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Ray Dearborn's picture

#SharkWeek Social Media: How to Hack It

on August 10, 2012 - 10:54am

// These tips are part of our #Sharkweek toolkit for ocean communicators.

As Aaron astutely pointed out earlier this week, the online #sharkweek conversation is BIG, and getting BIGGER. The majority of people involved in the conversation are merely saying "YAY sharks!!" and conservation-themed content only represents a small slice of the pie:


We are excited to jump into the shark week conversation and widen the green slice of the pie. We want to reach the masses of people who are stoked about shark week but don't know about the threats sharks face.

We've got a few ideas of how to do just that. Here are our tips for using Twitter and Facebook effectively to reach new audiences and increase attention to shark conservation during Shark Week.

These tips are for ocean-y social media managers and shark evangelists for how to engage their communities. Want tips you can share with your followers for how they can use social media to be better shark savers during #sharkweek? Share this image with them!

On Twitter

1. Monitor the conversation.

Set up a search for #sharkweek and "shark week" using your favorite Twitter tool (I use Tweetdeck, but Hootsuite is another great option). This is most of the battle. Our data indicates that this will be a bit of a firehose - we are expecting at least 200,000 mentions of Shark Week this year. Pay attention to what people are saying - look for misinformation, but also look for the people who are big shark fans and are really engaged. Everyone is a potential supporter for your cause.

Chances are, people are talking about your issue, and they might not know you exist. If you're running a campaign on hammerhead sharks, set up a search for "hammerhead," and if you're running a campaign about shark attack survivors, set up a search for "shark attack."

2. Respond to celebration with celebration.

It can be tempting to respond to a tweet that says "yeah Shark Week!" with a tweet that says "Glad you're tuning in, check out our information about shark finning." If you're reading this, chances are good that you'll be sharing lots of conservation-oriented content throughout the week. When you see people sharing their excitement about sharks, the best way to engage is to agree or ask a question. If they like your response, they'll take a look at what else you have to say. Join in the celebration, and engage people who love sharks with your own enthusiasm for them. If someone posts an awesome video, tell them you love the video - that's it!

3. Be online when Shark Week is on air.

Yes, I know you have a life outside of Shark Week, and devoting hours from your evening to outreach isn't necessarily at the top of your list. But most of the conversation about Shark Week is likely to happen when the specials air on Discovery - at 9 pm local time. If you're on the West Coast, you get a double whammy of opportunity. Hop online at 6 and at 9, and listen to what people are saying.

4. Echo your colleagues and amplify other campaigns.

Because this is a huge spike in attention, it will be harder for your message to cut through the noise. The BIGness of the online shark conversation during Shark Week represents an opportunity, but it also means you might have to work a bit harder to make your message heard. Social media works best when you are generous and conversational. We recommend that you listen to what your conservation colleagues are doing and amplify their campaigns. They'll most likely amplify yours in return. Win win.

5. Reward your superfollowers.

The most social media-savvy nonprofits have built large, engaged followings by responding to and retweeting their best fans. If someone tweets you with a tip, an idea, feedback, or an image, reciprocate by thanking them, retweeting their content, and more. One great way to do this is to ask a question of your followers, like "what's your favorite kind of shark?" or "what's your favorite show on Shark Week so far?" and letting your followers know that you'll retweet the best responses. When new people stumble upon your profile, they'll be that more likely to click "follow" because they know there's something in it for them, and that they'll be joining a real community.

On Facebook

1. Share and cross pollinate!

I'm going to echo my Twitter tip #4 from above again: be altruistic, and your message will go farther! If a conservation organization posts a great video or article, the best thing to do is to share their post on your wall, rather than repackaging that content into a new "original" post. Why? The Facebook algorithm works such that if an image is shared on multiple walls, all the "likes" and "shares" are counted in aggregate. If something has higher likes and shares, it's more likely to show up on your fans' news feeds. So if something already has 20 shares and 100 likes, keep adding to that by sharing it to your own wall, rather than resetting the ticker to zero. It works!

2. Ask your fans to like and share.

There's nothing wrong with asking for a favor now and then, especially if it's a low-barrier ask. When you post something, ask yourself, "would I share this?" If the answer is no, then don't post it on your wall. If the answer is yes, then don't be afraid to ask your fans to do the same.

3. Nothing beats a visual. Well, except a visual with some text.

If you've been on social media for longer than a week, you probably already know that images get higher engagement on Facebook than text. But sometimes, that awesome picture of a shark doesn't fully send the message you're trying to get across. Open up Photoshop, quickmeme or Aviary and put an inspirational quote, a startling fact, or a call to action on that picture. That way you can ensure that your message doesn't get lost when your fans decide to share the image on their own wall.

4. Respond to feedback.

When you post the best and most shareable content, people will comment. If you appreciate their engagement, hit "like." If they've got a question for you, respond (quickly!). If people post comments that spread misinformation about sharks, it's a great opportunity for you to myth-bust (check out our shark mythbusting tool here!).

Rachel Weidinger's picture

Son of Sharkinar: More Defending Sharks Online During Shark Week

on August 9, 2012 - 12:08pm

We heard your requests, and scheduled more time this week to share Shark Week campaigns, recruit evangelists, and ask for help. Son of Sharkinar is on the books. Join fellow shark heroes this Friday, August 10 at 11am PST/ 2pm EST. Register here, and invite your colleagues.  The 10 minute State of the Shark briefing will be at the end of the call so you can hear it.

Son of Sharkinar
Friday, August 10 at 11am PST/ 2pm EST.
Register here

Our first sharkinar was a wild success, with 26 online shark fanatics attending.  A wide smattering of shark advocate NGOs attended.

Shark lovers who we love even more for registering for the first Sharkinar.

Shark Social Media Backchannel

As participants requested on the call, we’ve set up a listserv backchannel for you: the Shark Social Media Backchannel. This email group can serve as a backchannel among shark conservationists and enthusiasts active on social media. You know, to make sharks more famous on the internets.  You should have already recieved an invite, if not please email and we’ll get you right in.

State of the Shark Online

Aaron’s briefing is captured in this blog post.  Slides are here. And you can listen to it, beginning at minute 8:01, in the recording linked here.  The topline for you online shark-talkers:

  • Shark Week is the biggest single spike in the online shark conversation for the entire year.
  • The most popular theme for shark content and sentiment is Celebratory. People think sharks are awesome. (They are!)
  • The most popular Shark Week hashtag is #SHARKWEEK
  • If you're involved in the online shark conversation and want to reach a bigger, broader audience, Shark Week is an incredible opportunity to do so.
  • Follow the top influencers, start Tweeting and Facebooking, and join the conversation!Are you a Finfluencer?

Finfluencers.  It’s a bad pun, we know. Do you tweet about sharks? Do you have a Facebook page on which you post assorted sharkanalia? Are you part of an online engagement campaign in which you interact with followers and others? Are you, in short, a shark influencer? Do you know others who might be? We compiled our own list of influencers who we’ve identified; do you have any other suggestions? Anyone you think is missing? Please let us know.  And follow them.

How’s that Toolkit Coming?

A draft of our Shark Week Toolkit is posted here.  We're adding the most liquid social content, composing shark myth-busting resources, and compiling compelling Shark Week campaigns from the conservation community.  Check it out and send us your tips:

But I Want Every Last Sharkinar Detail

No problem.  We captured it all and organized it for you.

Thanks for doing the good work.  We can’t wait to run into you more in the depths of the internet.

Finally, if you need a Sharpie drawing for your Shark Week campaign, just let me know and I’ll make you as many awkward drawings of sharks as you need. Thanks for the kind words, Michelle:

I'm really appreciating the hand-drawn graphics in the #sharkinar from @upwell_us. MORE SHARKS!

— Michelle Cassidy (@ilechelm) August 7, 2012

Matt Fitzgerald's picture

Shark Week Toolkit

on August 7, 2012 - 4:14pm

// 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 12 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!
Aaron Muszalski's picture

Shark Week 2012: How To Drive The Shark Conversation (Without Jumping It)

on August 7, 2012 - 3:59pm

Update: Want a personal walk-through of the State of the Shark online? Join Son of Sharkinar on Friday, August 12 at 11:00 am PT/ 2:00 ET. We'll share Shark Week campaign plans as well.

Son of Sharkinar
Friday, August 10 at 11am PST/ 2pm EST.
Register here

Shark Week 2012 is fast approaching. If you're involved in the online conversation about sharks, Shark Week represents a major opportunity to grab some attention, and extend your social media reach. Just how big is this opportunity? And what can you do to best leverage it? Using Upwell's magic "Big Data" 8-Ball, and salty nautical insight, we're going to give you the answers.

Shark Week Is Big

In a typical week, Upwell measures between 40,000 and 70,000 mentions of sharks online. During Shark Week 2011, there were over 740,000 social mentions of sharks, 95% of which were directly attributable to Shark Week.

There's no escaping it: Shark Week is responsible for the single largest bump in the online shark conversation for the entire year.

When you see that fin-shaped spike, it's time to get into the (social media) water.

Total social mentions for Upwell's keyword groups for "Sharks" and "Shark Week", January 1st - December 31st, 2011

And Getting Bigger

Since 2009, total social mentions of Shark Week have increased by a factor of five every year. If that trend holds, this year's Shark Week could generate over 2,000,000 social mentions. Now you're talking attention apex predator!


Of course, mentions in and of themselves are only helpful if the information or sentiment they express is factual or positive. While Shark Week unquestionably promotes strong conservation messaging, does that break through the notion of sharks being eating machines with big teeth that occasionally kill or injure humans?

Fortunately, yes, We broke down those 740,000 Shark Week-related social mentions into three categories: 

  • Celebratory — e.g. "Sharks are awesome!"
  • Terror — e.g. "Sharks are violent killers!"
  • Conservation — e.g. "Sharks are endangered!"

And as this pie chart shows, a very significant majority were in the celebratory camp. (or as we call it, ‘Yay!’)

Online Mentions of Shark Week 2011 which contained terms associated with one of the following themes: Celebratory, Terror, and Conservation

While Terror remains a popular theme in Shark marketing (Sharketing?), it's increasingly begun to receive a negative response from audiences, particularly online. Perhaps this due to the abundance of more accurate and less sensational information about sharks that's available on the Internet. Or perhaps it's a consequence of twenty-five years of Shark Week helping to change our broader cultural attitudes about the humble elasmobranch. In any case, Terror isn't a theme we reccomend that shark conservation orgs resort to, for obvious reasons.

If you want your shark content to reach the widest possible audience, "Sharks are awesome" (or beautiful, or fascinating, etc.) is the theme to use. 

Which Shark Week Hashtag is the Most Popular?

Total mentions (Twitter only) for the top Shark Week hashtags, July 5th - August 5th, 2012

With over 88% Share of Voice, #SHARKWEEK is by far the most widely used Shark Week hashtag.

There are a variety of other popular Shark Week related hashtags, most linked to a specific campaign (like Discovery's fun #PhotoChomping and #Chompie photo sharing campaigns) or event (like #VWsharkweek, Volkswagen's mobile, VW-shaped shark cage).

Mentions of these various hashtags are likely to increase as Shark Week approaches. But if you want to ensure that your content reaches the greatest possible number of shark-interested online readers, the #SHARKWEEK hashtag is clearly your best bet.

In Summary

  • Shark Week is the biggest single spike in the online shark conversation for the entire year.
  • The most popular theme for shark content and sentiment is Celebratory. People think sharks are awesome. (They are!)
  • The most popular Shark Week hashtag is #SHARKWEEK
  • If you're involved in the online shark conversation and want to reach a bigger, broader audience, Shark Week is an incredible opportunity to do so. 
  • Follow the top influencers, start Tweeting and Facebooking, and join the conversation!
Rachel Weidinger's picture

A #sharkweek Sharkinar is so much more delightful than a webinar

on August 7, 2012 - 9:22am

This morning, we're convening some of the top social minds in sharkiness to talk #sharkweek.  THE SHARKINAR IS UPON US.

Defending Sharks Online During Shark Week

If you talk about sharks online, please join the crew  of activists, scientists, bloggers, journalists, super-tweeters, and nonprofits at 11am PST/ 2pm EST to discuss how we can change the Shark Week online conversation together.

During the sharkinar we’ll:

    •    Share Upwell’s “State of the Shark” conversation, and our online shark conversation baseline data
    •    Discuss your Shark Week plans, and provide resources to support each other’s campaigns
    •    Provide tips for increasing the volume of shark conservation mentions online

Register now for the Sharkinar.


Sharkinar resource round up