Friday, April 25, 2014

A Gringo Fantasy

This recent Rainforest Alliance video follows the satirical journey of an Average Joe who quit his 9 to 5 job to move to Nicaragua and “live the clich├ęd gringo fantasy of becoming an honorary native and leading the resistant forces” against deforesters and their multinational employers.

With more than 4 million hits on YouTube, this viral video promoting Rainforest Alliance certified products shows how technology, especially social media, has transformed the way environmental organizations share their message and reach new audiences.

The spread of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other mainstream social networks has created a glut of information, but also a cost-effective way for organizations to build awareness about important societal and environmental issues. For example, Water Is Life’s video featuring Haitians reading #firstworldproblems tweets earned more than 1 million views in just 4 days, spread awareness of the problem of lack of clean water, and was featured as one of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2013 by Adhere Creative.

Crowd sourced BP logo

Social networks also allow consumers to interact directly with brands. Greenpeace has been especially effective in mobilizing people to fight back against polluters; for example, an online contest to redesign the BP logo was flooded with submissions featuring oil spills and devastated wildlife.

It will behoove both companies and nonprofit organizations to focus on the role social media plays in disseminating messages to a large audience as this can work both in favor and against their objectives.

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