How social media helped Planet Positive deliver a free national sustainability campaign

Steve Malkin

Steve Malkin

CEO & Co-founder of Planet Positive

Steve is one of the founders of Planet Positive and a specialist in communication. Steve developed the Planet Positive brand, protocol and certification as a means to inspire people into action on climate change and sustainability. He now heads the UK operation and communications worldwide. He is a serial entrepreneur having launched a number of businesses most recently, a successful carbon and sustainability consultancy. The latter, dcarbon8, was sold to Deloitte in February 2010, which has allowed Steve to focus on the worldwide development of the Planet Positive brand and certification.

On Twitter: @StevePositive      On LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/stevemalkin


1. For people who haven’t heard anything about www.7days2sustainability.com what is it all about?

7 Days to Sustainability is our free, national campaign designed to deliver expert advice and best sustainable practice. At Planet Positive, we can see first-hand that sustainability is good for business. It reduces operational costs, engages employees, enhances your brand and drives new business.

Whilst Planet Positive’s core offering is a robust sustainability Business Certification, we wanted to create a campaign that would enable any organisation, from a corporate to a SME, to access the best advice we have found. And we wanted to give it away for free. Furthermore, if you are communicating environmental and business efficiency messages, you have to use similarly sustainable platforms. Hence our decision to use digital media and channels to market the 7 days campaign.

2. How did you use Social Media to launch the campaign?

It’s funny really, how times have changed from when your marketing and distribution needed resource-heavy national advertising, print and brochures to now, when you can roll out a digital campaign at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the carbon, energy, water and waste. Planet Positive has over 8,400 twitter followers, which proved to be a vocal community providing valuable word of mouth. We also promoted the campaign through the campaign’s corporate partners, who include Deloitte, Land Securities, M&S, Not Just Cleaning, ProcServe, Prologis, Salesforce and VolkerWessels UK. The extended reach their social channels offered meant we could talk to a far greater audience than on our own.

3. How did you use content to fuel promotion of the campaign?

In addition to raising awareness of 7 Days through social media channels, we are also able to share stories and testimonies of participants. Sharing the experiences of those who had benefited from taking part through case studies, blog posts and interaction on social networks allowed other businesses to gain an understanding of the programme’s aims, and the benefits that they could expect.

We also used social media to fuel some guerrilla marketing events around central London, including our Fuel for Cyclists mornings when we would hand out 7 Days to Sustainability branded cereal bars to cyclists to thank them for using environmentally friendly transport. In this instance, tweeting about the event was picked up by money saving expert Martin Lewis; and the photo opportunity these events provided offered great, lively content for our Facebook page.

4. The campaign was a huge success, how did you measure the success you saw from social channels?

During the week when we re-launched the new and improved 7 Days to Sustainability Programme we clocked up around 600,000 impressions through Twitter. Website traffic on the day the programme officially re-launched was 568% higher than average, helped by increased activity on Twitter and an article on the Guardian’s Sustainable Business site. Achieving this level of promotion without investing in a traditional marketing campaign enabled a very low cost and successful launch.

Participants also gained from this exposure, as it helped them to communicate the steps they were taking to integrate sustainability initiatives into their business operations. Brand enhancement through sustainability credentials and the opportunity for new business that it brings are an area that many more organisations can benefit from.

We also used an online survey platform to get detailed feedback from participants, and the first and most important question was to quantify our Net Promoter Score, which I am very proud to say is currently at 76.2%.

5. Is there by any advice you would give to companies who want to use social media to launch a new initiative?

Social is the key word here. Generating positive word-of-mouth is crucial to success, so you have to communicate with your audience in an honest, straightforward, and accessible manner. Once people start to engage, their positive feedback will provide greater justification for others to join than anything you can directly put out. Case studies and real world examples really resonate with our SME audience, as they want to know that it will work for their own situation. So we listened to our feedback from the trial period, which steered the refreshed content for launch. And we promoted those participants who became case studies across our sites and social media, to mutual benefit.

So the best advice really is to get out there and get engaged, don’t just treat social media like it’s a traditional distribution channel. Finally, if you’re interested in engaging your audience with a strong sustainable business message, we include plenty of social media advice within the 7 Days to Sustainability programme, so sign up for free at 7days2sustainability.com.

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