Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate & Environmental Stewards.
You have a love of the natural world and a desire to keep it nice. Lately, you’ve been anxious about how urgent our climate crisis has become. Even if you can’t participate with Greta Thunberg in a public march or testify at the Statehouse for a particular piece of legislation, you still can do something about the environment.
As an individual with lots of friends online, you can use your social media voice on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to advocate for climate and the environment. You can also check out ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards, focused on supporting a wide range of existing organizations to multiply their local impact with partnering efforts.
Here’s my experience trying to do what I’m suggesting you might like to try. Since becoming active on ACES’ marketing and communications team, I decided to learn about Twitter as a way that I might personally help the cause. So in October 2018, impressed by the power of Twitter in the public discourse, I decided to begin tweeting as myself, not as ACES, but congruent with their ideals.
Here’s a little bit about the things I’ve learned and what I think it has accomplished. First, I opened a Twitter account by going online and signing up. It began pretty awkwardly as I learned to compose and send tweets, follow others who tweeted topics I was interested in and began liking and retweeting others’ good content.
I slowly learned the value of using a hashtag word such a #climate to reach others who look for their hashtags of interest. Similarly, I learned you can copy your tweet specifically to another person by using their easy-to-find Twitter handle.
For example, @GinaNRDC is Gina McCarty, who is the former head of the EPA, now heading up the National Resources Defense Council. Or @DianaDiZoglio is the Twitter handle of Greater Newburyport’s state senator.
Soon, I discovered Twitter’s analytics pages and began doing more of what worked to attract readers and less of what fell flat. As I learned more, my content began to change as I developed more interesting sources.
On a typical day, I like to read morning stories in a few different news or magazine sources, or do a quick search for climate ideas or art that is topical and timely.
Then, I write several tweets relating it, if possible, to local or state climate issues. I strive to have a bigger-picture issue related locally and to include a photo or graphics as eye catchers. Often, I’ll retweet someone else’s good ideas.
Today, my profile has evolved to “GreenTalkDaily Leaning Forward on Climate & Environment – News, Ideas & Culture”
After a year, I’m following 1,144 other tweeters. I’m followed by 420 people or groups. Most are individuals like me but some are prominent, including one international climate agency, as well as several scientists, people in the media and experts with much bigger followings.
Now, I’m averaging 2,200 readers a day with high-water marks above 10,000 on a given day. It’s not a viral thing yet and it’s hard to know definitely, but I hope readers find something useful or motivational in their own efforts at helping climate.
My goal for the first year was to learn how to use this tool effectively and maybe to find a voice or theme that could help move forward my climate concerns. I think it’s been working so far.
It may be an idea you’d like to consider, not just on Twitter but on whatever social platforms or letters to the editor you prefer.
If you want to help the environment, why not specifically resolve in 2020 to communicate about it? Start a podcast like Dyke Hendrickson’s “Life Along the Merrimack.”
Post on Facebook or Instagram, cross-post some ideas to friends. You can be and maybe are already active on social media. Why not establish or expand your personal brand as a climate communicator? Your voice can make a difference.
Meanwhile, check out Twitter for a few ideas, and join the ACES Facebook group, www.aces-alliance.org, or take a few nature photos to post on Instagram. Begin your own climate and environmental storytelling and help rescue the future.
Ron Martino lives in Newburyport and is online at GreenTalkDaily@ronmartino4.