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How the World's Biggest Brands Should Communicate Sustainability on Social Media

Matthew Yeomans spoke to a packed house on Tuesday morning, sending the message that social media can no longer be seen as a tactic; it is a fundamental way of doing business — as is sustainability.

Yeomans, founder of Sustainly, is a writer and consultant with 20 years’ experience writing and editing at major publications. In his 10 years of advising companies’ online communication strategies, he authored the Social Media Sustainability Index and became one of the UK’s first social media consultancies.

He says the key to success is to view all social platforms as what they fundamentally are — publishing tools. Social media managers must think like editors by being strategic and understanding the subject matter.

  1. What does our audience care about?
  2. What have you got to say that meets their interests?
  3. How and where do they like to get their information?

Yeomans provided photo and video examples of numerous companies that have both succeeded and failed in social media campaigns. Remember: Once something is published, there is no taking it back! (i.e. hashtags should be well-researched before thrown into a tweet.) Celeb Boutique, for example, thought its fashionable dress was trending the day of the tragic Aurora movie theatre shooting in Colorado.

Aurora hashtag fail

The elephant in the room of the majority of panels at SB San Diego this year is #Millennials. For better or worse, this crowd is not very likely to visit a corporate sustainability website, but they very well might stumble upon your ad campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Snapchat. Time and time again, companies show nervousness when talking about sustainability through these channels, but this is where the opportunity lies to really make an impact. Millennials want to buy “good” products. Brands need to make their products appealing while simultaneously conveying the human-focused messages about sustainable living that resonate with them.

Bottom line: Social media and sustainability are both underpinned by authenticity, transparency, creativity and community, and these characteristics are a potent recipe for communicating sustainability.


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