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Ray Dearborn's picture

How to talk about California's marine protected areas online

on September 4, 2014 - 12:02pm

It’s been 15 years since passage of California’s Marine Life Protection Act, and two years since the completion of California’s new network of 124 underwater parks. Nonprofit organizations in California were critical players in achieving passage of the law and worked steadfastly to design the network in partnership with fishermen, scientists, and recreational ocean users.

This year, Upwell researched how people talk about California's marine protected areas online to learn what drives conversation and understand how to better engage Californians in paying attention to protected ocean resources.

While conversation volume about California's marine protected areas is relatively low, there is a big opportunity to increase attention and impact through creative and targeted communication strategies.

Daily social mentions for Upwell’s California MPAs keyword group (Radian6, 12/1/12-1/31/14).

Our findings show that most conversation about marine protected areas is educational in nature, but the content that drives conversation is celebratory and connects humans to marine resources. Talking about wildlife, explaining how MPAs work, and connecting with recreational and tourist activities helps increase attention.

In 2013, there were three reasons the conversation spiked:

  1. Celebratory events, such as Underwater Parks Day or the birthday of California's MPAs
  2. News coverage - most often about how MPAs are working
  3. Meetings and conferences, such as the #MPAsWork Twitter chat in November 2013 and the California Central Coast MLPA Symposium in March 2013

We also learned, through conducting case studies on five specific marine protected areas (Farallon Islands, Anacapa Island, Point Reyes, Elkhorn Slough and Point Lobos) that there is a big opportunity for advocates, ocean managers and educators to tap into local conversations to curate content, find new audiences and connect with local businesses that can serve as brand ambassadors for marine protected areas and marine reserves.

Our recommendations have been compiled into a handy tipsheet for ocean communicators. Click below to download and print!

We held a public webinar on August 7 to present our findings. You can watch the recording or view and download our slides.

Special thanks to the Resources Legacy Fund for their great work in establishing and protecting CA marine protected areas, and for making this research possible.

Matt Fitzgerald's picture

Shark Week 2014: Not Moar Shark?

on August 22, 2014 - 2:52pm

Press release proclamations to the contrary, Shark Week experienced a massive drop in online attention this year.

Online mention volume for Upwell's 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 'Shark Week All' keyword groups.

Total volume fell more than 47% from last year's record-setting levels. As seen below, post volume peaked on Sunday, Shark Week's opening night, and fell off thereafter. 

The graph above shows total social mention volume for Upwell's 'Shark Week 2013 All' and 'Shark Week 2014 All' keyword groups in Radian6. Data points were aligned by day-of-week.

While there are many theories for the decline in Discovery Channel's online fortunes - ranging from Megalodon-sized deceptions to Sharknado bandwagon fatigue - what's undeniably clear is that a big shift has occurred.

Could there be an answer in the (word) clouds? We leave it to you to decide. 

Word clouds for the six biggest days of Shark Week 2014 (generated using Upwell's 'Shark Week 2014 All' keyword group in Radian6).

That's all for now, Team Ocean, but stay tuned for more shark-y analysis in the days and weeks ahead.

In the meantime, we invite you to send us your theories at tips [at] upwell [dot] us





Ray Dearborn's picture

The Official Upwell Toolkit for Saving Sharks During Shark Week 2014

on July 23, 2014 - 4:51pm

// This Toolkit is in progress.
// Have suggestions for what should go in here?
// Get in touch

Welcome to your home for shark-saving resources to help you defend, protect and celebrate sharks online during Shark Week (starting Sunday, August 10 at 9pm ET)!

There's a lot in here, so we've packed all the action-y goodies at the top, and pushed the background information to the end.

I. Being a Super Engager

II. Background Information

III. Even More Sharky Resources!

Where to find good, public domain and creative commons images (be kind to your content creators, always credit images!)

This toolkit is a living, breathing thing, so please send us suggestions for additions and alterations. Also, let us know what this toolkit helps you do, and we'll repay the favor by driving more attention to your content!

Ray Dearborn's picture

Shark Week Twitter Influencers

on July 23, 2014 - 4:43pm

Can you hear the BAAAAH-dum-beats of summer? Shark Week is coming! August 10 marks the beginning of the biggest spike in the online ocean conversation all year. To get you prepped and pumped for our Sharkinar, we’ve compiled the best, most influential users driving the shark discussion on social media. This time we’ve got a double dose of awesome, with our continuously updated list of “Shark Saving Influencers” and a new feature for this year, our list of the “Shark Week Super Tweeters”, those who led the pack in mentions and retweets from Shark Week 2013.

Subscribe to Upwell's "Shark Saving Influencers" and “Shark Week Super Tweeters” lists on Twitter to keep tabs on these influencers from the comfort of your own Twitter feed. We recommend setting up a column for each one in your Twitter monitoring tool of choice (we use tweetdeck) and keeping an eye on it starting now, and going all the way through Shark Week. Retweet, respond, and engage.

Some of our favorites from “Shark Week Super Tweeters

Some of our favorites from “Shark Saving Influencers

Ian Somerhalder - @iansomerhalder


Matt Fitzgerald's picture

Shark Week 2013 by the Numbers

on July 3, 2014 - 2:35pm

Because those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat #Megalodon, here are some of our favorite stats from Shark Week 2013.

Shark Week is Big, and Getting Bigger

2013 delivered the most watched Shark Week in Discovery Channel's history. Much like the ratings, online conversation about Shark Week has grown significantly every year. In other words...

To put those numbers in perspective, the infamous "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones pulled in about 1.4 million tweets. Shark Week has formidable internet chops, er, chomps.

Tweeps <3 Sharks

Twitter is the most popular platform for Shark Week discussion, however the data is limited by Facebook's privacy settings (not that we're complaining about privacy). A simple search for Shark Week (and its variants) illustrates just how much conversation is being driven through the platform.

All-time "Shark Week" Tweets by Month

Since the dawn of Twitter the week has generated more than four million tweets about its name alone.

In 2013 each Shark Week show had its own hashtag. Below, you can see how the shows stacked up by mentions.

We have it on good sources that the not-so-good Shark After Dark live nightly talk show will return in 2014. For the record, we are big Bob the Shark fans. 

Shark Week is a Great Time for Shark-Saving

Even though the overall Shark Week conversation is growing like kudzu, the shark science and conservation conversation (represented below by Team Ocean) is actually growing faster. In fact...

With your help, we can keep that trend going and help connect shark fans with shark-saving action. 

If you're looking forward to this year's Shark Week, sign up to attend Upwell's third annual Sharkinar and get ready to save some sharks. 


See you on Team Ocean!