Skip directly to content


"Wickedly funny" 

-Guardian UK

"Pioneering a new kind of online political organizing" 


"This is a great...response."

-Leonardo DiCaprio

"They’re really making waves"

- Alex Rozenfarb, Greenpeace Israel

It's our job to get more people talking the ocean. Sometimes we go astray, and people start talking about us. We're flattered, but we'd rather you talk about the ocean more.

The Minimum Viable Campaign: Getting to Engagement Quicker

Guest Post by Rachel Dearborn on Lean: Impact

On the advice of Sean Power, Data Scientist at Cheezburger, Upwell has adopted an agile development principle from the lean startup movement—the minimum viable product. Our campaign lifecycle embodies the Build-Measure-Learn cycle that software developers have used in order to quickly release products with the minimum amount of functional features, in order to gather immediate insight that can inform later iterations.

Through our minimum viable campaigns, we employ ongoing, iterative processes, sacrificing perfection and providing irreverent, timely, contextual content to audiences immediately instead of strategizing for six months or a year. We focus on the quickest, dirtiest thing we can get out the door that we think will have a measurable effect on a conversation.

An Upwell Uprising? Daily campaigning equals longer, deeper conversations

Upwell director Rachel Weidinger on how to strategically tap into, leverage social media

by Greenpeace Mobilisation Lab

The director of the San Francisco-based social media listening agency backs up her case for constant campaigning with data and graphs showing the spikes and steady incline of people talking about ocean conservation, the issue Upwell campaigns on.

“A tiny bit of effort can make a huge difference in how your campaigns get picked up,” Rachel tells participants, bemoaning the lack of innovation or effort organizations take when releasing important scientific papers and news.

That’s where Upwell comes in. Combining social media search tools like Topsy, RT.Ly, Radian6 with keywords, Upwell finds the hot topics related to its issue disguised under boring executive summaries or hidden on page 6 of the news.

Upwell then explores how to repackage this information into daily campaigns, using funny, emotive, alarming or timely information to get people talking and sharing on social media along with taking a particular action.


Tech Across Your Org: Sharing a Cause and Data Across Multiple Orgs

Developing a High Touch, Human Platform for Collaboration

Guest Post by Rachel Weidinger in NTEN: Change

At Upwell, we’re inventing a new way to work together. We’re a nonprofit, data-driven social media PR agency with one client, the ocean, and one goal: more people talking about the ocean. It’s our mission to make the ocean more famous online.

Competition is real in the marine conservation space. “Blue” orgs get a small fraction of environment funding. With just a year and about $1 million to prove our model, this pilot project (incubated by Ocean Conservancy) had no choice but to invent a new way to collaborate. Taking on this project felt like jumping off a cliff.

Why Your Nonprofit Should Be A Big Listener

Guest post by Rachel Weidinger on Beth Kanter's Blog

Rachel is a long-time “nptech” colleague who is now leading the team at Upwell who is trained to sift through the vast amounts of real-time online conversations and content online to support ocean conservation.

I invited Rachel to share a guest post about “Big Listening” and how they do it.

How Network Analysis Tracks Stories and Builds Stronger Campaigns

by Ted Fickes, Mobilisation Lab, Greenpeace

Most campaigners are trying to understand how messages spread and how to make sharing happen. Common questions include:

  • What can campaigners do to help messages push through and across networks?
  • What is the role of the writer, blogger, blog or news outlet?
  • Are some news sites and social networks better or worse at spreading a message to key audiences or across networks?
  • How can we keep story alive for more than a day so that more people see it?

These are some of the questions that the Mobilisation Lab, Upwell and others are actively trying to answer.

Recently, Upwell shared its extensive tracking of a Greenpeace story about the release of US government photos and files from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. We spoke with Upwell to find out more about how it tracked the story and what can be learned. We also heard about Upwell’s use of “minimum viable campaigns” to help learn how and what stories move across networks.

Me and my shark fin: rapper comes to predator's defence

Kool Kid Kreyola's rap highlights brutal practice of shark finning

by Christine Ottery, Guardian UK

New ocean communications agency Upwell piggybacked on the rap video by roping in shark scientists to comment on the lyrics on Rap Genius, which has a huge audience, who are mostly teenagers. They have contributed wickedly funny and evidence-based remarks: "Mistakes happen ... no one wants to eat a foam and fibreglass sandwich" - proof, if needed, that environment campaigning doesn't have to be po-faced.

Using "Big Listening" and "Distributed Campaigning," Upwell Seeks a Sea-Change in Ocean Organizing

Micah Sifry, TechPresident (email us for a PDF if you can't afford a subscription)

In this article, we're going to look at Upwell, a nonprofit that describes itself as "a data-driven social media PR agency" with just one client, the ocean, and just one goal: more people talking about the ocean. What it's doing with "big listening" and "distributed campaigning" is pioneering a new kind of online political organizing.

Test Results: Personalized ‘thank you’ raises more money, increases engagement

by Ted Fickes, Mobilsation Lab, Greenpeace

We also heard a story from Rachel Weidinger at Upwell about giving thanks. Rachel told us about how Upwell wanted to acknowledge people that shared their content on social networks. Interns tracked down business contact information for these people and they were sent notes of thanks. This personal touch has been powerful as Upwell works to build a powerful group of advocates for oceans.

World Oceans Day 2012 Highlights

The Ocean Project

Another social media measuring device, Radian6 (courtesy of our friends at Upwell), tracked social mentions of ‘oceans’ along with ‘World Oceans Day’ and the hashtag #worldoceansday.

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)

From Upwell’s June 19th Newsletter:

The 95,481 mentions of ocean on June 8 (23,554 of which were mentions of World Oceans Day) represented an impressive 41% increase over the average daily volume for the month of 67,708!