Earth Hour: Don't control social messages

Non-profit organization embraces social media even though it was initially hesitant to "let go of control" of messages on the platform, says co-founder Andy Ridley.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Businesses should ease up and learn to embrace social media tools so they can better communicate with their customers and the public.

"Don't control the message [on social media]," said Andy Ridley, executive director and co-founder of Earth Hour, who was speaking at a panel discussion at the Ideas for a Better World Forum organized by the Singapore International Foundation, here Friday.

Noting that learning to embrace social media can be empowering for organizations, Ridley recalled the time when Earth Hour decided to open its campaigns to social groups. There were fears within the organization that there would not be sufficient people to police comments surrounding its cause.

"In the end, [the platform] was not abused," he said. He gave the example of a dissenter who complained on Facebook about the cause for Earth Hour, and the community stood up to explain why they believed in the event. Held annually, Earth Hour encourages individuals and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour in support of action for climate change.

The company uses Yammer, an enterprise social network tool, to power its internal communications and allows members from across the world share ideas as well as gives the organization more control over messages sent between members.

"By learning to embrace social media, it can be empowering for organizations," Ridley said.

He also noted that organizations should listen to their audience instead of only pushing their agenda. Often, the messages a company is "obsessed" over are dull and will not attract the population it is trying to reach, he added.

"The challenge is not [whether you] can or how you can connect to the public but to offer reasons for them to connect," he added.

To promote this year's Earth Hour and involve the public, the organization has set up a "YouTube challenge" where regular people can post up videos of challenges which they will fulfill when a certain number of people commit to their pledge.

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