Case Study: Earth Hour Hong Kong 2013

Category Environment

Brand custodian Alicia Chang, development director, WWF Hong Kong

The problem: As the 2013 Earth Hour event drew near, WWF Hong Kong, the organiser of the global event was facing a problem of reaching out to a mass Hong Kong audience, which online is now clearly split across different social networking platforms and languages.

Mixed in with this is a growing sense that consumers can not make a difference by simply switching off a light for just one hour each year

So what exactly did WWF do differently this year?

The strategy: This year, WWF Hong Kong focused on three primary objectives as part of social media campaign - Drive traffic to Earth Hour micro-site and encourage sign ups to our interactive social media map; Increase online platforms' fan engagement and conversation to build a strong online community to support WWF and Earth Hour; and to ascertain online supporters and to investigate what is the best social media approach when promoting Earth Hour.

Since Chinese and English communities are active on different social media platforms in Hong Kong, the team was forced to adapt and utilise different characteristics of each platform to reach out to our audience.

The Facebook campaign "Earth hour", where users can watch the promotional videos engaged with five local icons including Eason Chan, G.E.M, Kay Tse, Karen Mok and pop music band Sugar Club after liking the page, has led to a result of conversation volume on Facebook increased from 3.13% per day to 16.45% per day on average, with a peak of 11589 hits during the campaign.

Results: Earth Hour wrapped up 2013 with what it called a "resounding success" in Hong Kong. More than 3,500 people signed up to Earth Hour to pledge for a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Not only did the fan base of Earth Hour Facebook page increase tenfold, conversation volume also increased from 3.6% to 16% compare to last year.

The most popular video from G.E.M. recorded more than 27,000 views in three weeks.

Another digital initiative was a mini Google Maps site where participants can register their location during Earth Hour as well as knowing the new joiners.

According to Ali Bullock, head of communications for WWF Hong Kong, "It's a comeback to people who think ‘I can't make a difference': every switch on that map is already making a difference". This is a first-time project that cost nearly half of Earth Hour's media budget.

The launch of the map site was announced on Facebook, where it marked the most popular post with receiving 2,214 hits compare to last year's most popular post 945.

Posting at the right time and creating content that the community helps to increase its reach and also prompts the material to go viral. We see an improvement in conversation volume by fivefold."

Apart from Facebook and Sina Weibo, WWF Hong Kong also engaged Twitter and Instagram this year to initiate discussions, reaching a peak of 1,441 per day. It was a result of G. E. M's mini game, SKY 100s mini game and a post about lights off on the evening of Earth Hour.

The challenges: The whole social media department was consisted of merely three people, and most importantly, with "a very limited budget".

WWF smartly reached out to a variety of digital platforms, artists and celebrates to drive traffic and initiate discussion. According to Alicia Chang, development director, WWF Hong Kong, all celebrities that participated in the promotional videos did so at zero cost, since they were convinced that Earth Hour is a meaningful event.

According to China Light & Power and Hong Kong Electric, electricity consumption in Hong Kong has dropped by 4.76% during Earth Hour this year.

For our future events, the groups said it will continue to invest in digital marketing.

WWF appointed Fluid as creative agency and Meltwater as PR agency for Earth Hour 2013.

Conclusion: Despite some big challenges, WWF Hong Kong managed to convey a broader message about environmental awareness, which goes beyond switching off the lights for one hour each year. And despite a connected but fragmented online audience, a well thought-out digital strategy helped reach a mass Hong Kong audience.