6 tips for using social media to screw business as usual

Richard Branson,


October 2013


Social media has become one of the best ways for environmental start-ups and non-profits to generate interest (and funding) for their causes. We are all learning as we go, but Virgin UniteThe Elders, the Carbon War RoomBranson Centres of EntrepreneurshipOceanElders and Global Commission on Drug Policy are all harnessing social media to share our messages further. Here are our top six tips:

Breaking The Taboo

1. Tell stories

There’s a tendency amongst environmentalists to rely a little too much on data and science. That’s crucial, but let the evidence be the base and start with a story.

People respond to stories, not data. A great example of this is Breaking The Taboo, where Sundog Pictures turned the compelling research of the Global Commission on Drug Policy into a stunning story on film.

2. Be creative: 

Don’t get hung up on being too serious. Experiment with new ways of telling your stories and make the most of all the new tools out there like Tumblr and Storify, as well as visualising your stories through films, photos and audio slideshows.

It needn’t cost much – you can do a lot with a smartphone, free social tools and enthusiasm.

Richard on phone in New York

3.       Choose the right channel:

LinkedIn is perfect for our stories about entrepreneurship, Twitter supports a broader range of content, and Facebook can get a bit more personal. Match or reversion your content to different platforms and audiences – and be sure to engage with the people following you on each channel.


4. Be truthful: 

Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not. Social media has been instrumental in ushering in our age of transparency, and people erring from the truth are usually found out.

The truth is usually more interesting than fiction anyway, so find real stories and tell the world about them.

5. Work together: 

Fuel your efforts by collaborating with people and organisations who are fighting for the same cause.

Sharing hashtags can be an extremely powerful way of rallying and organising people around time-critical events or regular community gatherings, like #IranElection or #AgChat.

6. Have fun! 

Virgin was built on the belief that work should be fun – and that making work fun brings success. So have fun, be yourself, and share it through your social media. Your community will respond to it. If you’re going through the motions at work, your boss will notice. If you do the same on social media, your community will be able to tell. Equally, if you are having fun, your followers will have more fun too.

What are your social media tips for environmentalists and what great examples have you seen of environmentalists getting it right?

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