After spending many years writing about the role of technology in business, I’m expanding my horizons to explore technology’s role in sustainable development. I’ll keep writing here about content marketing and technology, but I’m also starting a parallel blog on technology and sustainability.
Creating a more sustainable world is the next big challenge of technology, industry, governments and cultures. I’d love to be part this effort. And as a content marketing professional, I’ve learned a few tricks that can play a role.
Tell stories: Governments, NGOs, individuals and businesses alike are all taking steps towards a more sustainable future. But their stories are often swamped in today’s news environment. I’d like to amplify some of the positive stories of change – particularly in the area of technology, where I operate every day.
Meet the audience where they are: This is a content marketing premise that can be applied equally well to “marketing” sustainability. For example, Patagonia dedicated two pages in the middle of its winter catalog to an article by the company’s founder about the “responsible economy.” The pull-quote for this story was, “I think the simple life really begins with owning less stuff.” Sure, Patagonia shoppers already love nature, but it was refreshing to see this message happen right at the place where people are looking to buy.
Understand human psychology: It’s easy to feel a sense of helplessness when confronting the problems of climate and sustainability. Yikes, the ocean is warming? What can I do? Unfortunately, one common response is to turn away and focus on simpler or more pleasant things.
A study by C.J. Hutto and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that on Twitter, people who posted positive messages gained the most followers. (Good writing was also a contributing factor, I’m happy to say.)
That’s not to say that we should hold off on the bad news – other studies show that people pay more attention to bad news than good. But if you want to encourage people to take action and to amplify your message, it’s best not to make the case too hopeless. Give people something to move towards, rather than run away from.
If you’re interested in following this journey, visit my new blog, Technology and Sustainability. I welcome comments and suggestions.