Lessons to be learnt from Earth Hour 2016

What were you doing at 8.30pm local time on Saturday March 19th? Were you sitting by candelight doing your bit for Earth Hour? Were you gathered at your neighbour’s house with most of the street in darkness? If the answer is no, then you’re not alone.

Yes, people from 178 countries and territories took part in Earth Hour this year and building such as the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building were plunged into darkness for an hour, but for many of us sitting in our home in suburban Australia, we weren’t aware it was on.

We love that a concept that had its humble beginnings in Sydney with a ‘lights-off’ event in 2007 is now part of a much larger movement, but it seems awareness for Earth Hour among everyday Aussies has waned. And this in an era when social media has the capacity for true social change – awareness should be better than it was nine years ago. Ideally, we should see a saturation of information all around us, from Facebook to Twitter to Instragram and across all social media platforms.

So what do we suggest to ensure that more of us make the commitment for lights-off and open up that discussion with our kids about why our day-to-day behaviours matter when it comes to global warming. If the goal of Earth Hour is in part about about bringing communities together to discuss a broad range of environmental issues, we need to make sure it’s the main topic of conversation before, during and after Earth Hour too.

Here are our suggestions for ensuring that Earth Hour (or any social change event or campaign for that matter) gets noticed:

Leverage people of influence to ‘sell’ it

Celebrities have influence whether you subscribe to it or not. Look at those Kardashians – like them or loathe them, they’re hard to avoid and that means that the brands that they plug get noticed too. Earth Hour has used people of profile before. Miranda Kerr was loud and proud on Earth Hour in 2011, Cate Blanchett has happily plugged it and last year Jamie Oliver and other top celebrity chefs visited Sydney during the Earth Hour weekend to highlight the impact global warming has on Australian food and farmers. So long as a celebrity seems genuine in their support of a concept of product, they’ll have influence which equals engagement.

Brand Ambassadors and Influencers drive engagement

Yes, people with a profile can make an impact but so too can others. Online advocates in social media can impact and influence others and they bring an authenticity that is difficult to replicate. Perhaps the powers that be at Earth Hour should look to engage with some of the most influential bloggers out there, (if they haven’t already) and see if there are existing supporters of the concept among them. They may be happy to spruik it next time it comes around and even allure their loyal followers along with the cause.

Ensure Social Media is a Two-Way Conversation

As an organisation, it’s important to forge relationships with those already talking about Earth Hour – it’s a two-way street these days, so make those connections and keep the conversation going.

This might be a comment in a Facebook thread or a simple re-tweet. It’s these little things that demonstrate the essence of community to support your social change campaign.

Know who you are targeting

Like any marketing campaign or plan, a crucial activity of developing you plan is to identify your target markets or consumers. This is no different. Not everyone will be your target audience for your social change campaign, in Earth Hour’s case, no amount of selling is going to sway people who simply just don’t give a rats about the environment to act otherwise. So know who you want to engage and use relevant social channels that the core demographic uses.

Share the outcomes and results

Discussing the ‘millions’of people behind Earth Hour is all well and good but providing accurate facts, figures and outcomes is important too. People want to know what their efforts contributed to. This matters all the more now that any ‘haters’/ critics are ready to jump online and bring to the fore all the negatives. It’s also a great way to keep them engaged for the future too.

Happy Marketing!