Content Going Green: Did COP26 Inspire Business Sustainability Or Just Encourage A Future Of ‘Greenwashing’?
In this guest article, social media marketing and immersive technology in business specialist, Rebecca Barnatt-Smith ponders whether COP26 inspired business sustainability or just encouraged a future of greenwashing.
On the back of 2021’s yearly climate change conference, it’s no surprise that the world’s most influential meeting yet, COP26, has rustled some feathers in the corporate world.
After suggesting that people must ‘work together to deliver’ on new sustainability goals, smart marketers have seized the chance to be part of the movement and make sure that their brand is on the right side of history.
From switching up their branding to adhering to new eco-friendly values, consumers can be sure to see a sustainability-driven change amongst their favourite brands post COP26.
Read on to find out why ‘going green’ with your content strategy has become a new trend across the corporate sector, and why ‘greenwashing’ could ruin a digital sustainable movement.
Why Was COP26 So Important For Smart Marketers?
COP26 has been defined by experts as the ‘world’s last chance to take action on climate change’. With a window of action narrowing and the force of the pandemic putting pressure on sustainable resources, leaders used this year’s meeting to discuss the planet’s ‘green recovery’ in more detail than ever before.
Standing for ‘Conference Of The Parties’ COP26 was stretched over a 12 day period, where world leaders, climate activists and experts congregated to discuss this year’s main goals of, achieving a world net-zero by 2025 and creating a strategy to improve the lives of those already affected by climate change.
In fact, this event was so important that the #COP26 was mentioned over 1 million times on Twitter and was engaged with 73.8 million times on TikTok, making it one of the most talked-about events of 2021.
Not only did popular influencers and sustainable opinion leaders such as Emma Watson take to the socials to share their opinions and experiences regarding COP26, but popular brands that embraced the eco-friendly event and newsjacked their content strategy to stand with sustainability saw a significant increase in engagement.
Could it Transform The Marketing Industry?
COP26 is just one of many sustainable factors that have enhanced the trending topic of ‘going green’ online. With new GenZ consumers more focused on the future of the environment than ever before, it has never been more important for brands to make sustainable changes to their sourcing, production and most importantly their voice on social platforms.
In fact, 20% of business leaders have switched to sustainable branding from consumer pressure alone, with an extra 36% revealing that going green creates growth opportunities amongst a climate focussed audience.
The Modern-Day ‘Consumer’
If we look at the modern-day consumer, it’s clear to see that the importance of COP26 has only enhanced sustainable consumer behaviour. Post COP26, 75% of millennial consumers said that they consider sustainability when making a purchase, therefore making this modern audience not so passive and much more active.
If we compare old and new consumers, we can see that the rise in the digitalisation of conversation has created a much more active generation of consumers that seek meaningful experiences and are much more likely to consider the ‘total value of their experience rather than low prices’.
The birth of the ‘active consumer’ alone is enough to encourage brands to rethink their strategy and brand values, but it’s important trending topics such as COP26 that are calling for more brand transparency and affiliation with sustainable movements.
So, to answer your question. Yes, COP26 will most definitely contribute to the future of marketing. As an industry that is constantly evolving alongside both technology and new digital trends, the success of a marketing strategy relies heavily on how in touch you are with both your audience and what they are talking about.
If your prime target leads fall into the genzenial category of consumers, it might be time to go green with your branding, content strategy and product production to keep in line with customer gratifications and do your bit for the future of the planet.
Could We See A Future Of Greenwahsing Post COP26?
Here is where we reach the blurred line between ‘doing your bit for the planet’ and simply ‘greenwashing’ for business success.
The term ‘Greenwashing’ first hit the headlines this year after famous climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke out against immoral eco-friendly branding that simply hid unsustainable practices in order to improve sales.
Speaking on Twitter she said: “Many are making it look as if the fashion industry is starting to take responsibility, by spending fantasy amounts on campaigns where they portray themselves as ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, ‘green’, ‘climate neutral’ and ‘fair’. But let’s be clear: This is almost never anything but pure greenwashing. You cannot mass produce fashion or consume ‘sustainably’ as the world is shaped today. That is one of the many reasons why we will need a system change.”
Greenwashing is nothing new. In fact, some of the most well-known fast fashion brands on the planet are currently the biggest culprit.
Take H&M for example. Amongst their conscious collection and their worldwide social campaign about the birth of their recyclable swimwear, their clever content and copywriting skills had popular news outlets singing their praises and conversions climbing in the wake of their sustainable switch.
However, what consumers did not see was the recent report by the Changing Markets Foundation, which revealed that H&M was the worst offender for misleading their audience regarding their sustainable claims. In fact, the report revealed that over 96% of their claims did not hold up.
Therefore, it’s time to take a step back and rethink before you begin switching up your content strategy. It might boost your engagement if you start greenwashing your feeds, but remember, modern-day consumers, are active and will research your claims.
However, for those of you with eco-friendly startups, sustainable practices and new ideas for green alternatives on the market, we have listed below some of the ways you can incorporate sustainability into your content strategy post-COP26 for both planet-saving promotion and business success.
How To Go Green With Your Content Strategy
Going green with your content strategy has almost become a trend in the past 5 years. With more eco-friendly startups than ever before surfacing the e-commerce market, smart marketers are revamping their own business practices to stay in line with sustainable movements and serve a new environmentally conscious audience.
Whether you’re a new sustainable business on the block, or simply want to revamp your company practices to fit the green ideal, here are some of the ways you can create a greener experience for your demographic.
Use Your Platform To Educate Rather Than Promote
‘Going green’ with your content should first start with rethinking ad replanning when it comes to promoting sustainability. Take a look at your business practices. Are you sourcing and producing your products in a sustainable way? How about your packaging? Could you go to zero waste?
It’s time to rethink those brand values and then simply apply them to your content strategy. Instead of using your own sustainability to promote your products, our advice is to educate and inform. Jump onto breaking environmental news stories and post your opinion, creating content that not only promotes your sustainable practices but teaches your consumers the importance of becoming eco-friendly.
For example, popular eco-friendly fashion brand, Fashion Revolution, use their social platforms to educate rather than promote, often newsjacking popular environmental trends, stories and events to teach their audience about the importance of ‘going green’.
Starting conversations with your content is much more likely to rake in more engagement and in turn, consumer loyalty as your posts become an interactive space, rather than another promotional ad.
Clearly portraying your brand values across your content will leave you on top of the trends and instate trust amongst your audience as you move forward.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is also vital if you want your green campaign to see success.
Step back and take an audit of your demographic traffic and behaviours in order to see what areas of sustainability they are most engaged within and what forms of content they are most likely to interact with. Using advanced webmaster tools such as Finteza can help you with this, aiding your traffic and page analysis while planning your new targeting strategy.
Gathering insight into your demographic age will allow you to pitch your content to the correct platforms. For example, for a GenZ audience, why not get creative and sample your content on TikTok.
If you’re looking at this from the promotional angle, it’s important to sell the customer exactly what they are asking for. That is value, ethics and sustainability. Use your content to demonstrate why your products are sustainable and indeed why they stand out amongst others within your niche.
Customers are willing to pay more for sustainability and are statistically more likely to engage with your brand if you provide an ethical service. From your product production all the way to your content strategy, sustainability is the key to long-term success.