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Blog post
June 24, 2019

Eco trends in social media

Can we really understand the mysterious and random virality of social media? In an immense sea of content, how do we predict which trends will generate enough movement to form a wave?

Some trends can be picked ahead of their time, however the explosiveness of a random tweet, call-to-action or cat video is almost impossible to pin-point.

While trends will mostly fade back and be replaced with another, the occasional and rare trend can have legitimate and measurable impacts on society. A recent example of this is the anti-plastic straw movement that took off in 2018.

It started with a terribly sad and visceral video of a straw being removed from the nose of a sea turtle – it’s likely you’ve seen it yourself. The internet is filled with images and videos relating to the impacts of pollution and climate change on the wildlife, however this video happened to stick in the social media sphere long enough to cause a stir.

In the context of environmental upset and helplessness, the plastic straw became the epitome of our harmful single-use plastic culture. In the space of a couple of months, plastic straws were disappearing from venues and public discourse stigmatised their use. Massive chain restaurants such as McDonalds and Starbucks announced plans to ban the plastic straw, as well as some cities and countries introducing bans or taxes on similar single-use products.

While this is ultimately a positive movement with good intention, rejecting the use of plastic straws is an easy and short-term relief to an overwhelming frustration with single-use consumer culture. This year we’ve been seeing similar trends emerge with the rise of keep-cup popularity and debates over plastic bags in super markets.

These trends may be tokenistic, however, they are telling of widespread sentiment and signify the public’s desire to be heard and responded too.

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An organisation’s reputation is at its core, really how people feel about them. These feelings can be based on their interaction and knowledge of the brand, or their experience with the products and services the organisation provides. This reputation is important as it can often dictate the actions or choices audiences and buyers make, impacting an organisation financially and its ability to grow. If managed and measured, the value of an organisations reputation can safeguarded and used as a source of growth by strategically influencing key consumer’s consideration over the competition and the market more broadly.

People can interact directly with an organisation more than ever before, on social media, targeted advertisements, in-store experiences, customer support to name a few.

Given how wide reaching reputation is, how would your organisation make improvements given that it encompasses ‘everything’ an organisation does? What would be an efficient channeling of resources? 

Social media is a great place to listen to the voice of consumers and key audiences who choose to voice their experiences online. It provides insight into what your organisation has done well or needs to do better. When used in conjunction with additional data, like survey analysis it can also reveal what channels and content are contributing to this perception, and how this can be shifted. Drawing from online resources and social media, Isentia has established 3 drivers to identify and quantify an organisation’s reputation.

1st Driver: Strategy

The first driver is about the future direction of an organisation.

Does your organisation have a strong leader? Does your organisation seek to innovate? Does it shape the way society thinks? Is your organisation authentic in its messaging? Is your organisation likely to succeed? 

When an organisation shows these qualities, it raises consumer trust and confidence, but it’s important that this is authentic.  An example of this is Honestbee. Honestbee’s strategy covered several of these points - they were a fast expanding and innovative Singaporean startup in the online grocery delivery business. The founders focused on being perceived as successful, with plans for rapid expansion. 

However, In October 2018, Habitat, the world’s first tech-integrated multi-sensory grocery and dining destination launched. Three months after the launch of Habitat, it was discovered Honestbee was deep in financial debt. This was a shock to the industry  as Honestbee had a good strategy. Their downfall had been in their inauthentic messaging which resulted in the organisation losing trust of their consumers and investors.

2nd Driver: Culture

Culture is determined by the organisation having strong values and integrity. 

Is the organisation socially responsible? Are practices fair and transparent? Do they promote a balanced workplace? Is it an environment where people aspire to work? Do they have ethical relationships with their business partners? 

The growing number of organisations ‘going green’  is as good example of how the market can reflect and appeal to the values of today, in this case by demonstrating they're more environmentally conscious. In a 2019 Nielsen study, it was shown 1 in 3 consumers prefer eco- friendly products. Both Fairprice and Redmart, grocery chains in Singapore, also expressed growth in demand for their environmentally friendly products. 

An organisation’s workplace culture, including ethical behaviour can also negatively impact an organisation. For example, Google was challenged for the way cases of sexual harassment were handled within the workplace. They were also challenged for questionable deals in AI technology that resulted in a protest of 20,000 employees across their offices. Google’s poor behaviour was exposed which led to criticism from Amnesty International and a backlash on social media. 

3rd Driver: Delivery

Delivery is how good an organisation is at delivering on it’s day to day business. 

Do people perceive the organisations products are good quality? Are the products well received? Is the organisation well known in the industry? Do customers have a good experience? Are they successful?

A good example of how delivery can be analysed is in the sphere of reputation is the case of, Razer Inc. known as an organisation passionate about gaming. With a tagline ‘For Gamers. By Gamers’, they are well known in the gaming industry for supply gaming software, hardware and accessories. 

According to their annual report, their revenue last year, hit an all-time high of 712 billion US dollars.  While online reviews of their mostly praise the high quality of Razer products, a common complaint on sites such as trustpilot.com, Reddit and Forum Hardwarezone are about slow or unhelpful customer support. Some customers even expressed that due to the poor customer support for products, they were even considering switching brands.  This signals an opportunity. While Razer Inc has performed well financially and seemingly has a message that appeals to their key consumer, by improving their touchpoint experience and capacity to deliver they could potentially eclipse the competition and swing those who were apathetic towards other brands.

This is just a small glimpse of how your organisation’s reputation can be analysed and measured by a combination of social media data and more traditional market research techniques. Executing a broad analysis of your organisation based on the 3 drivers of Strategy, Culture and Delivery, we can assist in gauging your organisation’s reputation and how it fares against competitors. With a clear metric for overall reputation and a breakdown of performance by driver, Isentia's Reputation Analysis helps your organisation identify areas for improvement and where there are opportunities to strengthen PR, marketing and engagement strategies. 

Request a sample of Isentia's Reputation Analysis here.

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Blog
Why does Reputation matter

An organisation’s reputation is at its core, really how people feel about them. These feelings can be based on their interaction and knowledge of the brand, or their experience with the products and services the organisation provides. This reputation is important as it can often dictate the actions or choices audiences and buyers make, impacting […]

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published anti-greenwashing guidelines for businesses making environmental and sustainability claims. Despite these efforts, media coverage of greenwashing, particularly focusing on senate inquiries and regulatory court cases against major offenders, continues to expose brands and industries stretching the truth in their sustainability messaging. This exposure is causing a growing disconnect between consumers and corporations, as audiences increasingly call out misleading practices and question the authenticity of corporate sustainability claims.Isentia’s sister brand, Pulsar conducted recent research exploring media and public discourse around sustainability. Part of this report examines how greenwashing is covered in the news and on social media, particularly in relation to the broader sustainability discourse. Let’s investigate those themes in more depth here.

Social media data is decreasing while online news activity re-engages, indicating incident-led conversations. Regulatory bodies like the ACCC, and state and federal governments are tackling greenwashing by identifying major corporate offenders and their misleading actions, such as 'recyclable' packaging, carbon credit misuse, lack of transparency in fossil fuel investments, and exploitation of government climate programs. Audience conversations often align with news coverage on these matters.
The term in Australia particularly gained traction among social audiences around November 2022 when the UN called out the Australian government for allowing the use of carbon offsets in corporate emissions reduction strategies. News of the apparent collusion between the government and large corporations has caused public faith and trust in both to dwindle. As these stories emerge, Australia's positive sustainability impact on the international stage is significantly undermined.

https://twitter.com/janegarcia/status/1591662729664004099

When we look at which sectors are most discussed within the greenwashing topic, energy, finance, and food take the lead.

Much of the discussion regarding the energy and finance sectors emphasises their interconnectedness, particularly the investment by financial institutions, including super funds, in environmentally harmful industries. Despite some super funds claiming to offer options that avoid unsustainable investments, reports have revealed that they collectively hold millions of shares in the fossil fuel industry. 

Many industries are being criticised for using carbon credits, such as REDD+ offsets, to appear more sustainable. Advertising, marketing, and public relations also play a significant role in promoting misleading sustainability initiatives, thereby contributing to greenwashing. However, stakeholders are aware that the advertising and communications industries have a huge impact on the profitability and success of an industry or product. The European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint classification system, for example, has been criticised by Australia’s wool industry for being unfair to wool products and for greenwashing. This, they argue, not only undermines the pursuit of a green transition within fashion but also damages a vital industry.

Mercer stands out as a most mentioned brand within the topic of greenwashing. This is due to ASIC pursuing a civic penalty case against them which alleged they misled members about its sustainability investments. This is groundbreaking for audiences to witness as it would be the first time the consumer watchdog has taken a company to court for alleged greenwashing.

https://twitter.com/BillHareClimate/status/1630404986130808833

Much of the conversation focuses on misinformation and lack of transparency in communication and marketing. Certifications like Fair Trade are being questioned, particularly for products like chocolate, and eco-certification for farmed salmon. It particularly muddies the waters for political figures when they get entangled with brands coming under scrutiny for such greenwashing.

https://twitter.com/JosieMcskimming/status/1750987402691362858

Furthermore, some companies feature in the media conversation due to their involvement in a senate enquiry initiated in March 2023, with a report expected by June 28th this year. 

Analysis of the ANZ reveals a shift in mindset, with consumers emphasising individual actions for solutions like composting or guerilla campaigns on mislabelled environmentally friendly salmon products. Grassroots and individual activism leading to actions like divestment from conflicting companies. Community groups like uni student clubs showcase how groups with shared values and experiences can make noise and incite change with how universities invest. However, there are ongoing debates as to whether it’s the role of sectors like higher education or Super Funds to prioritise the environmental implications of their decisions.

The rise in curiosity around greenwashing highlights the growing consumer demand for transparency and genuine sustainability from brands. As regulatory scrutiny and public awareness increase, brands must ensure their sustainability claims are genuine or face reputation damage.

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Blog
The Eco-Spin Cycle: how brand’s sustainability claims come out in the wash

Regulators are cracking down on corporate greenwashing, but what does media discussion reveal about its impact on brand-consumer relations?

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As the spotlight on sustainability intensifies year by year, it has become a focal point for legislators, media entities, and audiences worldwide.

This dynamic environment demands that brands and institutions elevate their standards in messaging and actions, holding them accountable like never before. For professionals in the PR & Comms realm, it is imperative to grasp not only how sustainability is being discussed but also the potential pitfalls, such as greenwashing, and gain a profound understanding of the diverse audiences receiving these messages.

Explore over 20 beautifully crafted pages of data visualisation that illuminate audience insights sourced from social media, news outlets, and search engines. Gain valuable perspectives on how one of the defining issues of our time is being discussed and understood.

Our exploration of this crucial topic delves deep into uncovering insights that are indispensable for crafting effective strategies, both tactical and long-term:

-Unraveling trends in the sustainability conversation

-Assessing brand & industry reputations

-Navigating greenwashing & misinformation

-Understanding the diverse audiences of sustainability

To access these insights, simply fill in the form

Download now

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Blog
Sustainability: Mapping the Media & Public Conversations

From accusations of greenwashing to the role of misinformation, we explore the comms landscape around sustainability.

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