S'pore firms go social with Earth Hour

Singapore businesses turn to social media to inform public of their plans for this year's global eco-friendly event, as some 200 companies sign up to participate.

Earth Hour 2011 will be observed by about 200 participating organizations and sponsors, many of which are utilizing IT, particularly social media, to galvanize their customer base to support the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiatives in Singapore.

Carine Seror, director of corporate engagement and Earth Hour campaign manager at WWF Singapore, said Earth Hour, which is taking place on Mar. 26, is entering its fourth year and the organization is hoping for more than 130 countries to jump on the bandwagon this year in support of the global event. Last year saw 1 billion participants from 128 countries, she added. The event encourages individuals and businesses to observe Earth Hour by turning off their lights for an hour in support of action for climate change.

This year, though, WWF Singapore is encouraging the public to go "beyond the hour", which is also the global theme for WWF, Seror in noted in an e-mail. To drive this, the organizer--together with Leo Burnett Singapore--developed an iPhone app, called 60+, which was launched on Mar. 2 to help turn the hour into an everyday initiative by encouraging people who downloaded the app to perform daily  acts to help the planet.

"These acts and achievements can then be shared among their friends on their social networks, and also tracks individual and global contributions, leading to an Earth Hour that truly goes beyond the hour and across geographic borders," the WWF representative explained.

Another participant who has gone social this year, Datacraft Asia, is using networking site Facebook as its platform of choice to raise funds for WWF Singapore. According to Catherine Tan, corporate social investment group coordinator at Datacraft Asia, the company created a mosaic comprising Earth Hour and Datacraft, and posted the image on its Facebook page to commemorate its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the region over the years.

In turn, Datacraft is pledging US$2 to WWF for every "Like" the picture receives on Facebook.

Tan told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail: "We have been using social media to promote our CSR activities, share the outcomes and showcase employee participation, but this is the first time we're officially using [Facebook] to drive donation."

Beyond Earth Hour, the company has also been turning off the lights during lunch time for two hours since Oct. 28, 2010, to reduce energy usage as well as its carbon footprint, she said, adding that Datacraft's participation in this initiative is in its fourth year.

Singapore mall operator Tangs is also using Twitter to let its "followers" know what the company is doing for Earth Hour 2011. The company on Monday sent out this tweet: "It's 5 days to EARTH HOUR 2011 and it's Earth Hour week at TANGS where we'll 'switch our lights off' on our digital platforms which include our Web site, Facebook and Twitter backgrounds and/or profile pics in our little effort to conserve energy."

Besides turning off the lights on its online presence, Tangs will also be switching off all facade lights at its Orchard mall and more than 30 percent of non-essential lights at both its Orchard and VivoCity outlets tomorrow for an hour and a half, stated the company's Web site.