WWF Exec: Using Social Media to Drive Earth Hour 2013

Hong Kong powered down for an hour of darkness on March 23 as part of Earth Hour, a global initiative to raise awareness in protecting the environment.

In the lead-up to the event, WWF Hong Kong created an interactive map and rolled out a social media strategy that included using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Weibo, and Youku to encourage the public to support Earth Hour.

It also used Instagram, a visual social network, for the campaign this year.

However, Alastair Bullock, WWF Hong Kong head of communications, finds that visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are still very new networks and he has not seen enough success to be convinced.

Results for Instagram were OK, but weren’t as encouraging as those on Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo, he notes.

Celebrity endorsements on YouTube also helped to really push the campaign forward.

Because of limited resources, there wasn’t much blogger outreach and it’s something he plans to do more next year.

The former digital exec for Cathay Pacific notes that there are more similarities in rolling out social media campaigns in the corporate world compared to the NGO (non-governmental organization) world.

But NGOs have a real advantage over brands when engaging people on social networks, as fans join because of a particular cause they really believe in and so organizations can have a really good impact there, he explains.

“The big thing is cultivating that engagement.”

As the organization leveraged a number of social networks, how did it decide which ones to focus more resources on?

Bullock replies that it’s all about “strategy and focus.”

They have also used social analytics tool Meltwater to optimize and measure success on its social platforms.

Earth Hour 2013 Social Media Campaign


  • Drive traffic to Earth Hour microsite and encourage signups to interactive social media map.
  • Increase followers on all digital platforms to improve fan engagement and build a strong online community.


WWF developed an Earth Hour microsite that encouraged the public to pledge their support through signing up, pinning, and sharing via social media.


The NGO also leveraged its existing Facebook page to roll out the campaign instead of focusing on a separate Earth Hour page from the previous year.

Other social platforms included Twitter and visual site Instagram.

It targeted Mainland Chinese advocates via Sina Weibo and Youku.

They also created celebrity-endorsed YouTube videos of Eason Chan, G.E.M, Sugar Club,  and Karen Mok.


  • Facebook was the leading social network that created the most buzz for Earth Hour Hong Kong.
  • WWF Hong Kong’s Facebook fan base grew 22 percent after the campaign.
  • It acquired more than 4,400 Facebook fans this year, compared to the previous year where over 400 fans were added. Click-through rate also increased 16 percent this year compared to 3.6 percent in 2012.
  • G.E.M’s “Lights Off, Life On” YouTube video received more than 26,900 views.
  • Instagram followers increased from 513 to 1,245 after the campaign.

Campaign period: Feb. 28 to April 8

Related reading