#EarthHour:Turn Your Social Media Power On For Earth Hour 2016

This Saturday, March 19, you should turn off the lights. No, this has nothing to do with daylight saving time. Actually, it’s a lot simpler than DST: Instead of turning the clock to save daylight, you’re turning off the lights to save the planet.

Okay, let’s rewind a bit.

I see what you did there doctor who gif

This Saturday, between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm local time, is Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a global environmental movement by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and devices for one hour.

Earth Hour was started in 2007 as a lights-off event in Sydney. Today, the event spans 172 countries and territories worldwide. Turning off the lights for one hour is, of course, merely a symbol for creating long-lasting change both in consumer behaviour and legislation.

Switch On Your Hashtag Power

Earth Hour 2016 is all about switching off the lights while “switching on your social media power”, so it seemed fitting for Walls.io to support WWF Germany with a social wall dedicated to the #EarthHour hashtag.

We had a little chat with Markus Winkler, WWF Germany’s Online Campaigner, about how the WWF is using social media for their #EarthHour campaign.

This is the first time you’re using Walls.io for the yearly WWF event Earth Hour. What made you decide to set up a social wall and where does it fit with your campaign?

Ever since the Earth Hour started 10 years ago, online was always an important part of the movement. People from all over the world want to show that they are a part of the Earth Hour and demonstrate their efforts to stop climate change.

In recent years, social media has grown rapidly and has become a central part of the Earth Hour communication. It has grown increasingly diverse as well. Our supporters started using more channels, and our way to communicate changed as well.

We started out with our website and Facebook. Then came Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and a live blog. This year we added a photo campaign on Instagram into the mix.

While we’ve previously embedded a Twitter wall on our campaign website, that just wasn’t enough anymore to cover the diversity of messages coming in. It was time for a social media wall that can show posts from a variety of channels.

Where and how are you displaying your social wall?

We embedded the social wall at the heart of our online communication, on our campaign website, wwf.de/earthhour. It’s displayed right under our main tool — a photo sharing tool, which allows our supporters to share stories about animal species and how they are endangered by climate change.

This way our supporters can instantly see that their message is spreading worldwide, and that they are a part of a global movement.

How and where are you promoting the hashtag #earthhour?

More or less everywhere. Of course, we’re using it in all of our social media posts. But also in our videos, our press releases and our information packs for participating supporters, cities or businesses. Last year, we also had a huge hashtag at our main event here in Germany at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Photo from the 2015 WWF Earth Hour in Berlin © Peter Jelinek / WWF
WWF Earth Hour 2015 in Berlin © Peter Jelinek / WWF

Unfortunately, mistakes happen: This year we completely forgot to print #EarthHour on our posters. But we’re confident that we’re doing everything in our power to promote the hashtag on other channels.

How are you handling the intricacies of promoting an event that is all about turning lights and devices off via social media — which, essentially, needs electricity to be used?

We won’t save our planet simply by turning off our lights and devices. #EarthHour is about spreading the message and reminding people that, if we want to stop climate change, we need to start acting now — not only in that one hour but beyond that, in our everyday lives. It’s a good time to start thinking about this. That’s what #EarthHour is about.

But we are really serious about turning off all our electronic devices. We will stop our Earth Hour communication on all of our social media channels for one hour and enjoy the time by candlelight. Maybe we will miss an opportunity for more reach or engagement, but that’s okay, I guess.

I think it’s nice to see that not everything in social media has to always be all about reach. Sometimes, it’s simply more important to set an example for saving the environment than to squeeze every last bit out of your campaign.

Are you going to turn off the lights for #EarthHour? Tweet us — just don’t do it during that one hour on Saturday. 😉