Today’s youth are eager to be at the forefront of successful movements to dismantle and rebuild structures and implement positive change in the world. Increasingly, nonprofits are harnessing this desire and turning to younger generations to drive change and become the world’s future leaders. Their main catalyst for change?
This is the driving notion at Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a young, vibrant, and growing organization that is pushing for bolder actions to make universal access to modern and clean energy happen by 2030. They believe that the younger generations are the driving forces of the current climate action movements; they ask the most challenging questions, are open-minded, and use their own network to reach new audiences of leaders and supporters. Through their platforms, SEforALL truly hopes to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.
In this interview, you’ll hear directly from Meriam Otara, Communications Specialist at SEforALL, and you’ll learn:
- Why it’s important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadays
- How to connect on a deeper level with younger audiences through reader-friendly, modern, dynamic content
- The marketing tactics that work best to reach younger audiences
- Tips on building awareness and community around important causes via social media
There are so many great nonprofits working hard to make the world a better place. We want to help a tiny bit when it comes to their social media marketing efforts.
Table of Contents
- Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action
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Tell us more about you! What’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) all about and what’s your role there?
Hi, my name is Meriam Otara and I’m a Visual & Digital Communications Specialist for international organizations. I currently lead the creative communications and social media for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). SEforALL is a young, vibrant, and growing organization that works with the United Nations, international organizations, governments, and the private sector to ensure we achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) — access to modern, clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all — by 2030. We’re soon celebrating a decade of SDG7 progress since SEforALL was initiated by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Since then, there has been an increasing demand for SEforALL platforms and products, and that’s why as part of the communications team, I make sure that these digital products are:
- Reader-friendly, modern, dynamic;
- Reaching the right audiences!
Tell us about the “This is Cool” campaign! What has made this campaign so successful?
From where I’m from, which is the Philippines, a day never passes by without hearing someone say, “It’s hot.” (Either that or “Oh my god, it has been raining non-stop for 7 days!”) And without urgent actions to the climate crisis, the rural and urban poor in developing countries in Africa and Asia are getting more and more at risk of the consequences of heat, because they can’t access or afford whatever cooling technologies are available out there.
SEforALL started the #ThisisCool campaign last year after releasing one of the household reports called Chilling Prospects, which tracks the global development of delivering universal sustainable cooling. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the current cooling situation (last year it was found that around *1.02 BILLION* people are at high risk due to lack of access to cooling!), its challenges, and what can be done across the world to make sustainable cooling for all a reality.
As part of the campaign, we created a microsite with Greenhouse PR, with different cooling case studies—from cool rooftops to farming innovations—and provided a nicely illustrated toolkit that can be used by anyone and everyone to start the conversation on sustainable cooling.
Why do you believe it’s important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadays?
We’ve said it before at SEforALL (and we’re definitely not the first ones to say it!), but youth are the driving forces of the current climate action. They aren’t afraid to speak out and demand better policies or a better response to the pandemic that’s affecting us, youth, both short- and long-term. As social media managers, sincere engagement is what we ultimately aspire to build, and at least for what I can say as the frontline of SEforALL social media, youth are the ones who ask questions, are open-minded, share ideas, and use their own network to help SEforALL reach other audiences who may have otherwise not heard about SEforALL before. Through our platforms, we can only hope to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.
As a nonprofit international organization, how do you connect on a deeper level with younger audiences?
We’re not scared to dive into conversations with youth. That’s why we created the SEforALL Youth Summit last February, organized by the SEforALL youth representatives ourselves, to show that youth voices are needed to be heard and that SEforALL is here to listen. The outcomes of that Summit are also going to feed into the high-level meetings on energy happening this September.
What marketing tactics have you found work the best to reach younger audiences?
We found showing data and infographics that hit closer to home for younger people have had better engagement and reactions than most other content. Two good examples that we’ve pushed out during the Summit were showing data through an infographic on the amount of energy the whole country of Senegal uses versus the number of energy Californians use playing video games; and no energy access, no internet.
For our #ThisisCool campaign, we also reached out to youth influencers in the climate action sphere in Africa and Asia by commenting on their posts related to passive cooling. And only when they follow us back do we actually send them a personalized message on Twitter telling them about our campaign and ask them for their emails so we can send the toolkit directly to them. It’s important for us to know that they believe in our message as we do with them before we bombard them in their inbox. With the support from Greenhouse PR, we selected them not just based on their following count, but also the quality of content that they put out.
Which social media platforms have successfully driven SEforAll’s missions forward and why?
As far as advocacy goes, our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles have had the most impact on SEforALL projects. Twitter is fast-paced and straight to the point and easy to connect with our audiences in the international organization sector. As we (and our partners) always have events, knowledge products to release, it’s usually the first platform we utilize for any campaign. And while LinkedIn is quite the contrary, we’ve used LinkedIn to establish thought leadership in the energy access scene, as well as show value and appreciation to our staff. It’s also quite surprising but a lot of our youth audiences are mostly on LinkedIn.
What advice do you have for other organizations that want to build awareness and community around the causes they care about via social media?
Two words—timely and timeless. At SEforALL, we don’t want to be just quick, we also want our content to be relevant yesterday, today, tomorrow. It helps to create content that puts the cause into proper context, one that is straightforward, relatable, short.
We recently did a 2-minute explainer on why we need universal energy access or Sustainable Development Goal 7. It was also created to reach out to those who are not yet familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals in general. We talked about current events, why energy is needed for cold chains for vaccine deployment, why children need energy to access online education, etc. Art and copy have to go hand in hand. At SEforALL, I’m lucky to work with multimedia wordsmiths that make my work easier.
What actions can businesses and individuals take today to make sustainable cooling a reality?
When we think about cooling, the first thing that comes to mind is air conditioning. But cooling for all depends on many different solutions and with the climate, economic, health crises that we are facing, we need to make sure we prioritize efficient and affordable solutions that won’t spike energy demand and don’t have negative environmental impacts.
Businesses, corporations, individuals—all stakeholders—can think about cooling solutions in four ways:
- Passive cooling solutions: no-energy solutions like trees that provide shade or natural ventilation in buildings
- Policy solutions: governments prioritizing passive cooling in building codes or cities ensuring enough green space to keep the city cool
- Financial solutions: making energy-efficient refrigerators and air conditioners easier to purchase by the mass public
- Service solutions: training people and companies how to be more sustainable and how to create sustainable products