Digital activism has never been easier. And now social Websites wants their visitors to make changes to benefit the environment in real life.
It's easy to create a Facebook group, but how can social media be used for real activism? The theme for one of the last panels of the day at Green:Net09
conference was "The Green Web Effect" and among the panel members were people involved in different environmental projects, all using the social tools of the Web in doing them. But the transition from online engagement to physical change isn't the easiest one to make.
"The bottom line is to deliver information that can make people do better decision. There's a big science challenge, but the second half is the consumer piece. How do you give people information that resonates? We're up to billions of marketing money everyday. It is a key challenge," said Dara O'Rourke, CEO of startup Website GoodGuide
One problem is making environmental issues a personal thing for the general audience. Health and money are important issues for most of us, and by connecting environmental issues to those topics it can be done, according to the panel.
"You have to see examples. We're working in Canada around mothers, the environment and kids. Moms are more caring about the environment than dads. You find that there are touch points," said Ron Dembo, Founder and CEO of Zerofootprint
Erin Carlson is Director of Yahoo for Good
. She discussed how different target audiences need different strategies and that you need to find "the dessert and the broccoli" to get the message through.
"Information is not enough. It needs to be in the right tone. What's in it for me? Surprises work very well for the trendy people. Saving money and saving time are also pieces people responded to. People are not responding to gloom and doom and they don't respond to celebrities talking about green. Serve up the dessert and then sneak some broccoli on the plate," she said.
Peer pressure is also one big driver when changing people behavior.
"Rather than driving traffic to your site it could be better to let them spread your software between each other," said Kevin Marks, Developer Advocate for OpenSocial at Google.
Members of the panel included Erin Carlson, Director of Yahoo for Good,Yahoo, Dara O'Rourke, CEO, GoodGuide, Jason Karas, Founder and President, Carbonrally.com, Ron Dembo, Founder and CEO, Zerofootprint and Kevin Marks Developer Advocate for OpenSocial, Google. Moderating the discussion was Alexis Madrigal, Staff Writer, Wired.com.