Hate spam? Well, don’t spam for Sustainability then.
I love LinkedIn and I use it a lot. Sometimes I will search for a particular person and reach out to them about, say, an event or a project, but most of the time I use it to connect and as a way for those who might require my services to find me. But you’ll no doubt be familiar with all those connection requests which are immediately followed by an automated sales pitch as soon as you hit ‘Accept’. Last week I played along with two different ‘LinkedIn Marketing Experts’ to see how similar their scripts were – I know, I’m a terrible person – answer: almost identical.
There is a parallel between spam and most attempts to engage people in Sustainability. Torrents of generic green messages are unleashed with the vain hope that one might just resonate with the recipients. But when we want to engage, we aren’t just looking for a couple of chance ‘hits’ like a spammer, we are trying to change behaviour.
My principle for engagement within an organisation is “Everyone needs to know a little about Sustainability, but a small number of people need to know a lot about certain things.” This means two levels of engagement – one general and one highly targeted at key decision makers. For the second group, I generally use workshops to co-create Sustainability solutions with those individuals as that is the best way to really dig into the topic. But even for the general level, it is worth subdividing the audience into tribes and customising the message/delivery mechanism for each.
Why? Because unlike the spammers who send me sales messages about employee benefits (I don’t have any!), every message needs tailoring to the audience, what I call ‘Green Jujitsu’. I remember working with a science-based organisation – their scientific staff were highly numerate and questioning, so the Sustainability manager had to make all her raw data available so those people could do their own statistical analysis on it if the feeling took them (I am not making this up). By contrast, estates staff just wanted rules, plain and simple. You can’t cover both cultures with the same engagement strategy, so targeting is essential.
In short, don’t be a spammer!