Fast Company

Getting Attention When You Already Have It

http://www.Earth911.com has been around for fifteen years. During that time, it has developed an extensive, nationwide database of recycling sites. We know where all the recycling sites are in any zip code, and what kinds of products they accept. It's all user-generated data, coming from municipalities, states, and other organizations who have environmental coordinators. It's up-to-date and accurate.

Because we have all this data, we get a lot of hits. Sometimes as many as 200,000 hits a day.We have people who have been coming to the site since before it WAS a site -- since it was 1-800-CLEANUP. It is trusted. These are good attributes.

But in Internet years, Earth911 is a venerable domain. It has had content for as long as most of us remember being on the Internet. So it has a unique problem: the company is fifteen years old, and Earth Day, our big holiday, is thirty years old. How do we bring something NEW to Earth Day this year?

Not many destination sites have this problem. Most of them sell a product, like http://www.Amazon.com, or sell information, like http://www.WebMD.com, or http://www.NYTimes.com. The sites that sell information change automatically as new information is discovered or reported. Some of our content does change, but much of it is perennially useful -- like where to take your old car battery if you live in 85018, or how to safely dispose of your old computer and monitor.

Not to mention the fact that Al Gore put the plight of the planet on everyone's lips this year. So how do we stop Earth Day from being "white noise," something in the background that people don't really notice? 

In our case, we have decided to use social media. We are sponsoring a user-generated video contest. We want videos that show how to make every day Earth Day, which is what's happening now that we are -- as a planet -- finally thinking of our own sustainability. Here's the link to the video contest:http://earth911.org/blog/2008/03/17/your-world-your-vision/.

The more people who enter, the happier we will be.  We're not selling anything but a concept: sustainability. Our sales force, however, should be our visitors.

Moving this domain into social media is happening on all fronts: our site's platform is Wordpress, we have a Facebook page with fans, and a Twitter presence.  What else should we be doing?

 

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