Merging Social Media and Mobile Technology for Conservation

by Fatima Arif

© Fatima Arif / WWF-Pakistan

© Fatima Arif / WWF-Pakistan

The recent demographic stats show that over fifty per cent of the world population is under the age of 30. Hence, it should not come as a surprise that in general there are less and less individuals who remember the world pre-internet age and this trend is going to be on the rise in the future as well.

Erik Qualman’s quote quite fittingly explains our conundrum: “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social and mobile, the choice is how well we do it.”

Another increasing trend is the use of social media via mobile devices. Gone are the days when the device were used to serve the purpose of a portable phone only. Today, it has become an extension of individuals, carrying every kind of content that the social animal needs.

The way in which world populations were categorized has changed too. Many stats now incorporate the population of social media sites as well. One of the latest world population demographics goes like this; Facebook, China, India, Tencent, Whatsapp, Google+, Linkedin, United States, Instagram and Twitter. Here is your global village at its best! When it comes to ecommerce, it has been estimated that fifty per cent is driven by mobile globally.

So where does conservation and those working for it fit in?

A one word answer is, everywhere.

Conservation is the need of the hour and one aspect of successfully doing this is to get more and more people involved. With the social media tools combined with mobile technology, conservationist have a platform that was not imaginable before. These merged tools have helped sensitize the masses towards their environment and the need to live in harmony with it.

How is it done?

To start off it is important that the experts get in front and share their work. This is easier said than done as the key to success is not just putting your stuff out there and waiting for people to pick up on it. Everyone is sharing on the go, resulting in unprecedented competition for attention.

Being able to grab our audiences’ attention is the key to be able to get our message out. Some researchers have concluded that the attention span of humans is not more than 0.7 seconds which is even less than that of a goldfish, credited with 0.8 seconds. Therefore, as a result the first impression of our content needs to be catchy enough to grip one’s attention. Then to ensure that the people go beyond the headline, the content needs to have information presented in simple and relatable language. This seems obvious but it is in fact a common mistake. Conservationists and technical people talk in their own lingo which washes over the layman. The message is lost and so is the cause.

The right way is to tone down the language and turn it into a conversation. Pictorial and video content comes in handy here. It is predicted that by 2018 the leading digital content is going to be video content. This format fits very well with mobile technology and tends to generate more interaction with the audience.

Once engaged and you have your target audiences’ full attention, that is when you bring in the detailed scientific information and touch upon the depth of the issue(s).

Simon Mainwaring said: “Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.”

It is causes like ours who by incorporate the use of technology and social media in a positive manner can make a sustainable difference for the present and the future generations.

Fatima Arif is Senior Officer Social Media, WWF-Pakistan.

 

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