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Social Networks: A Truth Syrum for Green Claims

Who knew? According to research from Resonate Networks, online communities dedicated to environmental issues and awareness are not the best places to find and communicate with green consumers. Now what? Where do you go to find these people? Social networks.

As reported in MediaPost, green consumers (defined as those who look for products with an actual — and I assume measurable — environmental benefit) said that they spend less than 1% of their time online reading the content of green sites. Instead, they are active participants (just over 15% of their time) in social networks.

In other words, companies marketing green products will have to do it the hard way — make a great product and let consumers spread the word for them. On the downside, it’s not a strategy you can control, and you’d better be telling the truth (the firm, which provides online ad targeting based on its research on consumer attitudes, also found green consumers to be more skeptical than non-green consumers about brand claims). On the upside, if you really do, in fact, have a great product, this can work.

I like the idea of social media as being like a filter for truthfulness in marketing. If you’re just greenwashing, you’re going to get weeded out by the green community before you get “liked,” Tweeted, or a thumbs up. Even worse for greenwashers, their passion for the environment could result in negative word of mouth over which you have no control.

I recently read a blog by one of the marketing gurus who recommended that every brand do a Twitter search on “[your company name] sucks” at least once per month. That not a search you want to be found in!

I guess the message is — if you’re marketing green products, tell the truth! Light and dark green consumers in the social networks are watching you.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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