Converting Social Media Content into Public Action

Nicole Velasquez

Sustainable Social Media

Globalization and rapidly evolving technology have given rise to a digital marketing revolution which has enabled individuals and businesses alike to communicate instantly across borders, industries, and ideologies. Social media is at the forefront of these communications with its unique targeting capabilities, tracking mechanisms, and exceptional ability to quickly reach a vast amount of people at little to no cost. This has galvanized a new frontier in academia as researchers seek to understand and optimize every facet of social media strategy, from general messaging and targeting techniques down to the incremental value of variance in details such as the call to action, color, and time of day.

The fruits of this research have empowered some organizations to successfully generate public interest and action on environmental issues at an unprecedented rate. However, smaller organizations often lack the resources and experience necessary to access or capitalize on this body of research and end up left behind as they struggle to navigate this ever-changing digital environment.

My goal is to synthesize existing research on social media optimization, content strategy, and virality into a widely-applicable playbook for environmental non-profits, community groups, and activists. The core of the playbook will be my own expansion of Dr. Jonah Berger’s STEPPS framework for virality to develop actionable organic techniques to generate awareness and engagement online informed by existing research on changing American values towards sustainability and successful targeting and messaging strategies for green consumers. This framework will have an explicit focus on driving conversions in the form of donations, signatures on petitions, attendance at town halls, and other public action.

In addition to the playbook, I will create a toolkit with workflow checklists, templates for the described concepts, and exemplary content. My hope is that the products of this project will help bridge the gap between academic research and on-the-ground teams in order to provide some guidance to these organizations on how to leverage the power of social media to drive public action using only organic reach with targeted messaging.