More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of the natural world and the human impact on our planet. This discussion is growing politically, economically and culturally. The emergence of planetary cause, inclusive of animals and the environment, is being fueled online. While United Way and the Salvation Army may lead the way in total dollars, PETA, Greenpeace, and World Wildlife Fund are amassing significant digital influence with PETA claiming 2 million members and supporters, and all three closing in on 300,000 Facebook fans, or approximately 25x as many Facebook fans as United Way.
We were surprised to see PETA reach #2 on our list of Digital Influencers in Social Cause, so let’s take a deeper look. According to PETA, “their organization focuses attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. They also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds and other pests, and the abuse of backyard dogs.”
PETA is constantly in the spotlight by stirring controversy and garnering the participation of celebrities. Among PETA’s most recent initiatives is a campaign to save the seals, in which Holly Madison, Pam Anderson, Kelly Osbourne, and Perez Hilton are among the celebs speaking out against Canada’s annual seal slaughter by posing for PETA’s new ‘Save the Seals’ ad series. That’s the latest in a series of campaigns that includes Pam Anderson fighting “Kentucky Fried Cruelty.” While one might initially react that “campaigns are old media,” PETA has done an outstanding job of incorporating these campaigns as overall content on their web site, and used them to fuel influence across platforms, including YouTube.
If it weren’t for some negative sentiment, PETA easily could have been #1 on our list. For example, in reaction to a campaign to persuade people to stop catching and eating fish, Les Palmer of Morris News Alaska says “My first thought was: How stupid do they think we are? My second was: How ridiculous can they [PETA] get?”
Just a few notches below PETA, Greenpeace comes in at #4. While they too have some negative sentiment, overall Greenpeace has built a strong fan base. According to Greenpeace, “We bear witness to environmental destruction in a peaceful, non-violent manner. We use non-violent confrontation to raise the level and quality of public debate. In exposing threats to the environment and finding solutions we have no permanent allies or adversaries. We ensure our financial independence from political or commercial interests. We seek solutions for, and promote open, informed debate about society’s environmental choices.” What is most striking about Greenpeace is their ability to get attention for stunts. These offline stunts, such as the 24-hour occupation of a mining…
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