise awareness…” to “find & arrest Kony”. The process was largely based on sharing information’s with little incentive or structure in place beyond this to do anything more.
  • The number of mentions and shared died long before April 20th suggesting the campaign may have peaked too soon for action to occur and the Invisible Children team was unprepared for the level of virality of the campaign and therefore unprepared. The campaign also drew criticism and divided opinion.
  • So my word of warning is that social media is unpredictable and has unreliable outcomes. The KONY campaign certainly had the ‘share’ aspect built in, but not much of the ‘do’ aspect. A campaign must be thoroughly thought through and planned before launching. Here are a few campaigns that have resulted in successful outcomes.
  • As the biggest single buyer of palm oil in the world, Greenpeace targeted Unilever as a way to help clean up the industry behind much forest destruction. In April 2008 they launched the ‘Dove Onslaught(er) video) and linked this to a website and information on how to email Unilever. The video spread virally and led to many emails.  Public pressure from the campaign moved Unilever to support an immediate moratorium on deforestation for palm oil in South East Asia and to build a coalition of companies to support this moratorium. Including lobbying the major players within and outside the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, including Kraft, Nestle and Cadburys, as well as putting pressure to save forests onto their palm oil suppliers. Finally, Unilever agreed that they would lobby the Indonesian government to support the moratorium.
  • WaterTank launched by Levis in collaboration with uses a simple, game to educate and challenge Levis fans about the global water crisis and what they can do to help. The game has challenges which can “unlock” up to 200 million virtual liters of clean drinking water, representing the Levi’s® brand contribution to Users could choose to play for fun or play for prizes. In its first 72 hours, it had over 50,000 page views, and more than 20,000 challenges completed. Six days after its launch—the campaign is already one-third of the way to its 200 million-gallon goal.
  • Into more familiar surroundings. In 2011, myself and colleagues launched the Sustainable Learning website as a means of hosting and creating greater impact for our research on knowledge exchange for sustainability. The site includes links to our twitter feed, a blog contributed to and commented on by academics, policy makers and practitioners, links to youtube videos, music videos and children’s stories about our research, a working paper series that can be contributed to by anyone as well as resources pages linking to our papers, and related work on Scribd and presentations from slideshare. The website, has been a successful way of moving away from sustainability research as usual.
  • So to reiterate some of my earlier points, a social media plan should be organized around a central activity, make sure the word is spread daily via a number of different platforms which are integrated together for example, slideshares can be embedded in tweets and tweets can be posted onto facebook.  
  • Here’s a map of the connection between users. As well as being a pretty stunning map it serves to show that even with 1 billion facebook still has black holes. Regions of the globe where it does not reach. Therefore, to reach the globe we must use many channels of communication.
  • In conclusion, social media offers a significant tool in creating a sustainable world. In an era of transparency, events that may have been easy to downplay in the past are now plastered across the Internet, they’d be hard to ignore even if you tried. Lucky for the future of our planet, these channels are being used in attempts to protect the earth. The environmental community has historically tried to reach the indifferent with documentaries, books, pamphlets and other forms of traditional media. In a world where we see more of our computer screens than inhaling fresh air, there have been significant moves to embrace social media.  We now need organisations and professionals working in academia and governance to embrace social media and take on the roles of maven, connector or salesperson. Creating a profile, sharing information and cultivating meaningful interactions within a community does take time—time that will extend above and beyond an average workday. But the viral impact of updating extended networks of family and friends in the evening about what one believes in and works on during the day cannot be underrated.
  • Social media for Sustainability

    1. 1. Social Media for Sustainability
    2. 2. Thepromise of SocialLearning
    3. 3. change in understanding
    4. 4. beyond the individual
    5. 5. bysocialinteraction
    6. 6. Arab Spring
    7. 7. BP Oil Spill
    8. 8. “ a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. ”Kaplan, Andreas M.; Michael Haenlein (2010) "Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities ofSocial8Media". Business Horizons 53(1): 59–68.
    9. 9. WORLDWIDE: 2,267,233,74210
    10. 10. 12
    11. 11. 7.9new users per second13
    12. 12. why ?social media 14
    13. 13. A 2004 study showed that up to 77% of conservation management actions are based solely on anecdotal evidence rather than scientific data 17Sutherland, W.J., Pullin, A.S., Dolman, P.M. & Knight, T.M. (2004) The need for evidence-based conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 19, 305–308.
    14. 14. 75% of Internet surfers use„„Social Media‟‟ as an informationsource Forrester Research (2008) 18
    15. 15. 19
    16. 16. Evely, A.C., Pinard, M., Reed, M.S., Fazey, I., 2011.High levels of participationin conservation projects enhance learning.Conservation Letters 4, 116-126. - citations: 6 - Views on scribd: 449 - Views of ppt on slideshare: 722 - Tweets: 20 - Facebook shares: 4 20
    17. 17. People learn best from other people – usually those who are like them and they can trust22
    18. 18. MavenConnectorSalesperson
    19. 19. A change in understanding is social What learning (SL)? Goes beyond the individual Via social S interaction LReed MS, Evely AC, Cundill G, Fazey I, Glass J, Laing A, Newig J, Parrish B, Prell C, Raymond C,Stringer LC (2010) What is social learning? Ecology & Society 15 (4): r1. [online]
    21. 21. Do:Actionable engagement
    22. 22. Share:Build in virality
    23. 23. Gain:The Sims fashion contest
    24. 24. What output are you trying to increase?What action would support (increase) that?What would be a creative activity involving thataction?What is a way to take that activity and make it viral?What do they gain?
    25. 25. “PUVV”the basic design principles that grab people’s attentionPersonalUnexpectedVisualVisceral
    26. 26. A word of33 warning
    27. 27. 34
    28. 28. 35
    29. 29. “Invisible Children” 36
    30. 30. March 5, 2012 “Kony 2012”new website and video  Raise awareness of Kony  Increase public pressure to capture Kony  Donate to the cause37
    31. 31. Viral Spread 20 celebrities and 12 politicians as supporters These then tweeted their support and asked followers to spread the message Facebook pages 38
    32. 32. Viral Twitter Explosion!! 39
    33. 33.  Oprah 11.2M Followers  “Thankstweeps for sending me info about ending #LRAviolence . I am aware. Have supported with $’s and voice and will not stop.#KONY2012.” Rihanna: 18.5M Followers  “#KONY2012 Spread the word!!! PLEASE go to Even if its 10 minutes… Trust me, you NEED to know about this! #1LOVE”40
    34. 34. 100M views in 6 days41
    35. 35. 6 Days To 100M Views42
    36. 36. April 20 “Cover the Night”poorly supported in US and worldwide“Kony Part II – Beyond Famous”video had fraction of “Kony 2012” viewings43
    37. 37. What Happened? 44
    38. 38. A word of46 warning
    39. 39. Share + Do:Greenpeace: ‘Dove Onslaught(er)’
    40. 40. Share + Do + Gain:‘Levis &’
    41. 41. Share + Do + Gain:‘Sustainable Learning’ 49
    42. 42. Developing a social media plan: Central 1. Organize your content around Activity a central activity, like an event Videos, Words, Pictures and/or contest Spread the word 2. Spread the word about your daily central activity every day Home portal Social Networks using selected social media Blogs Messaged boards platforms: start conversations, make Forums comments, send messages, share Social bookmarkers links, photos, videos, ask your community to inviteContent sharing sites: YouTube, Flickr their friends etc Emails 3. Weave your platforms together
    43. 43. 51
    44. 44. “ Tell me and I’ll forget,show me and I may remember, ”involve me and I’ll understand.
    45. 45. Thank You Anna Evely Project MAYA Twitter: @AnnaEvely, @projectmaya, @sustainlearningThanks also to:Mark Reed, Ioan Fazey and Lindsay Stringer of the Sustainable Learningproject