According to a recent study, Hong Kong has the worst light pollution in the world. Environmentally-aware residents are keen to reduce their city’s carbon footprint by participating in Earth Hour, the largest global, symbolic mass participation event mobilizing people to take action on climate change.  Started by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2007, Earth Hour asks participants to turn off their non-essential lights for an hour on the 23rd of March. In 2013, Earth Hour in Hong Kong attracted a record high of over 6,000 people, who pledged to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“Earth Hour is about understanding how small efforts like switching off non-essential lights can help to make an impact on our environment”, says Alicia Chang Yeh, Development Director for WWF Hong Kong.

Engaging Wider Audiences Through Social Media Campaigns

This year, the team has decided to adopt a “digital first strategy” to campaign for its cause and to bring passionate supporters together through social media. WWF invested in twice as many social media platforms compared to last year. “Learning from last year’s experience, we understand that different communities behave differently on social media platforms,” explains Yeh. ”In order to increase our outreach and to raise awareness, we need to adapt to different platforms’ characteristics. Also, we want to increase engagement with our fans.”

In order to promote Earth Hour to local communities, the WWF team ran a Facebook campaign, an Instagram competition and a mini Google Maps site to boost awareness and discussions on various channels.

At the same time, the team partnered with a few local celebrities to create online videos to encourage sign ups. Fans who liked their Facebook page were able to watch these exclusive YouTube videos. Results have been impressive; WWF has increased their Facebook fans tenfold compared to last year.

earth hour karen fangate tab

Understanding Fan Behavior – The Key to Successful Outreach

The WWF team uses social media to spread their message because it’s cost effective and has a massive reach. The team also recognized that social media efforts were more effective when they had a strong understanding of fan behavior, using Meltwater’s Social Marketing Suite to assist them in understanding community behavior, such as when fans are most active, as well as what type of content the community preferred based on their responses.

Posting at the right time and creating content that the community preferred helped to increase the organization’s reach and also helped the material go viral. WWF was able to reach out to many more new fans and achieve their goal of advocating the importance of taking steps to a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. As a result, they have increased in relevant conversation volume in social media by fivefold.

Earth Hour will Inspire Movements Around Environmental Change

Alicia Chang Yeh says future plans for promoting new initiatives by the WWF include larger investment in their digital strategy. “It is encouraging to see Earth Hour results have improved year on year,” says Yeh, “We do believe this is a right step in our long term campaign for tackling climate change.” WWF hopes the success of this initial campaign will inspire people to think about their behaviors and how they will impact the world we live in.

Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday 23 March, 2013 at 8:30 PM to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. The event began in Sydney in 2007, when 2 million people switched off their lights. By 2013, Earth Hour had created history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed, with participation across 152 countries, in over 7,001 cites and on every continent, including the world’s most recognized man-made marvels and natural wonders in a landmark environmental action.

WWF is a global conservation organisation, with a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. WWF-Hong Kong has been working since 1981 to deliver solutions for a living planet through Conservation, Footprint and Education programmes.