This past Sunday, September, 21st, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York City to participate in the People’s Climate March, to protest for leaders to take swifter action against climate change. This protest comes ahead of the Climate Summit which will take place today in the UN’s headquarters, which will bring over 100 leaders together.
Turnout to the march was a huge success, with original estimates being around 100,000. The reality was much different. The march drew at least three or four times the estimate. Early estimates talked about 300,000 people, but the final count came out to be more than 400,000. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton attended the march, as well as notorious figures like former US Vice President Al Gore and current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Similar protests were held in cities across the globe, making it one of the biggest climate change protest in history. More than 2800 events were held in 166 countries. While the event was widely covered on social media (surprise surprise) the same cannot be said of traditional news media outlets. While TV channels did very limited or no coverage of the event, social media channels made up for it online. Mashable and other channels provided live updates of the event, while Democracy Now showed everything online.
I don’t know whether it was purposeful or not, but failing to cover one such a big and important event like climate change, which tends to be overlooked or barely covered on traditional media, was a big misstep for television channels. But despite the conscious or unconscious efforts to ignore the event, it turned out to be a huge success. The fact that it was considered to be the largest protest for climate change ever just proves how little influence traditional forms of media like television have, as well as how powerful a tool social media is.
See more: What is Social Media Management
This might not come as a surprise to many, the UN being one. According to the UN’s own portal, the idea to market the event was going to be solely through social media. Efforts to spread awareness began six months ago with the creation of the hashtag #climate2014. The hashtag has received an exposure of than half a billion impressions since then, a figure that must have increased significantly as it is from September 15th, too long ago for social media. And we all know how fast communication moves on social media channels.
A noteworthy campaign was the 22 days, 22 solutions. But it was not only the UN’s social media team organizing campaigns to bring awareness of the event. Brands like Unilever and Upworthy also joined the UN’s advertising efforts on social media. A joint campaign by them engaged more than 10 million people in its first week only, with each post or piece of content receiving more than 7 million impressions.
Social Media will also be ever-present in the Climate Summit. According to the UN itself, the Climate Summit will feature a social media zone in order to promote and encourage the usage of this very important channel. The goal of this is to get leaders to express their views and share to the world any new update in the talks. Likewise, a large screen will be displayed at the event with messages from people all over the world.
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