Author: Mariana Di Giacomo
We all know social media works. It’s everywhere, whether you want to sell a product, show off your baking skills, or fight for social justice. But how does it fit with the #sustainability model? And in our case, how do we make #sustainability work in the #conservation field?
At SiC, we have been interested in showcasing our successes and also sharing our struggles when it comes to incorporating sustainable practices into our workflows. Social media is one of our tools to make this happen. In a highly connected world, where people need solutions to their problems at a faster rate, social media allows us to be that group of people who can help.
We currently have three SiC social media accounts, one on each major platform: “Sustainability in Conservation” on Facebook, and @siconserve on Instagram and Twitter. Our Facebook account has over 2,000 followers and just over 2,000 likes, and our Instagram account has 1,200 followers. These two platforms are the ones in which engagement is higher, with more clicks, likes, and comments. We also receive a higher amount of direct or private messages through them, something that we really appreciate as a growing community of conservation professionals focused on sustainability.
That being said, I am a Twitter girl. I believe in the power of this platform to create a movement that allows us to share with other conservation and museum professionals, but also with other people interested in sustainability in general. That’s why I want to share my experiences while managing the account, what I’ve learned, and what I hope to accomplish.
600+ followers may not sound like too many, but for a platform in which conservators are not as active, we are happy with our numbers. In the past six months, we have been averaging 20K impressions per month, coming from an average of 9K for the previous months of 2018. I took over the account in mid-2017, and in one single month, our impressions went from 400 to 2,200. Now this is not a testament of my Twitter skills, but of the interest people have on the topic. Sustainability matters, and Twitter users know it.
Our Twitter followers are most active during conferences. Those times are when we gain followers and have the highest engagement. But one cannot live on conferences only to promote such an important topic. With the social media team, we have developed two initiatives for our followers to learn about sustainability in our profession and for them to share their questions and comments. One of those initiatives is the #TuesdayTip, a post we make every Tuesday that showcases a fun or interesting tip to make sustainability something easy and fun in a conservation lab. The other one is #ForumFriday, and it consists on sharing the questions our forum subscribers have, so we can amplify them and help them get answers.
Both initiatives have proven very successful in bringing Twitter profile clicks and traffic to our website. We have seen spikes of visits to the website whenever those hashtags are used or when we promote our monthly newsletter. This shows our Twitter account is valuable and generates something in people.
I confess that what I enjoy the most is getting notifications for mentions. These may come from some of our most loyal followers (you know who you are!), our student ambassadors, or our collaborators. But once in a while we get a mention from a follower that normally doesn’t interact with us that much, and then I know that what we do matters, that they see our content and even though they don’t interact with it often, we are present in their minds.
My biggest goal for the future of SiC’s Twitter account is to get more followers from more diverse backgrounds. This means everything: different countries, languages, professions, ethnicities, genders, everything. I want us to speak to a larger audience, and not just for the sake of the big numbers, but because promoting sustainability is why we are here. We want to influence the conservation profession, but we also want to change the world. We want to leave a better planet to future generations, because a better planet not only means basic needs such as clean water and nourishing food, a better planet also means a place where disasters would not destroy our cultural heritage and our identities.
I always say that sustainability is a preventive conservation issue, and knowing I belong to a group of strong, capable, and incredibly knowledgeable women gives me the push that I need to promote caring for our planet. And if my small contribution is to amplify the voices and work of others as a manager of a Twitter account, I will know that I have added my small grain of sand to make this world a better place.