I just read the “Responsible business case studies” from Ethical Corporation. One of the case studies referenced is the “Social media and environmental campaigning: Brand lessons from Barbie” on Barbie and deforestation in the rainforest. The article describes how Greenpeace International is targeting Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), and APP’s actions in the endangered rainforest. If you can get your hand on this study (it’s free!) I recommend you reading it, as it brings interesting insights to how to use social media and campaigning. But I ask myself, how do you keep up the good work? As they say in the study– it is so easy to have a blitz of activities but once the initial flurry of actions have died out there is little to be seen.
Is it so easy for a campaign to die out that a company engaging in dubious activities, in this case rainforest de-forestation, can just sit back and wait and see? Can the Syrian government do the same? Will the people living in tents in Haiti ever get out of them? It’s human nature to get engaged and to keep momentum for a relatively short period of time. But then it is just as easy to just go back to life or to see your actions being taken over by someone else. Just look at the Occupy Wall Street movement that at least for now looks like a swallow that flew one short summer. The movement hailed as the “Facebook Revolution,” the Arab Spring, seems more and more to be to be taken over by religious permafrost- or at least how it looks from my womanly westernized point of view.
If we look at campaigning via social media, should the campaigns be organised differently? Instead of all activists acting all at once, should they be organised in “waves,” thus ensuring a constant stream of messages and pressure on the company whose practises the activists are trying to change? For example, if Greenpeace organises its activists in groups, they could then relay the work and keep pressuring the corporate in question while not exhausting their activists and their will to work. Then once group A have stopped their work, group B takes over, etc. Nothing stops other group members to get active, but the core activity for that period is carried out by the group members in question. This of course goes against our idea of a campaign that is by nature “short, strong and sassy,” but is it the way forward in particular now when more and more campaigns are using social media? It would take some different organisation from e.g. Greenpeace, but who knows, it just might work.
I only ask because the campaign mentioned above seems to have gone into hibernation while there appear to be few signs of changing practises by APP. And it looks as if like “keep up the job” is something that tends to be too short-lived…
Sara Magdalena Goldberger has more than 10 years in corporate communications, focusing on implementing procurement in the public sector before the e was added to commerce. She has worked as writer and journalist, and you can follow her at http://goldkom.wordpress.com