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Shark Week Toolkit 2013

on July 31, 2013 - 6:13pm

// 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 4 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. 

Table of Contents

I. Being a Super Engager

II. Background Information

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

Why We Choose What We Choose (Upwell Curation Criteria)

on July 30, 2013 - 4:54pm

Upwell is not a newswire for the ocean. It does not exist solely to pump out out retweets and links; if it did, it would be adding to the noise without necessarily increasing volume in a valuable way. So we subject the mass of possible topics to a triage test.

Version 2.0 of Upwell’s curation criteria, September 2, 2012

The first items to be discarded are those that don’t pass the scientific smell test; if the science isn’t credible, it’s out. Other considerations include:

Socially Shareable.

In order to be as effective as possible, it’s important to select topics that lendthemselves most easily to wide and willing dissemination, and spark conversation: what wedescribe as ‘liquid content.’ This can either be content that is already liquid—for example,content that is visual, awesome, scary, funny or cute—or that we can make liquid. The publication of a National Research Council report evaluating the federal response plan to ocean acidification is undoubtedly important—but seriously, what are you more likely to share with friends? That, or this:

Before-and-after pics. Good for US Weekly, good for Upwell.


Conservation Impact.

We’re a movement with a message. Not everything we share or amplify is Debbie Downer material. We also celebrate good news and successes and also highlight the awesomeness of ocean life. Even so, as part of our morning triage, we prioritize campaigns that have not just a generic conservation message, but the potential for specific impact: for example, petitions, seafood purchasing recommendations, etc. We find that content that is paired with action is more shareable.

Building Social Capital.

We calibrate our focus across issues, people and organizations in orderto cultivate trust, animate our network and maintain access to the most compelling oceancontent. We share content that comes from every corner of Team Ocean, with an effort toward spreading the love in a balanced way. If an important influencer asks us to share something, we do it. Generosity builds and maintains relationships, thereby increasing our social capital.

New Influencers.

We are always looking to grow our network and expand to new audiences.We prioritize content and campaigns that allow us to go beyond the choir and reach new influencers to enlarge the conversation and build the network.


Sometimes the hook is an article in the New York Times that’s generating discussion onTwitter. Sometimes there is no hook, and we have to find it, or make it. Tying ocean content with events like the Olympics, Rio+20 or Lance Armstrong’s steroid use helps up the shareable quotient.


Has a news story or piece of content already reached its saturation point? If something has already received a lot of coverage and attention, we judge whether it's worth our effort to create another spike in attention (like an aftershock) or if it's already been shared by as many people as it will be (saturated). Often, the best way to judge whether something is spikeable is to ask whether the content will be shared two or three degrees out of our network. Will it generate interest and conversation beyond Team Ocean?

Under Amplified.

We look for awesome news and content that we think has been egregiously under-amplified. Sometimes a hot piece of news just wasn't packaged in the right way. We mine our network and find the awesome stuff that few have seen, and we repackage it to go farther.

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Top Shark Influencers

on July 15, 2013 - 5:22pm

Here comes Shark Week! August 4, 2013 will kick off the biggest spike in the shark conversation all year.  As background research for our Sharkinar, we've again compiled a list of some of the most effective and influential drivers of social media shark discussions. We will keep this list up to date over the course of Shark Week to reflect the latest stats and show who's influencing the conversation.

Subscribe to Upwell's "Shark Influencers" list on Twitter to keep tabs on these influencers from the comfort of your own Twitter feed.

Alisa Schwartz

Followers: 6,490
Twitter Bio: Scuba diver-outspoken marine conservationist w/shark focus. No Blue = No Green. Total Ocean Devotion! Follow @sharkangels @JoeRomeiro @epicdiving #savesharks
Alisa is one of the most engaged individuals posting online about shark conservation, tweeting many times daily, including multiple article and news links.

David Shiffman

Followers: 10,056
Twitter Bio: I am a marine biologist studying shark conservation and a blogger. I support science-based management and sustainable fishing, and do not support direct action.
David is one of the most active of shark experts in social media, frequently engaging his followers in conversations on science and policy and compiling some of those discussions in Storify form. He is also a frequent blogger at Southern Fried Science.


Followers: 8,401
Twitter Bio: A Midwest Ocean and Animal Lover ゅゆゅ° ≈≈≈ °ه~ゅゆゅ〜~○°○○ I Love The Sea and Everything In It and Will Support Any Who Pledge To Protect It!


Followers: 96,853
Twitter Bio: The Earth's Best Defense


Followers: 77,774
Twitter Bio: Working hard to protect our oceans. Fighting against offshore oil & destructive fishing. Fighting for clean energy, sharks, & turtles.

Shark Advocates International

Followers: 1,499
Twitter Bio: A non-profit project of The Ocean Foundation dedicated to promoting science based conservation of sharks and rays. Tweets from founder, Sonja Fordham.

Project Aware

Followers: 14,732
Twitter Bio: Protecting Our Ocean Planet - One Dive at a Time
Engages scuba divers across the world to become involved in two principal project areas: marine debris, and protection for manta rays and sharks.

Richard Branson

Followers: 3,321,928
Twitter Bio: Tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at @virgin!

Rob Stewart

Followers: 10,613
Twitter Bio: Biologist, shark lover, photography and documentary filmmaker. Creator of Sharkwater, founder of non profit @uc_revolution working on second movie, Revolution
Rob boasts a wide presence online, not just through his own Twitter handle but also that of @uc_revolution (the website of which is, an organization that among other things campaigns against shark finning. His documentary, Sharkwater, received numerous awards. Also involved in Shark Angels.


Followers: 16,486
Twitter Bio: WildAid is a wildlife conservation non-profit focusing on reducing the demand for endangered species products including from sharks, rhinos, elephants, tigers.

Pew Environment

Followers: 8,324
Twitter Bio: We work globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, preserve our wildlands, and promote the clean energy economy.

Want more shark influencers? Check out and subscribe to our Shark Influencers Twitter list for an even longer list of people talking about sharks!

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Upwell's Pilot Report (aka 165 pages of awesomeness)

on March 28, 2013 - 1:07pm

In our first year, our experimental pilot project, Upwell, charted new territory to engage a larger and more diverse audience in the ocean conversation and to elevate the ocean while not elevating any particular organization or perspective. We have done this by quantifying the level of the ocean conversation across a range of topics and measuring the impact of engagement on the issue, a first for the strategic ocean communications initiatives. 

During our first year of incubation, Upwell successfully pioneered the development of new methodologies in social monitoring, demonstrated success in elevating the ocean conversation above the baseline, earned praise for a non-branded approach to campaigning from social media thought leaders and attracted additional philanthropic interest in expanding the project beyond the intent of the pilot phase across a range of environmental issues. We are grateful for the Waitt Foundation's significant initial investment, which provided the vision and commitment to launch this entrepreneurial initiative and are appreciative of other funding we have received for the project.

Over the past month, we've been sharing many of the insights from our pilot year of working to make the ocean famous on the internet. Many of the recent posts here have covered elements of the report including defining social mentions, conversation metrics for Overfishing and Sustainable Seafood, our distributed network campaigning method, the Upwell campaign lifecycle (an awesome idea, requested by Ayana Johnson), our spike quantification of the ocean conversation, and Upwell's ocean conversation Baseline methodology.

We've also shared our findings on other blogs like Lean Impact and Beth Kanter's blog, all derived from a massive report we wrote in January and February. We're talking massive! This sucker is 165 pages. We hope the community of ocean communicators and social changemakers find value in our research and findings. We'd love to share it more widely. Email us with your guest post offers and Today Show opportunities at We'd love your feedback!

Read the Upwell Pilot Report, by Rachel Weidinger, Rachel Dearborn, Matt Fitzgerald, Saray Dugas, Kieran Mulvaney and Britt Bravo.

Download the Executive Summary here.

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A quick analysis of the CITES conversation

on March 15, 2013 - 12:25pm

I did some minimum viable keyword set building this morning to take a peek at how the CITES conversation went online, and to understand what portion of that conversation related to sharks. 

Social mentions (including news media, message boards, and social media) of the CITES meeting (yellow line) and a subset of that conversation relating to sharks and rays (green line), February 14 - March 15, 2013. 

The CITES conversation peaked on March 11 with nearly 9,000 social mentions for that day (the shark portion peaked at 6,403 on the same day). I took a peek into what was driving the conversation that day.

Word cloud for the overall CITES conversation on March 11, the biggest spike during the 1-month period.

Despite the array of other proposals considered at the meeting (polar bears, ivory trade, and more), sharks and rays seem to have driven the conversation on this peak day, likely due to live updates from the convention.

Looking at Topsy Pro analytics for the same day, these were the most shared tweets:

(linking to Cites4Sharks)

(linking to The Guardian - Five shark species win protection against finning trade)

When I peeked into our sharks profile (which monitors the conversation about sharks broadly), it was interesting to see that the conversation did not spike on the same day. This goes to show that despite the massive attention CITES received, it still pares in comparison to the overall conversation about sharks.


Social mentions for Upwell’s Sharks keyword group, February 14 - March 14, 2013.

Have ideas on how to spike the overall shark conversation next time? Leave us a comment.