How Social Media Analytics Help Nonprofits Engage in the Climate Conversation
As one of the hottest summers on record comes to an end, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy released the Clean Power Plan, a program designed to decrease carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years. The plan was created to combat climate change and the consequences that are already beginning to plague many regions of the United States and across the globe. Announced via press conference, it was publicized on the White House website and quickly spreading via news sources and social media users. While the plan is focused on agricultural, industrial, and power production activities, its success will depend on clean energy nonprofits contributing to viable and innovative solutions. Engaging in the social media conversation may help businesses become part of the President’s Clean Power Plan and lead the US towards clean energy solutions.
— National Wildlife (@NWF) August 19, 2015
From May 1st to July 31st almost 270k posts were written about the Clean Power Plan. In comparison, over 220k posts were written from August 1st to the 9th with a peak occurring on August 3rd, the day of the release. Roughly 6k posts documenting the release of the plan were written by news sources, and approximately 95% of all posts were written on Twitter.
A Topic Wheel highlights the wide range of issues that are related to the Clean Power Plan and are part of the ongoing conversation. Social media users comment on the plant, alternative energy sources, carbon emissions, and health impacts.
News sources and nonprofits played an important role in the conversation, with a wide variety of organizations actively contributing information. Not surprisingly, many news sources were top influencers. In general, the most influential authors who joined the Clean Power Plan conversation include news sources (Forbes, New York Times, and The Guardian), educational institutions (University of Chicago and Columbia University), and politicians (Barack Obama, John McCain, and John Kerry.
In addition to variation in influence based on users’ Klout Scores, organizations varied by the number of posts they wrote. The most active news sources included MSN, Reuters, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.
Although not they are not top influences, nonprofits were also busy tweeting about the plan. The Oregon Environmental Council (@oeconline), Moms Clean Air Force (@CleanAirMoms), and the League of Conservation Voters (@LCVoters) tweeted prolifically.
Looking at Top Mentions, it appears as though social media users were also busy engaging nonprofits. Those that were mentioned the most frequently include National Geographic (@natgeo) with over 4.3k mentions, Sierra Club (@seirraclub) with over 1.6k mentions, and the National Resources Defense Council (@nrdc) with over 900.
In addition to determining which news sources and nonprofits are engaging in the conversation, it is important to learn about the social media users. Interestingly, 58% of the audience is male and 91% of authors with identifiable age are 35 and older. An absence of young contributors presents an opportunity for organizations to reach out to youths and increase audience engagement.
Not surprisingly, the audience discuss the release of the plan has a strong interest in climate change and related topics including energy, the environment, and politics. They are 296 times more interested in clean energy, 291 times more interested in solar energy, and 168 times more interested in renewable energy than the general Twitter audience. They are also 41 times more interested in conservation, 32 times more interested in wildlife, and 21 times more interested in ecology. Finally, they are 376 times more interested in political campaigns, 92 times more interested in the White House, and 25 times more interested in progressive politics.
Analyzing the social media conversation surrounding President Obama’s Clean Power Plan provides nonprofits with valuable insights into how they can engage in the climate change conversation. While becoming a top influencer may not be feasible for all nonprofits, becoming an active and influential member of the online community is an attainable goal. Social media analytics allow organizations to monitor trends in the conversation and the audience in order to identify popular topics of discussion and reach out to disengaged social media users. This informed and multifaceted approach will increase organizations’ mentions, retweets, followers, and ultimately, their social media presence and future business opportunities.