Sustainable Influence Part 1: In the fight for sustainability, Influencer Marketing matters #COP26

In our new three part series, we’re highlighting the different ways that social media is crucial to the fight for a more sustainable future.

As we approach Black Friday on the 27th November, an annual day associated with mass consumption, it’s never been more important for both brands and consumers alike to authentically embrace the ethos of sustainability. In light of the increasingly damaging impact our buying habits have on the planet, influencer marketing is a necessary tool for both brands and consumers to promote sustainable shopping habits. With COP26 bringing further attention to the urgent need for a collective effort to address climate change, brands must re-evaluate the true meaning of embracing sustainability across the board. It’s time for brands to work towards becoming a part of the solution and prioritise driving conversations around sustainability. 

This month all eyes were turned to COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, where world leaders gather to discuss our impact on the planet and aim to agree on global solutions. Held between 31st Oct – 12th Nov, this event offers a timely opportunity for world leaders to come together for the first time since the pandemic and reflect on humanity’s impact on the planet. Wearisma data reveals that this year interest in the conference has skyrocketed with the total number of influencers posting about #COP26 already 3x more than #COP25 in Q4 2019 – and we’re not even near the end of the quarter. Bringing attention to a widespread demand for action, this statistic calls upon brands to answer this call to action and make further commitments to functioning sustainably.

Interest in #sustainability is not slowing down 

According to Wearisma data 

  • In the UK, engagements for #sustainability increased by approximately 87K in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. 
  • Total influencers posting #sustainability content increased by 10K in this period compared to influencers in 2020, with an increased media value of approx £170K. 
  • In 2020 we reported that global audience engagement with sustainability content had risen by over 50% year-on-year between 2019 and 2020. 
  • This year, with the effects of the pandemic and continuing damage to the climate spurring on demands for sustainable living, interest in sustainability content has taken further leaps.
  • Wearisma data shows engagements with sustainability content have increased over 100% YOY between 2020 and 2021. 
  • Globally, total engagements for the entire of 2020 sat comfortably at 81 million; by November 2021 engagements have already more than doubled across all platforms for sustainability content, with a current total of 176 million. 

With sustainability forming an increasingly important part of the conversation in our online community, implementing a sustainable brand strategy is essential to forming a successful and resilient brand identity in the modern day. Brands must take action and activate sustainable values as an integral part of their ethos, across everything from how products are marketed to behind-the-scenes business operations. As always, transparency is everything; being open about how products are made and exactly who they are working are important steps all brands should be taking. 

With sustainability forming an increasingly important part of the conversation in our online communities, it’s essential for brands to implement these values into their marketing strategy. 

Brands can use social media in three crucial ways to commit to sustainability:

  • Be transparent. Openly communicate with consumers about how products are made and who your brand chooses to work with.  
  • Authentically promote sustainable initiatives and avoid greenwashing. 
  • Partner with influencers who are genuinely sustainable.

In a recent interview with Talking Influence, our CEO and Founder Jenny Tsai reflects on the emerging need for brands to authentically engage with social causes in their marketing strategies: 

“The new phenomenon labelled ‘cause marketing’, meaning actively tying your brand’s image to an important issue, is key to connecting with socially conscious millennial and gen-z consumers…Brands are increasingly shining a light on their core values as part of their communication goals. Done well, brands can ensure, and maintain, relevance and influence. But if the efforts are deemed inauthentic, audiences are quick to call brands out.”

Shouting ‘sustainability’ from rooftops but doing nothing that impacts your own brand’s day-to-day strategies – whether that is marketing or product production –  is missing the point of this surge in demand for sustainability content. It’s time to realise sustainability is more than just a buzzword; rather, it’s a call to action to prioritise our relationship with the planet. We have now entered an era where sustainability has evolved beyond a buzzword reserved for niche clothing brands into an essential consideration for brands and influencers hoping to remain relevant in the current online sphere.