The 21st century is unveiling to us a dynamic world, an environment where society is constantly working to achieve the best standard of living around the globe. The way we live and conduct business operations is constantly changing. Past the millennium milestone and into the 21st century the improvement in technology and innovation has led the world into a new network of resources, ranging from quicker communications, more efficient transport, and longer lasting infrastructure to name but a few. Communications themselves have evolved into a whole new ‘virtual network’, which influences us everyday. Social media, in particular, has become an invaluable tool to promote a message in a powerful and influential way.
Social media is growing in popularity more and more every day and it is available for all of us to take advantage of. The bench mark in the social media industry has been set by a handful of leading companies such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. Twitter, the micro blogging site, is a perfect example to focus on. Across the world Twitter has 250 million users as of 2011 and the same number of tweets are generated every day. Whilst socialising with friends and family, Twitter also helps audiences connect on a ‘personal’ level with individuals they would not usually be able to meet. This includes celebrities, whose large fan base brings hordes of followers who specifically follow to keep up with all the stories about their idol.
While some celebs use their Twitter status as an extension of their media profile, there are some who use this as a way to engage with their audience on issues close to their heart – and green issues are now at the forefront!
Leonardo DiCaprio is an excellent example of a celebrity who has taken advantage of Twitter to promote sustainability and green causes. He posts regular messages regarding environmental issues through his Twitter profile, in order to raise awareness within the wider community. A majority of his tweets are about conservation and protection of the environment. One of his most recent tweets highlights the impact of deforestation on the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild. More recently, he reposted a follower’s comment encouraging Apple to be part of conservation efforts, as all their operating systems were named after the ‘Big 5’! His contribution is a hugely reassuring indication of the positive effect social media can have on the community.
Another example – Arianna Huffington, the President and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post- AOL Media Group, is a famed columnist who has built a bit of a reputation for herself by sharing her views on sustainability issues which help lead to a better community. She uses social media to aid the process. She is a highly influential figure in the media spotlight and is one of a few who recently made it into the Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. She posts many messages on Facebook and other social media, with a large following “liking” her messages. These messages and many others go into detail on topics such as the financial markets, political debates and much more that is generating a spotlight in areas regarding sustainability and the general welfare of society. She promotes these issues very well and has also taken part in many award programmes that recognise sustainability.
There are many other famous figures who conduct similar activities to promote a better world through social media, including world leaders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Recently on Facebook, the Governor of California backed the need for green energy policies, where he made a speech at the energy innovation summit in Washington DC this year on the topic. He has also been backing international solar panel initiatives.
While some celebrities are now quite media-savvy, there exist a fair amount of inspirational people who continue to stay away. Sir David Attenborough, Lifetime Achievement honouree at the International Green Awards 2010, has influenced millions through his ‘Life’ BBC series but does not involve himself with social media. His ‘unofficial’ account (a.k.a fake alias) has strong presence on the site, so one can only imagine the support he would actually garner!
It is important to recognise green individuals and organisations across the globe and to notice that while the majority of them use twitter to aid their PR, however there are a certain few who do not. It is individuals like the latter that deserve to be promoted – people who have used their media status and presence to vocalise their support for pertinent causes. They deserve to be rewarded for the efforts they make to help contribute to a better society. Celebrities are a cult on their own – the important aspect is that they engage with an audience that are interested only to hear/read what they say. They cut across all sections and niches in society, thus engaging with a widespread audience.
This year, the International Green Awards have introduced the ‘Best Green International Celebrity’ Award, with the objective of seeking out a media figure that the public sees as a responsible citizen. You can cast your vote for any of the 15 global nominees here.
By Alex Green