Category Archives: Online Marketing SEO and SEM

Sustainability Awareness and the Content Requirements of Social

A recent study by the folks at Chief Marketer supports my experience with clients when it comes to social media.

The Chief Marketer Studycontent requirements of social media outpaces even measurement issues as an obstacle.  On the positive side it’s rare to find a CEO or Executive Director who does not understand that social media is very relevant to their core audience.

Our search engine to the curated collection of sustainability leaders and citizens,, provides a wealth of quality content for social media.  See how we use our curated video channel on to seed our social media network –  here on LinkedInYouTubeSustainability Advocate blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter using not only the content we create, but more importantly, content we aggregate then curate for relevancy and quality. This is particularly relevant for organizations who invest heavily in events, the source of invaluable content in terms of video from both the sessions as well as interviews at the Conference. It’s content that needs to be carried well beyond the sponsoring organization’s Website in order to impact search rankings and to significantly advance leaders in both thought and action.

sustainability awareness largeWe are able to private label this search engine for organizations with a commitment to increasing sustainability awareness, be it for their sustainability initiatives or for an environmental, social, cultural, or economic cause.  As a sub-domain to their Website, the affiliate provides a premier advertising and sponsorship platform, like keyword driven Google, to generate revenues for organizations working towards a sustainable future. Video content advances the unfiltered voices of our sustainability leaders and citizens and, practically, the EarthSayers content management system (CMS) manages both the original and aggregated content and is the driver for seeding the Web, increasing awareness, using all channels both social and direct.

A reading of Noam Cohen’s article, As Online Video Surges, the .tv Domain Rides the Wave, in the New York Times, supports leveraging the CMS and content of Earthsayers as “,” or or as the most effective, efficient, and affordable way to ride this wave for the benefit of environmental, social, cultural, and economic objectives today; to generate income for years to come from sponsors and advertisers who share your goals through their programs, products, events, and initiatives; to begin to seed the Web with relevant and quality content, emphasizing leadership, using both social and direct media; and to be found with top page rankings on Google and YouTube, the top two search engines, on hundreds of keywords our citizens are using to find your content.  Here is the sustainability taxonomy we created as part of our search strategy and may be useful in putting together keyword categories and subcategories.

Click here to download a short presentation featuring examples of how one video interview of Roz Savage for is used to seed the Web – LinkedIn, blog post, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. While this is original content, it works pretty much the same, except it generates clicks to the YouTube channel hosting the content.  In this respect all of us benefit on what my friend, Barry, calls “networking the Web of life” and it leverages the free hosting service of YouTube.

P.S. I want to take this opportunity to thank my brother, friends, colleagues, and neighbors for supporting my work with through kind words, cash, pro-bono camera and production services, consulting, technical support, software design, lodging when I go out of town to cover events as press (another positive attribute of a .tv) and friendship.





Making Video Work Again and Again for Your Cause

Get on-board with Creative Commons License

creative commonsIt will be in the best interest of the sustainability community to adopt the practice of using a Creative Commons license to increase not only the sharing of content, but the mixing of content to seed the Web with messages to educate, inspire and motivate our citizens.  Seeding increases page rankings, advances the visibility of sustainability leaders, and is critical to educating the majority of our citizens who use the Web to find information on topics of interest including the 2.1M on sustainability, 1.8M on climate change, 2.2M on Global Warming and 246,000 on pure water.

Re-purposing content and seeding the Web

Incorporating video from a download or screen capture, in whole or part, depending on the length and message, is relatively easy and can be thought of as a video quote or clip.  Another way to express it: one producer’s video may be another producer’s Broll, the supplemental or alternate footage inter-cut into another  interview or documentary.World Watch YouTubeJust this last week I received an email from AmazonWatch about their recently uploaded video on YouTube that is part of a petition campaign to oust the CEO of Chevron and to  “Please tell the board of directors to FIRE  John Watson.” This video was edited by the Amazon Watch folks and re-purposed from a January 2010 videoMessage from Ecuador to Chevron CEO John Watson, part of another petition campaign.

Obtaining permission is highly recommended and nearly always granted for non-commercial purposes. However, producers are encouraged to use Creative Commons licensing to encourage and speed the process.


pachamamaallianceHere is an example of how I incorporated clips from a documentary, Screams of the Amazon, produced by Siegmund Thies and Joke Baert of Pachamama Ecuador into a radio interview, Oil over Water: Ecuador’s Indigenous Peoples Threatened by Barry Heidt. I converted the “radio” to a video having added clips and images and then posted to YouTube and here on our site,

This is an example of a ‘video quote’ from the same documentary that stands on its own and is posted on YouTube and, voices of sustainability, titled as Easy Money in the Amazon – At what cost? by Patricia Gualinga.

A bit more on the Creative Commons License I used in connection with the above videos:

Selecting a License

Creative Commons offers six different content licenses. The first step to sharing your work is to select the license that’s right for you. The Creative Commons license chooser helps you select a CC license that matches the conditions you want. It also provides you with a snippet of code for your website to signal which license you’ve chosen.
Example of using Creative Commons
License work and encourage the seeding of your message:

For our work in connection with, Voices of Sustainability, we use Creative Commons licenses.  If you wish to incorporate our video work into your work, we encourage it, but only for non-commercial use. We ask you attribute the work to Ruth Ann Barrett, and send a URL so we may see your work. For permission issues around modifications of our work, call 415-377-1385 or email

Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate, May 16, 2013, Cleveland, Ohio.

Forty Billion Videos but How Do I Find One I Want to Watch?

ThiFindings question headlines a blog post in MediaPost Publication, VIDblog by Daisy Whitney who hits hard noting “With Americans watching upwards of 40 billion videos online each month and rising, how do you even find anything anymore? Discovery is becoming a huge issue and is regularly cited by advertisers, agencies and programmers as one of the biggest challenges facing the online video business.”

Discovery is when you find something and is not to be equated with searching when it comes to the Web.  Four years ago when we founded, a cause-related site which aggregates and curates videos highlighting the voices of sustainability, a search on Blinkx for the term, sustainaibility, netted 21,000 results.  Today it’s up to 386,000. And, we know from experience that a full 50% of them are duplicates as people upload one video to YouTube, Vimeo, and, sometimes with different titles.

One can understand why “advertisers, agencies and programmers” see discovery as one of the biggest challenges facing the online Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 11.29.56 AMvideo business, but what about cause marketers charged with a task to educate and motivate our citizens to solve complex problems? It’s a big, big problem, but is largely unrecognized by non-profits, large and small, who are barely getting their feet wet with Web 2.0 tools and techniques, let alone addressing the whole finding issue.

Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 11.29.32 AMThe over-commercialization of the Web continues largely unquestioned or challenged by those with an education agenda.  Our strategy in terms of sustainability and citizen education is to aggregate and curate content for interest-led social networks using our content management system and content library, but branded for a specific network or subscriber base.  Portion control based on a taxonomy allows for special collections and using other more traditional ways of organizing books and periodicals to appeal to browsers is basic, but under-utilized by Web publishers.  It works for categories of sustainability such as conservation, design and architecture, eco-economics or other causes involving citizen education.

Finding Precedes Engagement

Finding before Engaging

The hot topic these day among our business and civic leaders is not search and how it influences what we are finding to learn or buy.  It’s civic and customer engagement. Unless you’re a big corporation with deep pockets how can you engage when you can’t be found?  Yes, social media plays a minor role so far in search and a bigger one in terms of engagement, but searching on keywords is the first step in a buying or learning process.

Many decision-makers still consider the Web too “technical” for them to understand and manage. Search, if it is managed at all, is left to individuals with the least amount of exposure to the organization’s clients/customers/students/citizens and little if any access to the organization’s strategic plans and tactical program planning. This is not the situation in large, consumer brand companies.

Here is an example of the influence of search on a topic I think demonstrates how influential search results are to spinning, not crafting a story.  I hope it sparks leaders to begin questioning how search  works and how it may not be working for their organization or their stakeholders.

Oil Spill: BP#1, Our Health #3, and Wildlife #4

What is a third grade student searching YouTube on the term oil spill seeing these days and what are they likely to click on? Why should we be concerned how search results architect knowledge and information, influencing how our citizens perceive local, regional, national and world events?

Youtube is the second most popular search engine.

Let’s follow up on the Gulf Coast oil spill and see what impression you are left with.

BP is in the prime spot on what is called a SERP – search engine results page – followed by the second promoted video a YouTube Channel, Vision Victory, which seems to be a real estate and financial video blogger named Daniel of  Organic (unpaid) search begins with a news report on health concerns of the spill by AlJazeera English with National Geographic in fourth place with a video about penguins and the oil spill. Check out the view numbers.

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 8.35.39 AMThe BP click through is to their YouTube channel and the first video features “Ike Williams, owner of Ike’s Beach Service in Gulf Shores, Alabama, who’s been in business on the beach for 27 years. His staff is getting ready for what is expected to be a busy tourism season this year along the Gulf coast, now that the area is returning to normal.”

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 9.09.00 AM

How many people out there think the Gulf Coast is returning to normal? If enough people believe it, does that make it true? How reliable of a source is BP?

How can you engage the third grader and the other 3.3M searchers (monthly U.S. out of 4M worldwide) when you can’t be found or seen and when searches on keywords ranging from cameras to oil spill to sustainability are increasingly being dominated by large corporations who buy their way to the top?

Time to start paying attention to what’s happening with Google and YouTube search and learn what’s under the hood.

Architecting A Web Presence for Sustainability

et_vosEarthSayer special collections are communities of thought leaders, their voices aggregated together around specific sustainability topics, organizations, programs, or projects. We think of them as landing pages for communities of leaders.

Examples include the TV program Sustainable Today; the topic Transforming Our Economy; the project Native Perspectives on Sustainability; the City of Portland; the Country of Costa Rica, and organizations such as Bioneers. The community represents a level of knowledge not available on any one site. Sponsoring organizations “share” the vision, knowledge, and experience of their leaders in one place as well as position them as sustainability thought leaders, and seed their story throughout the Web to gain higher rankings on key topics.

EarthSayers does not host the content as we use database technology to manage and embed content and on our site links back to the host site for more information and commenting. Links are  also important to being found.

With the Web we have entered an age of abundance or data saturation and it is out of balance with the communication and reception of information.  It is important to use sponsorship and partnerships to architect a commanding presence for the sustainability movement.  EarthSayers in aggregating content sees itself as part of a future where the Screen shot 2011-02-22 at 1.38.40 PMvoices of sustainability are heard around the worldwide Web because they can be easily found in a sea of information.  Since 2008 the number of search results for the term  sustainability on Blinkx, the largest video search engine,  has gone from 21,000 to over 300,000!

To sponsor a special collection, email me at

Marketing Sustainability Events recently published to our Ecotourism special collection a selection from the presentations given at ESTC 2010, the EcoTourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference held here in Portland, September 8-10.  Also published were interviews conducted at the conference by myself and filmmakers, Barry Heidt of SustainableTV and Erich Lyttle. Post production work was provided by Tom Hopkins of Sustainable Today TV.    The sponsor of this event, The International EcoTourism Society (TIES), like others we have covered in the past, including the Seattle Green Festival held in June, was financed out of our own pockets. Why?  Because most organizations sponsoring green events invest in “pre” conference marketing with the backend or post conference a dead zone with no budget. We think this is seriously inhibiting awareness and adoption of sustainability principles and practices which is the mission of

Viewing events, especially annual events, in a linear fashion in the age of Web marketing is inhibiting the growth of the sustainability audience and, ultimately, has a negative impact on attendance objectives for organizations sponsoring sustainability conferences and events.

Dead Zones

Dead Zones

The Web is a timeless environment and needs to be seeded with content frequently. Relevant and quality content remains king.  However, accelerating the growth of an audience does requires the marketing process be viewed and acted upon as a continuum. Peppering the Web with content from one event to build interest in the next one should be understood as a requirement.

No Pre or Post

No Pre or Post

We bring to the sponsors of sustainable and green events not only the ability to produce content at an event in a more personal way – interviews as opposed to the pre-web practice of video taping presentations from the back of the room. We now are able to demonstrate the efficacy of our work as we not only produce content but provide the network,, for distribution which along with our channel on YouTube. This positions the conference organizers and presenters as part of the sustainability movement and seeds the Web increasing page rankings for all involved and making the people and information easier to find. As we all know, searching is one thing, finding is another.

Sustainability and Web Search: Low Interest

This post is not about low interest on the part of our citizens searching on the Web for information about global warming, climate change, and sustainability, but low interest on the part of content producers towards Web search and how it is related to citizens searching, but not finding vital information on these and other sustainability-related issues.

Today’s New York Times article on Yahoo’s efforts to use search data to create search-generated content calls out a little known growth industry around the Web and highlights what every educator needs to know.

“Search-generated content has been growing on the Internet, as evidenced by the success of companies like Associated Content, which Yahoo recently bought, and Demand Media, which has used freelance writers to create an online library of more than a million instructional articles.”

Compare this to the old school educators and social activists who blanch at the phrase, content generation, and hold steady to the practices of print, and you will begin to understand why our citizens don’t get answers to their basic questions about global warming, climate change, sustainability or even about our oceans and water pollution.

It starts and ends with interest.

Yahoo and advertisers have a big interest in being in the top organic search results on key search terms because supplying relevant information when a person is in the buying cycle is a basic tenet of marketing success. Indeed, a recent article in DM News suggests Search Engine Optimization (part of what we are talking about) was once overlooked, but have realized it “doesn’t strain their budgets” and improved analytics make it “easy to understand the relationship between natural search rankings and revenue.”

Those in the business of education or those who would benefit the most from an informed public have shown very little interest.

The power of the Web has been highly commercialized largely because it is a buying machine. But it is also a learning and training machine, yet it just may be that to meet searchers needs is just too crass of a reason to create content that explains important concepts and issues and may interfere with the editorial and research freedom to publish what is important and what is not and to use language such as “eco-economics” and avoid prosperity in favor of ROI.   Yahoo points out (you really need to read the NYTimes article) to its journalistic detractors: “The information is valuable because editors can integrate it into their decision making. It’s an asset. It’s a totally amazing and useful tool that we have at Yahoo. But it does not lead Yahoo editorial content.”  A tool.

In other words, how can it not be crucial to understand that although there are 28M webpages out there on the subject of “global warming” less than 170,000 of them are titled to appear in top rankings (and thus be seen) to a search on the term, global warming, and even less on the question what is global warming? Yet there is significant search on this term, more on this term than on sustainability or climate change.

Screen shot 2010-07-05 at 4.32.39 PM

This chart (1) from Google Insights gives you a general idea of the popularity, if you will, of the three terms in relationship to each other. You can use the chart below to get some feel for search traffic on these terms which come from a snapshot (1%) of the search traffic over a years period of time using software called, WordTracker.   For nearly every sustainability-related topic that I looked at, the search on “what is” or “definition of” was relatively high and the number of Web pages with a title that grabs was low.  This is a great opportunity for organizations with a cause to gain traction with searchers out there who are entering or are in the learning cycle. In the hundreds of video programs we have reviewed for inclusion in our sustainability collection on, the voices of sustainability, the titles reflect a general disconnect from what the video actually covers, choosing in some cases to emphasize the name of the person answering the question, what is sustainability, or the event at which the person attended and was recorded. These are just two examples of hundreds.

But first to change things, the educators and proponents of sustainability have to know and understand the capability of SEO and search engine marketing. Indeed, from my own experience, a greater interest in the Web would be a starting point for many of our leaders addressing environmental, social, cultural or economic sustainability, followed by increasing their (1) personal, (2) professional, (3) organizational, and (4) cause presence (brand) on the Web in all four categories,  and take a crash course on SEO so they can better align their language and messaging with their objectives and audience.  SEO by the way is complicated and is a learning experience for even the most seasoned of marketing professionals.

This is my agenda.

If you invite me to participate in a meeting around sustainability, this is what I am going to talk about; if you want me to increase your revenue for a sustainable product or service, this is what I am going to talk about and help you achieve; and if you ask me how to increase your membership, this is what I am going to talk about and make suggestions around. If you ask me about sustainability, I’ll probably refer you to one of the hundreds voices of sustainability found at

P.S. I included Walmart in the following chart to give an idea of corporate-related efforts to be in the top rankings, mostly using paid search, but increasingly using organic search more effectively.


Note: (1)

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don’t represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100