These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find an adult who isn't active on at least one form of social media. In fact, recent research has found that more than half of the world's population (and up to 93 percent of internet users) are on social media.
Aside from using social media for the typical purposes, like staying in touch with friends, more people are now using these platforms as a means of advocating for change. If you're concerned about climate change and are wondering what you can do to help, it may be time to explore climate change activism through your own social media accounts.
When used effectively, there are plenty of strategies for digital activism you can follow to boost online climate awareness and make a real difference in the future of the planet.
Not sure how to use social media to advocate for climate justice? There's a lot you can start doing today—even if you don't have a huge following.
Understanding Climate Justice
What exactly is climate justice? Essentially, this term refers to the fact that the effects of climate change are real—and that these effects aren't always felt equally across various populations. In fact, climate change can have very different impacts on people depending on their social status, economic standing, and other factors.
Historically, the effects of climate change are felt most among underprivileged populations globally. When you advocate for climate justice, not only are you acknowledging that climate change is an issue—but that climate change disparities exist and are perhaps just as problematic.
The Power of Social Media in Advocacy
In recent years, more people have taken to social media to share their concerns about climate change and to advocate for climate justice and steps to mitigate inequalities related to climate change. Online climate awareness and environmental justice campaigns can be extremely powerful in spreading awareness.
So, what are some of the proven ways in which activists have spearheaded grassroots environmental movements? There are many examples of using social media to generate awareness that you can explore for yourself. One of the most notable is a campaign that was started by a young girl in Sweden named Greta Thunberg back in 2018. She took to social media to create the Fridays for Future campaign that gained an incredible amount of traction and eventually led to her speaking at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Her speech at the summit in 2019 woke many people (including young people) up to the realities of climate change.
Some green social media collaborations have also been effective at spreading the word about climate change and climate justice efforts. For instance, organizations have built partnerships on social media with activists, artists, and politicians to spread awareness of the issue and even create climate challenges, where people participate in environmentally friendly practices and share their efforts on their social media channels.
Regardless of which social media you use, there are some platform-specific strategies you can follow to get the most out of your efforts.
Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram are all about words and imagery, so consider using these platforms to share photos and recaps of your own efforts to fight climate change and advocate for climate justice. If you attend a local meeting, for example, be sure to share a photo of your group along with a recap of your efforts. Facebook is also a useful platform for creating and inviting friends to events, so use this to your advantage as well.
Although Twitter/X is all about brevity, you can squeeze a lot of information into a short post. You can also share photos and use hashtags to spread awareness about a specific cause. Common hashtags related to climate change on Twitter/X include #GreenNewDeal and #JustTransition, but you can even get creative and start your own.
TikTok and YouTube
These platforms are all about creating entertaining video content that is share-worthy and engaging. If you use either of these platforms, consider creating your own viral video content that will illuminate some of the realities of climate change and its impact on different populations. You can also consider doing a POV video of all the things you do to combat climate change in your everyday life, which can help others see the ways in which they could be making a difference.
Staying Updated and Informed
Maximizing social media’s impact on environmental issues can only occur if the information you're sharing is accurate and reliable. Make sure that you're taking the time to stay as updated as possible on both social media practices and the most recent climate change and climate justice information. Rely on reputable sources, such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Climate Reality Project, to get timely news when you need it. Continuous learning is not only recommended but necessary for effective advocacy.
Creating Engaging Content
When it comes to building global warming awareness online, your best course of action is to focus on creating great content. With so much content (including blog posts, videos, and photos) on the web, it can be hard to create anything that stands out.
However, there are some tips you can keep in mind when it comes to sharing sustainable practices on social media. For example, consider using lots of visual aids (including infographics, photos, and videos) to get your message across. When possible, use climate narrative storytelling to appeal to your audience's emotions; this may include sharing real stories from real individuals who have been affected by climate change.
When sharing complex figures and scientific facts, try to make the information as relatable and understandable as possible. Infographics, charts, and other visual representations of data can be especially useful in increasing the accessibility of complex topics.
Building and Engaging with a Community
One of the best things about social media is that it's a great tool for engaging with others and creating a real sense of community, even if your followers are quite literally on the other side of the world.
When sharing information about environmental campaigns and activism efforts online, be ready to have open and honest conversations while fostering productive dialogue. Whenever possible, encourage participation in social media challenges and other campaigns to create online community engagement for climate change. This includes eco-friendly social media trends. Respond to comments, direct messages, and mentions to keep the conversation going.
Collaborating with Influencers and Organizations
There are plenty of well-known influencers who regularly advocate for climate justice on their own accounts. Consider throwing your own hat in the ring by researching them and making an effort to collaborate with them in some way. Explore green influencers on Instagram, eco-conscious TikTok creators, and those creating climate dialogue on Twitter. Reach out to those with whom you feel the most connected and use partnerships to amplify your own message.
Addressing Counterarguments and Criticism
Understand that not everyone will agree with you online, and that's okay. There are a lot of misconceptions about climate justice and climate change (including that climate change isn't real), so you should be prepared for the reality of addressing climate skeptics online respectfully. Stick to constructive debate and conversation, and don't hesitate to share reputable sources to back up your points.
Measuring Your Impact
Use tools and analytics to track your engagement and reach on various social media platforms. There are plenty of third-party applications that can help you get a better understanding of the size of your audience and what you could do to reach more people.
Learn More, Today
The University of Minnesota is committed to providing leadership skills to the next generation of climate justice advocates. Explore our selection of related programs, including:
Master of Biological Sciences
Master of Professional Studies in Civic Engagement
Master of Professional Studies in Applied Sciences Leadership
Master of Professional Studies in Horticulture
Certificate in Leadership for Science Professionals
Learn more about our programs by contacting us today!