August 23rd, 2011

Boston GreenFest 2011: Green Gone Bad


Last Thursday, August 18th through Saturday August 20th – City Hall Plaza hosted the 3rd Boston GreenFest. Having gone in the past, I wanted to return to this popular event to learn about new green solutions that companies and non-profits had to offer.

What I found was a bunch of pushy car salesmen-like reps who would speak at me with a rehearsed, un-personalized pitch. On the opposite hand there were a lot un-staffed tables or staff who were sitting and looking down at their mobile devices. I initially (and excitedly) thought was to monitor and engage with their Twitter following – but I learned that was sadly not the case. An alarming percentage of (B2C) companies I spoke with had no social media strategy (at all) apart from tweeting the ole; I’m at @BosGreenFest from 12-6 or setting up Google Alerts. Many of them had shunned their following – by not replying or even following them. I also saw a lot of overflowing trash and unsanitary food prep. The free juice samples were nice, but the event staff could not answer how sustainable the manufacturing process was – except having all natural ingredients. Thought there was a handful of vendors who were upbeat, prepared and engaging – my overall experience was that it felt flat and not genuine.

So what would have made the event a success? How could the event organizers improve for next year? First, I’d recommend allocating resources and volunteer time to improving GreenFest’s website SEO and usability – and utilizing social media to truly connect with audience rather than just pushing out event info while helping to set example for exhibitors and sponsors. Creating an event hashtag as well as identifying digital ambassadors would allow the conversation to play out simultaneously online as well as at the event for word-of-mouth and ROI optimization. Including links to exhibitors’ websites (and their social media channels) would also help to further engage visitors and help keep this event top of mind.

As far as vendors? I would have liked to have seen more listening – and less me, me me. Again, utilizing social media to identify and connect with people who were talking online about the event/company/organization would have been an easy way to acknowledge the very people (and their following) they want as customers/members. I also noticed a ton of paper collateral and only one vendor with a QR code. I would have also liked to have seen an exhibitor develop and execute a social media campaign designed to showcase their though leadership on how their unique solution helps address an environmental concern. To that end, most companies I spoke with could also benefit from watching a recent talk by Laura Fitton (@Pistachio), titled: Social Media Bootcamp for Startups and implementing her advice to; listen, learn, care and serve…not just push-out marketing info. Because no one wants to be subjected to used-car salesman monologues, and especially not online!

How was your experience? What did you find interesting or disappointing?

December 7th, 2010

Social Media & Cleantech: Why the Latter is Not Using the Former


As I’ve written in the past about Sustainability and Social Media – the mix works well and should be embraced in particular by new companies looking to effectively connect and communicate with their stakeholders; prospects, clients, press & media, investors, competitors, industry & trade associations, just to name a few. Yet, to my surprise many are dismissing Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn as kid’s toys. Uncovering the reasons behind this trend, I turned to some experts to help understand why the adoption of social media (especially within the cleantech vertical) is so low.

Andrew Becker, Director of Business Development at LittleFoot Energy mentioned difficulty in developing content compelling for customers.” He is also not sure if it reaches his target audience of C level executives, but maintains a social media presence, “to develop targeted recognition for our brand (but) less for landing new clients.” A conversation with Brendan Endicott, Senior Manager, Energy Markets at EnerNOC revealed that he “does not believe that social media will play a significant role in helping the company generate leads until its target audience – mainly energy and facility managers – adopts the new medium.” This seems to be the standard answer.

In my interview with the Queen of Twitter, Laura Fitton, CEO/Founder of oneforty
she explains that it’s “Fear – it’s internal fear. Companies need to open their minds to where these new channels are leading and what now becomes possible.” Laura adds that, “Even if your target audience isn’t even on Twitter – and that’s pretty unlikely these days – there are serious benefits to engaging there. We’ve identified five: SEO, research, content generation, the “word of mouth pass-along” value, and of course the PR value given how many journalists are there researching stories and looking for sources.”

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September 29th, 2010

Let’s Build a Movement… But Which One?


Back in January, Chris wrote a post on the difference in framing between “greentech,” “cleantech”, and “enertech”.  In reference to Bob Metcalfe’s preferred “enertech”, Chris writes:

Metcalfe’s perspective is interesting but I think it misses the point, “green” and “clean” are more than just about energy.  It’s about food, building materials, toxins, yadda yadda yadda.”

I was reminded of that when I read this post by David Roberts of Grist, arguing that “environmentalism”, as a movement, just isn’t equipped to deal with climate change.  Writes Roberts,

“A clear understanding of that challenge renders comically absurd the notion that it can or should be the province of a niche progressive interest group. It’s just too big for that.”

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July 27th, 2010

Green Marketing or Green Washing?


So last month I spouted off about labels on food and the enforcement behind them.  The topic is a confusing once since there is very little regulation, which leads to consumer confusion.  There are however, guidelines with the FTC that prevent green washing in marketing under the banner of Truth in Advertising. Unfortunately most businesses have very little knowledge of these guidelines, due to their lack of enforcement, and therefore even the most sustainably-minded companies are often guilty of green washing.  But the Obama administration has stated that enforcement of these guidelines is a priority going forward, so consumers are about to get some clarity!

To check out the green guides for yourself you can read them at the FTC website.  Or you can keep reading for a snarky summary. :) + Continue Reading

July 21st, 2010

Getting Social in the Boulder Sustainability Scene


I moved to Boulder, Colorado a little over a month ago from Madison, Wisconsin. All I had to my name was a few hundred bucks, a Toyota Yaris packed with everything I (decided) to own and a drive to make a fresh start on my career and overall life in a beautiful, thriving place.

Luckily I had some resources already in the area where I was moving to: my girlfriend, a cousin and some friends from the Boulder Startup Week that I had met when visiting in May. I’ve become somewhat of a proficient social networker with my past experiences in social media, so I figured that the strong base I had established when visiting Boulder Startup Week would help me get into a renewable energy or cleantech company easily. + Continue Reading