Note: Read Part I before proceeding.
If social media isn’t the turn-of-the-century invention of our era (other than smartphones), I don’t know what is.
The very existence of social media has changed the way we communicate. When you meet new people, you’re more inclined to ask for their Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram account (depending on how well you can click with the person and how high your stalker level is) than to ask for their number.
Familiar situation? Well, it has become ingrained in us to feel more at ease to communicate with people when we’re not facing them because it’s less confrontational. We can only blame one thing – social media.
If social media was personified, s/he would probably be the real life Gossip Girl.
It is without a doubt that social media is slowly integrating into our daily lives. Look at these numbers (consolidated by Craig Smith) and tell me I’m wrong:
- Facebook: 1.06 billion active users
- Instagram: 100 million users; 4 billion photos
- Twitter: 200 million active users; 170 billion tweets
For PR practitioners, this is good news. Not only does this mean that you can deliver your message to a niché audience, but it also allows for a two-way communication (which was discussed in Part I) between the client/company you are representing and its target public. It can also be very cost effective. One organisation that has maximised the potential of social media to fit its agenda is Greenpeace.
Greenpeace is an infamous campaigning organisation seeking to change attitudes and behaviours through its campaigns which focus on a wide range of worldwide issues. That sounds a lot like the planeteers I mentioned in Part I, yes?
In 2010, Nestlé was accused of contributing to deforestation through its choice of palm-oil suppliers in Indonesia that were “trashing Indonesian rainforests, threatening the livelihoods of local people and pushing orangutans towards extinction.”
Naturally, the logo and the video went viral.
It was a downward spiral for Nestlé after concerned netizens started getting involved by posting negative comments on Nesté’s Facebook page and tweeting on their personal accounts. On top of that, netizens changed their display pictures to the Killer Kit Kat spoof logo (above).
In an interview with Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo on CNN, Kumi mentioned that they used social media in the campaign in addition to their usual guerrilla antics because they were running out of time (i.e. deforestation, locals losing livelihood and orangutans driven to extinction).
He said that social media is fast, and that they wouldn’t have been able to garner the same amount of support from the public to achieve the desirable outcome from Nestlé in such a short span of time.
But what fueled netizens to support Greenpeace’s appeal to Nestlé? I will discuss that and more in my third and last installment of “Social Media As Our Modern Day Captain Planet”.