Earth Hour 2010 – Learn Social Media By Example

Social Media Campaign Stat Box

: Earth Hour Campaign

: Cause Rallying

: http://www.earthhour.org/

: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr

: Everyone

: March 2010

: 1 Hour (however, the promotion of the campaign is done throughout the year)

Earth Hour is an event organized by the WWF to raise awareness about global warming that started off in the city of Sydney, Australia in 2007. The event’s message spread like wildfire through the internet by word of mouth through social media networks and blogs. The event usually takes place at the last Saturday of March between 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time for all the participants.

In the 2009 event, 88 countries and 4,159 cities participated in Earth Hour of that year, with the biggest participant being the USA and an estimated number of 80,000,000 participants in 318 cities across 8 states.

What is it about?

Earth Hour, at its core, is a grass root movement that has been enabled by the internet. It is spread by people and corporations who signed up to participate in the event. To show their support for Earth Hour they end up talking about it and global warming and in part raising awareness of the issue and encouraging their peers and environments to participate in it. Essentially making the message spread like wild fire among certain communities and stretching out to others as well.

It has always been popular amongst blogs and bloggers and, with time, it expanded into other networks and morphed itself into various different forms to promote the event and push the message to a wider audience.

In 2010 you were able to show your support on social networks in many ways…

On Twitter; you could register to have your Twitter profile avatar turned off at Earth Hour and have your profile send a message to your followers declaring the start of Earth hour. You could add an Earth Hour ribbon to your Twitter avatar too. There is also a similar application on Facebook which will turn off the lights on your wall.

Event Promotion

Event Promotion

These apps and the event itself create a sense of community and belonging to a bigger group and that feeling is capitalized on by going to the Youtube and Flickr pages and sharing your experience with others and seeing what others around the world have done. Given the nature of this event, it is one of the things that would only keep on growing as time goes on.

Buzz Generation:

The format used for the event lends itself to create a buzz; if you happen to miss the #earthhour tags on your Twitter stream, then you must see the status update on your friend’s Facebook or read a blog post of one of the participants. Even if you tend to miss every mention of it online, there is a very likely chance that you will be asking yourself why the lights are out in your city and eventually learn about it.

Blog Post Spike

Blog Post Spike

Twitter Buzz During the Event

Twitter Buzz During the Event

The effect of this can be seen through the number of people who were talking about earth hour, whether it was on blogs or on Twitter and how those numbers kept on increasing as we edged closer to the event’s date.

Twitter Users Are Still Talking!

Twitter Users Are Still Talking!

Why did it do what it did?

Now the brilliance of this event is that it is the perfect awareness campaign for global warming and energy consumption, and it does that for many reasons but especially because of the following:

  • It makes people feel like they made a difference and in turn make them feel good about themselves. Now the effectiveness of turning your lights off for an hour is definitely negligent but it has a great moral effect on people; it makes them appreciate the importance of even small steps and encourages them to make a difference in the way they live their lives.
  • It is empowering. Once people started grouping and banding around this issue, it created a tipping point amongst society where people began supporting it just because others are doing it and they didn’t want to be left out. If environmental policies can garner the same kind of viral effect, they actually would have a chance of being adopted and enforced by governments and countries.
  • It is all about boasting rights and people love to boast! By being all about how “YOU” are doing something that is hip, edgy and global and talking about it, made it the thing that others wanted to do as well. It created a value for others to partake in it because it was perceived as hip by others who might not particularly jump on the environmental band wagon. The event did that by infiltrating our online life through recruiting our friends to recruit us; insidious and ingenious at the same time!

What do you think of the campaign? Did you participate in it? Can its model be replicated to other causes?

Let us hear your thoughts.

: 5/5
: 5/5
: 2/5
: No
: 5/5

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    I've always heard about Earth Hour but never was aware of the campaign being carried out for it! Great share! Thanks :)

  • timgier

    I appreciate the spirit behind Earth Hour and the effectiveness of social media in promoting it, but I don't know whether it accomplished anything ultimately.

    It may be that turning off one's lights has a “great moral effect” on people as you suppose, but it is just as likely that it has no effect, or the opposite effect. Sometimes when we think that we've “done our part” we stop thinking about what more needs to be done.

    I agree that a widespread and viral campaign of social justice can be empowering. I wonder if it is possible to produce graphs that would show that Earth Hour had any impact on the mentions of environmental issues generally, once the tremendous spike in interest in the event itself passed? Did Earth Hour really change many minds, or get people to change any behaviors in meaningful ways?

    Unfortunately, it may well be all about the boasting rights and “You” and in the short run, and maybe that does make a difference. But in the long run, a commitment to environmentalism is inconvenient, more expensive and much more difficult to live with than not. I don't know that boasting rights are enough to sustain such a commitment. It seems to me that when the times get tough, and when the choices become most difficult, the boasters will move on to find something else that's new and “hip”.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com M.Bamieh

    There is absolutely A lot of truth to what you are saying about the actual effect of campaigns such as earth hour, in my view point its a lot like mother's day; we are not supposed to care about our mothers only 1 day a year we have to sustain a relationship throughout the year for that one day to be of any significance at all.
    But … one thing earth hour creates is a sensation of belonging to a group, and after doing it for a few years they already have the base to move on and do bigger things. So if they don't step up to the challenge and keep on doing the same thing of turn off your lights for an hour they will end up being pointless.

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