Image: Nike, Move To ZeroYour company has crafted an ambitious sustainability strategy – now how to get the news out into the world? As the social media landscape continues to evolve, Eco-Age’s digital editor shares tips on how to make sure your messaging breaks through.
As global awareness around sustainability issues increases, so too does the surrounding conversation taking place on social media. From Twitter to Pinterest, users are not only becoming more interested in sustainability topics but they are looking more closely at how this information is being communicated to them too. And with transparency being the key to earning long-term trust from both followers and customers, now’s the time to review how your sustainability and social media strategies can work hand in hand together.
First, decide how your sustainability messaging relates to your brand’s usual content offering. Companies like Patagonia have had sustainability at the core of their communications from day one. But for brands who are communicating their sustainability initiatives and strategies for the first time, knowing how to integrate this messaging alongside your current content offering can feel overwhelming. How will your established audience respond? Will it impact your overall engagement?
General consensus leans towards consumers wanting to know more about companies’ stances on issues, and particularly social and political topics. What’s more, as a result of Covid-19 and subsequent lifestyle changes, a recent report has found that 63% of consumers consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability to be an important purchasing factor. The current social media landscape provides the perfect backdrop for introducing sustainability messaging into your strategy. Let your digital experts pick out which stories, initiatives and projects will most likely resonate with your established audiences (and what format will work best to share them), so that you can start slotting this content into your current publishing schedule.
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Pick Your Platforms
Thinking strategically about the platforms in your company’s digital portfolio is crucial to making your sustainability messaging as impactful as possible within the social media scroll. Often all eyes go to Instagram but historically, Twitter came out top as the platform where companies most commonly talk about sustainability. LinkedIn and Facebook can similarly be overlooked, but the appetite for this kind of news is definitely there. Identify the objective of your message before deciding where this content is likely to reach the right audiences. Then, consider the different formats you could use for sharing this information across all your platforms. If your Grid design can’t be interrupted, consider how Stories and Highlights could be better utilised, for instance.
And similarly, Pick Your Moment
Sustainability messaging might not get the traction you hope for on a Friday evening as compared to, say, a Monday afternoon. Think from your followers perspective about when they are most likely to take the time to engage with these news or updates, and schedule accordingly.
Provide Impactful Information
Keeping messaging concise and clear is key to social copywriting, but providing enough information is essential to ensuring your sustainability efforts don’t come across as superficial marketing ploys or even worse, greenwashing. These few tick-points should help to ensure your message strikes the right balance with your followers.
- Don’t shy away from using technical language on social media, but do provide definitions or unpack terms
- Provide sources when using statistics or referencing reports
- Direct followers on where they can find further information and resources (e.g. your company website’s sustainability section)
- Don’t overstate claims and avoid clickbait-type captions that could grab attention for all the wrong reasons
Time To Chat
Your audience may have questions about your sustainability work, so be ready with thoughtful responses. Adding value to the time a user spends on social media by providing them with accurate information in response to a query is a great way to earn loyalty and future engagement. You might be asked where people can find more information, or questioned on the specifics of different projects or initiatives. Provide detail where you can in order to encourage conversation and take your audiences on your sustainability journey with you.
If your sustainability-related content isn’t delivering the results you are hoping for on your primary channels, it might be time to consider expanding into new territories. Gucci Equilibrium and Ganni Lab are great examples of Instagram accounts created purely to support a brand’s sustainability messaging. As a result, the platforms attract a kind of ‘sub-community’, a micro audience who are highly engaged and informed in sustainability issues, and are interested in following the brand on its journey. The content on these platforms retain the brands’ tone of voices but with flexibility to be more experimental in their use of visuals (without impacting a carefully curated Grid aesthetic). As a result, they can easily tap into and test out social trends and designs, such as the current prevalence of infographics, bold typography and collage-inspired imagery on Instagram.
Before creating separate accounts, a few things to consider:
- How frequently will you be able to share new content and news to this platform?
- How will this account be distinct from your brand’s primary account?
- How will you attract audiences to follow the account?
Measure Your Messaging
Start tracking the impact of your sustainability messaging internally. Once you know what metrics to track that indicate success in your communications, share updates on the best performing content results and any further learnings. Always keep an eye on new opportunities (whether it be a platform, graphic design or reactive content opportunity) as you continue to test out different options to find the perfect formula for your audience. Then you can start to investigate whether audience reactions and engagements have impacted consumer behaviour or generated further business opportunities, for example.