With the recent release of the film The Social Network, a lot of attention is being focused on Facebook. But one social network of a different sort and vastly different numbers bears paying attention to if you’re a green business: Care2.
You’d be in good company if you said you’ve never heard of it. Or dismissed it as a bastion of petition signing activists. But you’d be off the mark and missing out on an important group of people to pay attention to and engage with, that could prove tremendously valuable allies.
Already a group inclined towards action, both online and in the real world, Care2 incentivizes member participation by awarding points for nearly every action you take on the site, then allowing you to redeem them for things you’d never expect: a toy for a shelter dog. Raising a farm animal humanely. Life saving oral hydration salts. Note the lack of swag for the member themselves.
While at first this may seem counterintuitive, my experience at 3rdWhale Digital Media, a green mobile app developer, showed that many people would prefer beneficial gifts to others and the environment rather than themselves. A surprising and hopeful find, wouldn't you say?
Of greatest interest to green companies is what they call C2NN - Care 2 News Network.
A social news site a la Reddit and Digg, people post articles on there, tagging them for relevant subject matter so members can find them. To be sure, there are lots of environmental and political posts. But, with thought and awareness of the community you’re participating in, posts about companies can be very well received there. I post the majority of pieces written about my clients on there, and get to the front page often.
How can you do this too?
As with other places, steer clear of hype filled empty language. Write an introduction that connects it to people’s everyday experience. And tag, tag and tag some more. Care2 offers a selection of popular tags by category. Do not choose the Business category, as these tags tend to be of the bad, evil corporation slant. I generally choose Green Lifestyle, which has many more amenable, appropriate tags.
Then watch, as people will begin to comment. Sometimes it’s the bare minimum to earn 20 credits. But often it’s positive, constructive, useful comments, indicating their support and interest in the company, or a question/feedback. Even the not so positive comments have proven fruitful, as they’ve asked what my clients haven’t thought about, or thought people would care about. Their issue gets addressed before an influential audience, and the new information makes outreach for my clients that much better for it.
Care2's own blog entries are a surprising hidden gem.
I was told that their pieces regularly get 5000 to 25000 people reading, along with a weekly news summary that goes out to 16 million people, the last figure I’ve heard (which has likely increased since then, post incentive system being put in place) In a piece written about my client FutureMark Paper, it got 99 comments, including, “It's so important to have this sort of paper available. Thanks for the article,” and “Great!!! How can consumers tell who uses FutureMark Paper?”
There was even someone with a fairly technical knowledge of paper processing and its impact, asking a question about FutureMark Paper’s use and processing of Kaolin clay (used in glossy coatings) which they were able to answer thoroughly.
Wisely, rather than dodge, FutureMark said from the start, “At FutureMark Paper, while we would love to claim a Perfect Green Paper, such solutions don't always exist. We believe that our products offer magazine and catalog publishers the maximum environmental and resource conservation benefit currently available that meets the requirements of their industry.” They then detailed what they do do that excels in the aspect asked about.
So while other businesses, green or not, dutifully sign up for Twitter and Facebook, I encourage you to venture out further, and see where it takes your business.
Readers: Where are some other lesser known places you’ve found that are beneficial for your business to have a presence? Please share below, in the comments.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, blogs weekly on green start ups of note at Triple Pundit and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.