What are the nonprofit/orgs that are working 2 wire the green movement, like what @netsquared does 4 nonprofits, @sunfoundation for politics; which orgs are working to expose data, leverage soc media, connect the orgs together?
How is social media being deployed to connect the Green Movement?
The way I see it, there are many directions that technology is aiding social change work:
- enabling data sharing, exchange and mapping
- connecting organizations for shared knowledge, partnerships and coalitions
- changing individual motions into a unified movement
It’s this last item I want to talk about right now. The climate change/ clean energy/ environmental (or whatever other title you prefer) sector is not unique to the broader social change arena in that there is still along way to go to really harness the power of the web. This GreenLiving article asks, “Have Facebook, Twitter and Web 2.0 Made Earth Day Every Day?” – I certainly hope not! Otherwise we have settled for low impact and disengaged motions; I’m after a real movement!
Facebook has lots of applications, it’s true: whether they are specifically targeted at “green” efforts (like the lil green patch app) or not (like Causes). But are Facebook apps really turning citizens into advocates, individuals into changemakers? If the goal of your organization is to educate young people about the effects and causes of climate change and motivate/empower them to start making changes, Facebook could certainly be a part of your organizations strategy. But what are you doing on Facebook? Simply “being there” isn’t going to cut it.
Facebook’s newest “renovations” have, as many people have already noticed, nearly relegated Groups as a thing of the past and pushed Pages onto the main stage. As the numbers of users grow, so do your number of friends, and then in turn so does the frequnecy of news items, status updates, and general calls to action for your network. So how do you cut through the noise, how do you sift through the hundreds of apps, how do you connect and engage? Good question.
The best answer I can give (without spending the entire brainstorming, strategizing, and working in person) is that Facebook is a place to connect, and round up supporters. The engagement takes place outside of Facebook. You can make friends and call them into action, but those actions and real engagement will link to and live outside of the platform.
There are TONS of climate activisits and organizations on Twitter – spreading news, policy alerts, new developments, and ideas. We have seen awareness campaigns like World Wildlife Federation’s “wildlife watch” (next time you see wildlife, Tweet it with the hashtag #wwf!), and news streams like #earthtweet. There is a lot of potential with Twitter to spread messages and calls to action from sources onto the Twitter stream, and then back again. For example, using Social Actions (which aggregates actionable opportunities from across the web), you could pull all of the actions related to your organization’s specific environmental focus and push them out via Twitter or your website, and so on. You can also use Social Actions’ Twitter mashups to pull and push actionable opportunities to your network. So how do you cut through the noise, how do you sift through the random updates, how do you connect and engage?
It’s the same answer: connect on Twitter, grow your network, and make those calls; but the real engagement, the action, takes place outside of Twitter. Don’t create a strategy or even expect to use Twitter for the actions. It’s not going to work. Use the tool for what it is: a communications platform. Target your communications, leverage mashups and applications that help you deliver information, updates and calls to action that are important to your work and your network, and then move those supporters into the movement taking place above Twitter.
ItsGettingHotInHere is just one example of getting it right in the blogosphere – aggregation is key to really get content (read: messages) out and around the web, creating opportunities for more people to read and also more people to share. The climate change movement has shown a lot of focus on helping people effected by climate change (everyone) share their story, voice their concerns. This is excellent – something that many other sectors could learn from. But it isn’t enough to only tell our story. We need to couple real voices, with real opportunities to take action and get involved.
The power of blogs is the real-time documentation. Something that can really help the climate change movement is documentation, shared between campaigns, organizations, and coalitions, about 1. what is happening and 2. lessons learned from the work. Openly sharing strategies and what worked and didn’t work can help save time, money, and a lot of wasted efforts at reinventing the wheel. Blogs are a great way to do this because of their immediacy, accessibility, and linkability. So how do you cut through the noise, how do you sift through the random updates, how do you connect and engage?
Your Twitter or Facebook calls to action might bring people to your blog, or your website. But the action is still taking place beyond the blog. It’s a cop-out, I know, to say all of this, but it’s true. And I feel like I have to say it to remind us that living and working and concentrating soley on social media is not going to change the world. It’s what we do with social media to find and collect supporters, education them, empower them, and provide real opportunities to go out and make the changes that really matter. Some of that work may still be online, and in fact much of it may be, but no Facebook application is going to install solar panels on my roof – though I could fundraise for those panels in the same space.
What do you think?
This post is really to start a conversation. And I really, really, REALLY want to hear what you think. Here are some things to help get the conversation started if the above didn’t already give you something to say. These are just questions to get you thinking, and talking. I’d love for you to share your ideas, answers, questions, and thoughts below – but if you have the conversation offline, in your organization, and with your friends, well, that works for me, too!
FiredUpMedia wants to create a platform for youth effected by climate change to share their story and create news articles that can be cynidated throughout college radio/news networks and beyond. This is a great example of providing a real, authentic voice to a global issue. But how do you wish the platform would work? How could the platform also integrate policy items as well as education and action items to get people involved?
TakingItGlobal is an online community for youth interested in global issues that provides tools and resources for members to enagage and collaborate on issues they care about. How can a youth-targeted platform like this bridge the sector to connect the stories, voices, action items and projects underway with those in other groups (whether those are geographic, cultural, racial, or religious groups) working on climate change, too?
Change.org’s Climate Change cause area has over 23,000 members. How do you want to see these supporters engaged? Is there a way you would want your organization’s community or membership to interact with the content or actions distributed through the Change.org platform?
Earth Day Network has a great website to help get people involved in celebrating and protecting the planet. Should EDN be an aggregator for the sector, pulling in news and reports, information and so on? How could EDN, or similar projects like Focus The Nation, move from a specific date-based event to a 365-day movement?
TechSoup Global’s GreenTech project has launched a campaign to education people about steps to “green” their work. What are the most immediate actions a global organization like TSG could advocate for? How could TSG integrate the GreenTech work with their international work of providing discounted technology projects to nonprofit organizations?
Happy Earth Day everyone! I’m really excited about this conversation, about pushing the climate change movement forward, and about what we can all do, regardless of our position, skills, or location, to make a difference. Can’t wait to hear what you think!