How to talk about California's marine protected areas online
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:
- Celebratory events, such as Underwater Parks Day or the birthday of California's MPAs
- News coverage - most often about how MPAs are working
- 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!
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.