As we reviewed in a preceding post, social media can be used as a weapon against unsustainable businesses, but it can also be a powerful tool to help companies to engage in conversations with an environmental theme.
Social media sites have changed the way we communicate, not only by connecting people, but by providing valuable promotion opportunities. With research showing that Americans now expect companies to have a social media presence, companies cannot afford to avoid this marketing channel.
Most leading companies employ social media, however, small and mid-sized companies are actually better candidates for social media because they are more agile than larger companies.
Research conducted in 2009 by Minneapolis-based Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law surveyed management, marketing and human resources executives within companies across the US. This survey revealed that the most popular Social Media Channels are Facebook (80%), Twitter (66%), YouTube (55%), LinkedIn (49%) and Blogs (43%).
In association with efforts like search engine marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC), and online branding, social media sites like the ones listed above can be an important part of green marketing.
Social media sites provide opportunities to network with those with shared interest and link up relevant causes. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are the largest and best known social media sites, but some social networking sites focus exclusively on green issues (e.g., Greenwala, WiserEarth and MakeMeSustainable).
Posting articles, ads, updates, pictures and videos on social media sites drive traffic. However, such posting does not help search engine rankings because backlinks from sites like Facebook are not given any value by search engine crawlers. For SEO purposes it is important to get sites to post links to your site. This can be achieved by asking site owners to post your link, but one of the best ways to achieve this is to publish organic content.
Join green groups, and explore green apps and events. Check out LinkedIn’s events calendar and connect with other green business people. Blog about green issues, customize your profile with green widgets, videos and updates. Join up with causes, on Facebook add a causes app that allows you to raise awareness and help raise funds.
The best social media campaigns avoid over-selling and are focused on organic content. A step by step roll out is usually preferable to an all at once approach. Social media is a conversation not a monologue, so it is best to listen much more than you sell. Successful campaigns employ frequent posts, involving items of interest to a defined target market. These posts should encourage a dialogue through comments and a forum for conversation.
Encouraging participation is one of the keys to using social media effectively. One of the easiest ways to foster participation is to start a contest or offer coupon codes with enticing value. Self interest is always the most compelling reason for people to act, but a social media campaign should also provide incentives to share with others. This can sometimes be achieved by offering an environmentally redeeming message.
It is not enough to be environmentally sustainable, organizations must also effectively communicate this effort. A great example of an organization using social media comes from the Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability. Its success can be attributed to several factors including the ability to share stories online, proven learning materials and a high profile partnership with David Suzuki. A survey produced by Hewitt on employee engagement, indicated that 94% of Co-operaters participants believe the company is socially and environmentally responsible.
Enterprises that are using social media promotion to promote their brand and serve the environment include the Pepsi Co. Social media is not only for communicating it is also a powerful technology for market research. According to ReadWriteWeb, in 2011 companies are harnessing the power of the social media to “inform strategic decisions, and execute on the organization’s objectives, marketing plans, product roadmaps and more.”
There are many examples of how Enterprises and organizations are using social media for external marketing, but many are also using social media internally for collaborative learning and/or performance and productivity improvement.
Online social networking is sewn into the fabric of our daily lives, and companies that promote their green initiatives with social media are doing good for the planet while engaging in effective marketing communications.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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