Guest blogger – Clare
N.C. DPPEA has been using social media for the RE3.org campaign for more than three years. The campaign’s blog first began in November 2006. It is used to easily communicate with recycling coordinators and environmental educators throughout the state. The posts provide recommended social marketing techniques, recent marketing and recycling news and data, DPPEA updates, etc.
In 2006 DPPEA also created a YouTube account. The online video sharing site allowed distribution of the new RE3.org commercials in an economical manner. One RE3.org video has had more than 12,000 views. In 2007, DPPEA uploaded the Recycle Guys commercials. One commercial has had more than 31,000 views. Typical peaks occur during April due to Earth Day publicity. The “Grasscycling” commercial was placed on YouTube’s home page in honor of Earth Day in 2008. Chart four shows the top-viewed Recycle Guys videos on YouTube.
In December 2006 DPPEA created a MySpace page and a Facebook group. At this time MySpace was the better social networking site because it was available to all, used by more people and allowed a designated URL.
Much has changed since 2006. In 2006 Facebook became available to anyone with an e-mail address. Since then the number of active Facebook users has surpassed those on MySpace, therefore the campaign now uses Facebook more. There are different ways for a Facebook user to find RE3.org: through a group, cause and page. The “page” function looks similar to a personal profile and has the ability to link updates to the campaign’s Twitter account. However, the Facebook “group” has been used longer than the Facebook “page” which is reflected in our number of followers in Table 2.
In May of 2007, DPPEA created its Flickr account for both campaigns. Flickr is an online photo sharing site. It allows people to easily download our high-quality resolution pictures and graphics. It also allows the division to share pictures of events staff attends.
In 2008 Twitter became a part of the RE3.org campaign. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows posts of only 140 characters or less. The Twitter search function allows users to see what people are saying about a topic in real time. DPPEA staff typically “tweet” about recycling, specifically in North Carolina and our local communities. In the fall of 2009 many tweets were devoted to spreading information about North Carolina’s new plastic bottle landfill disposal ban. During this time, dozens of Twitter users “re-tweeted” or composed their own tweet about the plastic bottle disposal ban. DPPEA saw a 12 percent increase in Twitter followers during the fall of 2009. See Chart five.
Most staff resources are spent updating the Facebook Page and Twitter account, which is reflected in the largest percentage increases in user participation. The spike in Twitter followers in June 2009 is unclear; however, there were several “full-time” interns during the summer that spent more hours on the social media sites than would normally be spent during the regular school semester. The spike in Facebook Page followers in July 2009 reflects a promotional “free T-shirt” campaign to attract new users to the page. There was a 50 percent increase in Fans due to the promotion.