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Ray Dearborn's picture

Attention Lab Digest: #oceanacidification, Kickstarter, International Surf Day and more

on June 22, 2012 - 1:42pm

It's been a busy couple weeks. We keep trying stuff, and learning lots. As always, we love to share. Here are some highlights from the last two weeks of the attention lab:


One of the biggest things to hit the internet two weeks ago was the #endfossilfuelsubsidies twitterstorm, orchestrated by a coalition of nonprofits interested in influencing the happenings at Rio+20. The hashtag campaign was so popular that there was more than one tweet per second that included #endfossilfuelsubsidies, and celebrities like Robert Redford, Stephen Fry and Mark Ruffalo were joining in the action.

Upwell saw the twitterstorm as a great opportunity to draw attention to the oceans, particularly since the focus was on climate change. One of the biggest effects of climate change is ocean acidification, a process that most are unaware of. Capitalizing on the popularity of the #endfossilfuelsubsidies campaign, Upwell created an image to amplify the hashtag while also elevating the issue of the ocean.

Embedded image on Imgur

The image plays on the classic "This is your brain on drugs" PSA, and also clearly illustrates, in a simple way, the effects of climate change on the oceans. 

We shared the image with people who were tweeting #endfossilfuelsubsidies, and also specifically targeted those who were drawing the connection between fossil fuel subsidies and ocean acidification. 

The image has been loaded nearly 4000 times, and, due to retweets by organizations like 350 (who helped orchestrate the twitterstorm), tweets mentioning #oceanacidification had over 350,000 impressions. 

We Learned

Due to the image's simplicity, and also the ability to join in on an existing conversation, we were able to successfully elevate this message. We are constantly monitoring conversations about the ocean, but perhaps some of the most important conversations to monitor are those that are popular and have a tangential relationship with the ocean. The marine conservation sector's ability to catalyze ocean advocacy out of trending topics may just be a key pivot point that helps put oceans on the radar.

Midway Kickstarter

Aaron highlighted a couple weeks ago that there was a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the final filming and editing of a movie about the Midway Atoll. This film is about a third of the way through its funding goal of $100,000. Recognizing the ambition behind this challenge and the importance of the film's message, Upwell decided to reach out and try to help word spread about the Kickstarter campaign.

We are still in the midst of our outreach, but we have faith that in the final three weeks of the Kickstarter campaign, we will be able to help spread the word about the filmmakers' vision, as well as the travesty that has hit the seabirds and fish that have been devastated by ocean plastic. 

More updates to come.

International Surf Day

Last Wednesday was International Surf Day. Building off our lessons from World Oceans Day, we created and shared content that would elevate the issues affecting our ocean during the time of elevated attention. 

Our most effective tactic was sharing inspirational quotes on Twitter. We also created a Pinterest board of surfing and waves photos. Ultimately, our efforts helped to elevate the message of ocean-love within the surf community, but they were small in comparison to the successful efforts of the Surfrider Foundation. Upwell is constantly looking for ways to amplify - and not duplicate - the efforts of our peers in marine conservation. 

Rachel Weidinger's picture

Australian Marine Reserves Drive Spike in Online Attention to MPAs

on June 21, 2012 - 6:44pm
Australia announced last week that it would establish “the world's largest network of marine reserves, which will ring the country and cover more than 3 million square kilometres of waters to protect reefs and marine life. … The massive expansion of marine reserves [will] include key waters such as the Coral Sea and pygmy blue whale habitats off the southern coast of Western Australia.”
The announcement resulted in a significant spike in the online conversation about MPAs, as you can see below. The conversation about MPAs is generally pretty quiet with about 200 social mentions a day, so a spike to 2,000 is pretty big. 

Social mentions June 5-19, 2012 for Upwell's MPA keyword set (blue) and Australian Marine Reserves (orange.)
Ray Dearborn's picture

What the F is going on with whales?? (A case study in social media monitoring)

on June 21, 2012 - 4:15pm

Aaron, Upwell's captain of data and monitoring, starts each morning by opening Radian6, where he's got a fancy dashboard that tracks social mentions of all the ocean topics we're keeping our eyes on.

Don't worry if this makes your head spin. It makes mine spin. That's why we keep Aaron around. 

This morning, Aaron saw a huuuuge spike on the whale chart.

(sidenote: It looks like a fin. cool.)

What? Whales are so popular today!!! What is going on!?!  Did the rainbow whale go viral? (sidenote: yes, it did, and we take all the credit.)

Aaron dove into the data. What were people saying? 

Apparently he who must not be named decreed that twitter was down. Does the Twitter Fail Whale count as more attention for the ocean?

Here's a graph that shows how much of the whale conversation spike was due to the Twitter Fail Whale. 

Morals of the story: not all whales created equal, Aaron is graph ninja.

Rachel Weidinger's picture

Looking Back at World Oceans Day

on June 21, 2012 - 12:25pm

World Oceans Day was June 8, and a multitude of organizations used the date to launch initiatives and awareness campaigns. IUCN launched a Marine World Heritage App for iPhones; MPAtlas launched;  Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal hosted a live webcast (now archived) featuring Sylvia Earle; and Alexandra Cousteau broadcast a message from on board an Oceana vessel in the Baltic. Brussels’ famous Mannekin-Pis had a makeover for the day, as did New York’s Empire State Building. More interactively, several local organizations conducted beach clean-up programs, and 1World1Ocean organized a contest for students aged 12-18 explaining what the ocean means to them.

The Twitter hashtag #worldoceansday proved successful - perhaps surprisingly so - in moving the dial in online mentions and coverage of ocean issues, as this graph shows:

Social mentions in the U.S. May 18- June 15, 2012 for the Upwell "ocean" Keyword set (teal blue) , World Oceans Day (dark blue), and #worldoceansday (pale blue)

The 95,481 mentions of ocean on June 8 (23,554 of which were mentions of World Oceans Day) represented an impressive 41 percent increase over the average daily volume for the month of 67,708. “!!!” editorializes Upwell’s Aaron Muszalski

Take a minute to send a thank you email to the Ocean Project for kicking off this impressive effort. We’ll make it easy for you, email awesome World Oceans Day Coordinator Alyssa Isakower right now or tweet her thanks with tremendous ease.

Ray Dearborn's picture

Tatzoo takes over Upwell

on June 20, 2012 - 5:57pm

We opened Upwell’s doors to the Tatzoo project this summer, and we couldn’t be more jazzed. Tatzoo is a training program for emerging conservation leaders in the Bay Area. 

Twelve fellows are learning strategic communications, social media, and DIY activism, and launching creative team projects to help protect three local endangered species - the blue whale, Langes' Metalmark Butterfly and the San Francisco Garter Snake.



At the end of the summer, each fellow gets a kickass tattoo of their species for their leadership. 

>> Follow Tatzoo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. <<

I have the pleasure of being the social media mentor for the program, and was super excited to welcome them into our space. I am also excited to use the strength of Upwell to help the Blue Whale team bring an ocean-y conservation ethic to the Bay Area.

We have a beautiful space in North Beach full of creative inspiration and good food, not to mention a sunny deck:



We love to lend our space to like-minded folks in the bay area. Interested? Email me!