The Importance of User-Generated Content & Passion

The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada is the largest intact, coastal temperate rainforest left in the world.  It is home to the spirit bear, six million migratory birds, and many unique species of plants all coexisting in a space roughly the size of Ireland.  Shockingly, until very recently there were no plans to preserve this area.

As a result, Greenpeace Canada, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club of B.C. jumped into action and launched the “Keep the Promise: Save the Great Bear Rainforest” campaign in the fall of 2008.  A group called Capulet Communications was chosen to head the social media aspects in order to generate awareness about the campaign in order to gather signatures for the petition.

Capulet made use of various social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and blogs.  Below they discuss the methods/outlets utilized:

  • Save the Great Bear Rainforest Facebook Group: Our Facebook group attracted over 4,000 members and became the hub for our online activities. In addition to participating in our other online activities, like signing the online petition, we encouraged our members to donate their status message for one day to the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • Bear Your Soul Flickr Contest: More than 200 Flickr users participated in this contest and submitted photographs illustrating why the BC government needed to honor its agreement to conserve the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • Local Blogger Outreach: We targeted B.C. bloggers writing on ecological or environmental issues and approached them to cover the campaign. Many did, including DeSmogBlog, OutdoorVancouver.ca, VancouverBC.com, and Hummingbird 604.
  • We also maintained a Twitter feed and helped promote a two-minute Youtube video.

Importance of User-Generated Content & Passion

The way Flickr and blogs were utilized in this effort is notable because each allowed everyday people to be a part of the movement by adding their own creative content to the mix.  People supporting the cause and who are obviously passionate about writing, photography, nature, or a combination of these, could really feel that they added something of themselves (i.e. their own personal photos, stories, or opinions about the Great Bear Rainforest) to the effort.  This is an added bonus to the usual monetary donations or signatures on a petition needed from patrons that are vital for causes like this to get what they need accomplished.  In this case it was nice that through these social media channels people had the ability to give a little more.  Additionally, as discussed in a previous post, this type of user-generated content helps to build overall trust and credibility in a cause.

Happy Ending

In the end, more than 16,000 British Columbians signed the petition and the government kept its promise.

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