Apart from aiding celebrity gossip mongers, obsessive fandom pages, condescending meme-sharers behind the screens; and shoving advertisements at us, social media these days is also being put to better use. One such example would be leveraging the medium for bigger causes such as wildlife preservation.
The rising distress of wildlife conservation is one concern which is still under wraps, where small communities supporting the cause are utilizing social media to their benefit. They use this medium to understand their audience, ask questions to create a whirlpool of answers and bringing a change in return.
Wildlife conservation groups and individual’s dependence on social media is in a way to gain from reaction to action, by actively engaging and encouraging them to support the cause. As, in the end, it’s futile to just reach the masses, but necessary to influence them.
It is no secret that celebrity involvement in any cause abets in gaining traction on social media and makes it easier to reach a larger population with their massive following and media presence.
Celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, John Abraham, Priyanka Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan Kajol, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Rahul Dravid, and Dia Mirza have initiated support to the wildlife activities of the country conducted by various organizations.
For example, Amitabh Bachchan has been the face of ‘Save Our Tiger’ campaign while Dia Mirza supported ‘Leave me alone’ the campaign initiated by wildlife magazine ‘Sanctuary Asia’
Social media has thrown multiple innovative mediums at us to share and communicate where wildlife conservation campaigns have creatively utilized each space to grab eyeballs.
Profiles on Facebook
The Wild Me Facebook app integrated animals, conservation scientists and users. The non-profit organization used data to create individual personalized profiled of animals allowing a majority to understand the ongoing study. The project used an open-source platform called WildBook, software that allowed researchers to collaborate in wildlife studies. Friend-ing a wolf on Facebook, may make it easier to appreciate and respect their existence.
Though, Wild Me is beyond using animals as symbols, it is rather about allowing people to acknowledge these animals as individuals and connecting them to the scientists working to comprehend them. To fund further development, they have commenced an Indegogo campaign, with the motive to raise $20,000. One of their goals is to be able to integrate data on more species, including cheetahs, wild dogs, and blue whales.
From Snapchat to Twitter
Similarly, the campaign #LastSelfie by World Wildlife Fund turned to Snapchat taking advantage of the fleeting nature to exemplify just how rapidly it takes for an endangered species to be wiped off from earth. It produced a series of images featuring five species and is drawing a connection between the selfies sent through Snapchat, which cannot be saved and can only be seen for a few seconds, and real-life moments. All these species voice out the same message ‘Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie.’
Snapchat mirrors the real life scenario where images are ephemeral, instantaneous and unique living for a short period, just like the endangered species. The campaign initiated users to take a screenshot of the transient image before they disappear forever and share the screenshot on Twitter.
Tweeting emoji’s for donation
If you thought you could never put the droll emojis to good use, you were wrong all along. The #EndangeredEmoji campaign launched on ‘The Endangered Species Day’ was a fundraising campaign that allowed people to tweet any existing animal emoji representing 17 endangered species found on the iOS and Android keypad to support the cause.
Participants in the campaign had to re-tweet the image and the organization WWF kept a tab on the number of endangered emojis tweeted towards the end of the month that amounts to 11 cents per emoji in your currency as a prompt to make a voluntary donation.
The emoji alphabet currently contains characters representing the spider monkey, giant panda, Asian elephant, Galapagos penguin, Antiguan racer snake, Bactrian camel, Sumatran tiger, green turtle, Amur leopard, Siamese crocodile, Bluefin tuna, blue whale, Western gray whale, African wild dog, Lemur leaf frog, and Maui’s dolphin.
— WWF UK (@wwf_uk) January 5, 2016
Social media’s cry to ‘Save Our Tiger’
India’s possibly the most widely reached campaign attached to wildlife conservation which was the brainchild of Wildlife Conservation Trust, Aircel, and NDTV – Save Our Tiger. Going on for a couple of years, Save Our Tigers gained traction from the biggest star of the country, Amitabh Bachchan.
This on-going campaign for a couple of years has been heavily active on social media and kept conducting a contest for its audience on their Facebook and Twitter pages to build a connect and keep them engaged with the cause which needs an attention for length. This campaign managed to reach over a 100 million people, raising 95 million rupees for funding of tiger conservation. Twitter was even trending with #SaveOurTiger tweets on International Tiger Day.
Call for creative campaigns
Wildlife conservation has managed to create a decent presence on social media networks but fails to receive the attention it deserves. There is an imperative need for more such campaigns to touch the issue as it is an unexplored territory.
Moreover, the major concern lies in the fact that majority fail to understand the urgency of wildlife conservation or does not understand how to act upon it. Social media hence is in need for more such ingenious, interactive campaigns which boost involvement of social media users.