When it comes to increasing awareness amongst the general population of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions social media has a very important role to play. So says Ecuadoran Vanessa Pulgarin-Auguilla. Vanessa is studying for a doctorate in communications at University College Cork (UCC) and is an ambassador for foreign students there.  In addition Vanessa is working as an intern with the Irish water and gas utility company ERVIA.  

Speaking to delegates at the Interreg Europe’s Intensify Projects fourth thematic event today in Vitoria-Gasteiz (capital of Spain’s Basque country) Vanessa stated that the facts speak for themselves in terms of numbers, the impact and the activities that can be performed using social media platforms.  

In terms of numbers there are 3.2billion social media users worldwide (42% of the world’s population). Facebook is the most popular social media platform. In the USA 68% of adults are on Facebook. When someone on Facebook recommends a product 49% of consumers react positively. In terms of access 91% of users access social media via mobile devices.  

Simply put social media is everywhere, it is unavoidable, it is powerful and most importantly it is here to stay. The average person spends two hours and twenty minutes on social media networks and messaging.  

The rules for getting your message across using digital social media platforms are the same as verbal and hard copy media channels – make you message memorable, keep it short and simple, ensure it is relevant, be consistent, and ensure it makes sense. You must also build a brand, run a campaign, follow trends and connect with others.   

Social media influencers are defined as people who influence the activities and opinions of other using social media platforms. To be successful they must have credibility in their chosen industry.  The aim of being a social media influencer is to create a community of like-minded people. Examples of successful social media influencers are Greta Thunberg on the climate emergency that exists especially the #firdaysforfuture campaign which involves children taking Fridays off school throughout Europe to march for action to reduce GHG’s and other environmental issues. The actor Leonardo di Caprio is also another social media influencer with his campaign and on line petition to have whales held in captivity off the coast of Russia released before the onset of winter.  

In action Social media is very successfully used to raise funds for various charitable causes and loans for businesses (crowdfunding). Many people and businesses also maintain very successful blogs – which are a diary or journal held on a website that can be made open for public or private use.  

In conclusion that in terms of using digital social platforms to increase awareness of the need to reduce GHG’s Vanessa recommended to the project partners that they declare a call to action and get active with social media including the use of twitter with its # for targeting topics and the @for targeting specific people or entities.   

Vanessa quoted from Margaret J. Wheatley in her conclusion: “there is no greater power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about”.