How does Greenpeace International leverage social media
for social good?


Soenke Lorenzen is Media Analyst for Greenpeace International. We caught up with him prior to his participation in our recent Social Success Mic-Up, during Social Media Week London, to find out how Greenpeace utilise social media networks in their mission to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect the environment and promote peace.

On Twitter: @Soenke_Lorenzen

How do you think Social has changed the way your non-profit does business?

We don't do business, we mean business. Social media has enabled us to engage in an actual “conversation” with our followers and we can shape and adapt that conversation to benefit our campaigns. Every social media post, or social media mention is a campaign in itself, always sitting within the frame of the larger campaign. In this sense, social media is a great tool for raising awareness and mobilizing on smaller and bigger issues within a campaign. With traditional media, the “if it bleeds, it leads” approach meant that we were very focused on the grim stuff. However, social media moved us to focus more on happy/good news/solution stories. Social media thrives on positive stories, and it’s making us rethink the way we present the change we want. Greenpeace promotes solutions and good news a lot more than we did in the past, simply because we now have an outlet for them.

On which social channel do you achieve your highest engagement?

I guess Facebook is the natural answer, because it has a larger audience and therefore leads to higher engagement. But there are a few examples of events where the Twitter engagement was actually higher, since the conversation was actually taking place on Twitter rather than on Facebook. To a certain extent, the quality of engagement on Twitter can be much higher, especially when we ask people questions. Overall, it depends on what you call ‘engagement’ - if you need to count likes and shares, we could stick to cute baby animal pics and win every time, but since there wouldn’t be much depth, we try to stay away from this

What non-profits or regular businesses do you look up to for social strategy? And why?

In general, I think we are looking more for different tactics rather than different strategies. It’s more power users and large pages we look at. I Freaking Love Science comes to mind as a large page with excellent content we often emulate. We also take a lot of cues from Upworthy’s methods of sharing and making headlines.

Global reach and awareness is now closer than ever for global causes, what do you think charities and non-profits need to do to get their message across?

I am not sure if reach and awareness are actually closer. Creating awareness amidst a lot of noise on the web is actually becoming increasingly difficult. I would say that in order to be heard and listened to, an organisation should be: trustful, authentic, legitimate and transparent.

Where do you see engagement and support for non-profit causes changing in the future?

There are theories that say that engagement will become (or has already become) more episodic. Due to an increasing amount of leisure choices, less time available and so on, volunteers might become less engaged for the long-term and more for the short-term (referred to as “episodic volunteering” in the literature). Other theories say that engagement will become more interactive/empowered in the future due to new (online) tools that allow supporters to organise themselves (crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, etc.) These tools also enable new forms of support e.g. high skilled tasks could be sourced from the crowd.

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