Category Archives: cause marketing

Google Search Results on Sustainability

Four years ago I wrote a post on Google search on the term, sustainability, noting that Wikipedia and the Environmental Protection Agency were top listings on the first page of results followed by research and consulting companies, mostly all business to business (B2B), not consumer (B2C) with the exception of Walmart. Then as now there were no sponsored links.

Do a search today and you can easily see the influence of Google’s promotion of local search results, what Eli Pariser talked about as the filter bubble effect (TED, March, 2012).  At that time the Zuckerberg quote circulating, Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 5.49.55 PMand not fact checked by me, was on target, ideally helping shoppers, but not necessarily those seeking information and knowledge.  The effect on national and international organizations, especially causes, is rarely discussed largely I think because many of our sustainability leaders are disconnected from the role search can play in educating our citizens and the shift to local is just a technical detail they might notice when searching for a new camera or local restaurant.

Doing a search from my current location of Petaluma, California the results include most of the B2B organizations on the top half of the page, as it was four years ago, but this time moving down to a local seed company, a Petaluma Health Center Conference on the Sustainable Enterprise, and a sustainable investment company.  Sustainability quickly gives way to sustainable, if only they meant the same thing.

At the same time, search traffic on the term, sustainability, has remained relatively constant this past year.

blog insert,sustainabilty

Traffic on global warming for same period has decreased by 18% while climate change has increased by 22%.  You can see the activity on this chart which also includes the terms sustainability, global warming, climate change, social justice and environmentalism.  You will note environmentalism, not to be confused with searches on environment, remains low (green line) followed by social justice reflecting the emphasis placed on environmental sustainability.

blog 3

Google reports the average monthly searches on the terms with global warming highest at 450,000; climate change at 165,000; and sustainability at 135,000. Sometime last year Google changed the tool I was using that used to report monthly global searches for sustainability at 1.2M per month, similar to climate change.  Don’t ask me to explain the differences in numbers just yet.

three terms, all countries

sustainability awareness largeOne reason for looking back this month is because seven years ago was founded in San Francisco so it our birthday month.  Our goal is to help increase sustainability awareness by advancing the voices of sustainability.  We are a specialized search engine to all curated video content. We have not been as successful as we would like to be especially in achieving a presence in the top three page results for the term, sustainability, and the over 300 key phrases and terms we have include in our one-of-a-kind sustainability taxonomy.  The emphasis on local results has not worked in our favor, but we now have a collection of over 2,000 voices and have increased their page rankings and visibility across the Web.  We are holding firm on the idea that citizens searching on the term, sustainability, should have easy access to the unfiltered voices speaking on behalf of Mother Earth and her peoples, the next seven generations.

Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate, May 30, 2014, Petaluma, California




Everyone Uses Social Media to Educate and Inspire

Use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest as education channels.  Why?

The reasons vary and the main one, selling more stuff, fits with the relentless commercialization of the Web, yet social media, especially the four called out above, should be viewed as education channels for growing a movement, educating our citizens, and/or advancing champions and innovators. What I am suggesting is all of the people in an organization who are active on the Web, and that should be EVERYONE, be called upon to become educators using social media and making it part of their work life.  It’s about everyone in an organization, especially a purpose-driven one, helping turn on the lights here, there and everywhere across the Web. It doesn’t mean you don’t hire folks to do social media, but you collaborate with them and do your part. Instead of a minority in the organization who use social media, shift to a minority in the organization who don’t. This assumes a small to medium-sized organization with little or no marketing budget and low awareness numbers. sustainability awareness large

For me social media is about my work and self expression as an online video producer and curator with the objective in life of increasing sustainability awareness. The chief way I do this is to advance leaders from all fields who are advocating sustainability – the integration of planet, people, and prosperity into all decision-making. Advancing leaders means making them more visible through organic search* (more likely to be found) and bringing to the fore not what they write or someone else writes about them, but what they say on video. Social media helps me with our awareness objective for like many founders my objective is both personal and professional.

However, in order to make use of it efficiently and effectively, the key I found was to link up {CONNECT} social media so when I post to one, it’s  posted to the others.  I picked an entry point (YouTube) that best fists with how I use the Web most of the day so I am leveraging my time while turning on as many lights as possible.

Here’s what I mean. YouTube-for-iOS-app-icon-full-sizeMy primary social media entry point, as a curator of online video, is YouTube.  YouTube from my perspective is a social network of video producers (it takes all kinds), rather than Facebook, which is for me mostly friends.  Yet when  I post a new video or ‘like’ a video on YouTube it shows up on my Facebook timeline so my friends see my work and other videos I like.

You may have someone on board who does all the content creation and posting, both text and video. Remember, I’m suggesting you collaborate with them to seed the Web, turn lights on, pepper the Web with your influence, thinking, the ideas of your colleagues and the people you admire. In terms of sustainability much of the content is ready-made, it all ready exists in TEDx speeches, University lectures, conference panels, and keynote addresses. Thought leaders and advocates on YouTube are waiting to be “liked” and advanced by you. Paul Hawken entrepreneur, environmentalist and author gets this as do many others with dual responsibilities and tight schedules. I just watched, liked and pinned a video he recommended on Facebook.

YouTube + twitter

I drive traffic to videos on YouTube (our own and those we have liked) through a series of twitter accounts (5), depending on the subject, using the tool, Hootsuite.

+ Pinterest audience interest on pinterest

Because the Pinterest world is a very visual, well educated group (audience infographic here) and it is easy to use I often “like” a video on YouTube and then “pin it.” Again,  I’m doing this with an eye to advancing sustainability thought leaders by increasing their page rankings on Google and adding to their presence in the webstream of consciousness.  I also pin videos from Websites I visit during the workday. I would find time to do this no matter my job or organization because in the process I am educated, inspired and motivated and who doesn’t need that these days?

Here’s a recent example of advancing the Canadian and Fine Art photographer Edward Burtynsky, a sustainability advocate. For searches on his name he has good visibility already on the Web, some search traffic (12,000 per month), and ranks in the top three results on a place search, “Canadian photographers.” He’s been shortlisted for the Prix Pictet global award in photography and sustainability. There are otEdward Burtynsky her less known, hardly visible artists and musicians that we are also advancing and connecting as we identify their video interviews and performances, get referred to them, or Stumble across them.

As an organization, we do this for a wide variety of leaders ranging from artists and musicians to farmers and experts to business and civic leaders. The Edward Burtynsky video on YouTube we curated and added to our site, voices of sustainability. As a curator, this is what I spend most of my day doing – identifying, reviewing and adding to our database sustainability videos. You may have someone else doing this footwork. This is were you come in. Then I “liked” the video on YouTube, pinned it (using a button I added to my browser’s tool bar) to the category, What is pin it buttonSustainability? pinned Edward On Pinterest I have set up categories that reflect mostly my interests as a sustainability advocate and which parallel many of the categories, but do not do so exactly as the ones on our Website,

example categories on pinterest

Categories on Pinterest

Remember this activity on social media needs to reflect your interests, your influence in support of the purpose of the organization. On Pinterest each category has its own “landing page” or board as they call it that you can link to in posts, articles, emails when you are educating and informing colleagues and clients and want to reference your own library of sorts.  Click here to see a landing page. I’ve also set up Pinterest so that my pin is posted to my twitter @earthsayer.Edward on EarthSayer twitter From this perspective, Pinterest is a social network too and for some it is more important than YouTube or Facebook or even LinkedIn. This might be your situation if you are connected to the visual arts, see the value of video and photographs over text, or just find it easy to use.

Advancing leaders by making them more visible through organic search using social media is an important part of my awareness objective, but it is not the only way nor the primary method to achieve this objective. This blog, Sustainability Advocate, focuses on advancing leaders and seeds the Web and it is particularly effective at reaching a larger audience and turning on a lot of lights.

You may not have time to blog, but opportunities to pin.  The point is find at least one tool and the best one for you and contribute to seeding and turning on the lights. Of highest priority is our Website,, a specialized search engine of all curated content, highlighting the voices of 1,300 leaders+ from all over the world.  You most likely have a Corporate Website that you can use more effectively to meet your visibility objectives, personal and professional by offering visitors a white paper, how to booklet or embed a video interview from your company YouTube channel.  The more the better. Pin it.

Seeding involves multiple keywords/phrases and is why a taxonomy or category system helps everyone in the organization be more effective with their use of social media. Settle on basic terms then allow for tagging based on subjects and interests.

This does look like a lot of work and I don’t want to minimize that it takes time to turn on the lights.  But the rewards are great and measurable. If we are to educate and influence, the Web is the place where people are active in the learning cycle.

Creating an environment where everyone contributes to the best of their ability is what social media is really all about. I know its a function, a profession, a specialization, but we need everyone to turn the lights on if we are to be successful at populating the Web with sustainability leaders and content. We need social media professionals to be conductors and organizers and the rest of us to participate.

If you see the advantages lighting up the Web for purposes of education, both personal and professional, and appreciate the value of self expression, then there are ways to do it and tools available so that seeding leverages what you are already doing and produces measurable results for the objectives you set for yourself and the organization.  In purpose-driven organizations they are one in the same.

I’m here to help. Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate, July 2, 2013, Cleveland, Ohio.   A version of this post was published as part of my marketing blog, Digital Savvy.

* A quick look at the importance of organic search (47%) in terms of Web traffic.

One Billion Rising and Three Voices of Sustainability

billion rising in whiteThis is nearly the same title of a blog post I wrote in the last week of December.  What I am writing here, however, updates you on the One Billion Rising, February 14, 2013 campaign and gives you three fresh faces of sustainability, a small sampling of those speaking on behalf of women and this campaign.

First, a reminder of what One Billion Rising is all about.

On 14 February 2013, V-Day is inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence against women and girls.

Secondly, why this campaign is a model of cause marketing as outlined recently in an article by Cone Communications which cites three attributes of how this campaign manages “to shine a spotlight on an age-old issue.” They are: (1) it offers a simple, unifying message; (2) it provides an easy way for people to get involved; and (3) it uses a beloved holiday as a unifying touchpoint.

I would elaborate slightly on the three to include people or social issue, multiple ways for people to get involved, and it uses a related, beloved holiday.

earthsayers adOne of the easy ways for people to get involved is the use of online video where individuals from all walks of life can express their support by appealing to viewers to participate in the February 14 events.  Because they are on YouTube, we were able to create a special collection on, voices of sustainability around the campaign thereby increasing the reach and longevity of the message as well as increasing the visibility of these sustainability thought leaders.

Here is a small sampling of the videos we included in the special collection. There is a conspicuous absence of business leaders even those who count women and girls among their best customers from among the over 200 individuals highlighted on the V-Day YouTube channel.

Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky

janCongresswoman Jan Schakowsky asks you join in on February 14, 2013 in One Billion Rising event in Chicago and she addresses her experience in the East Congo and understanding “rape as the low cost weapon of war.”  The event is at noon at Daly Plaza, February 14, 2013. Here is her video.

In this video she references the United Nation. This is an excellent site to get more information on the United Nation’s ongoing role to end violence against women visit this site:

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council

tn_24325Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, is RISING with V-Day on 14 February 2013. He talks about non-discrimination and gender equality in a union of values and references the statistic that one in three women will be raped, beaten or otherwise abused in her lifetime.  Here is his video.

For more information on the statistic cited by Mr. Van Rompuy, visit this site,

Eve Ensler, Founder of V-Day

eveEve Ensler is the founder of V-Day the sponsor of the One Billion Rising campaign. In this video she extends her gratitude to all of you who are practicing and preparing, organizing, singing, dancing, and writing for an end to violence against women with one week left until we rise!  Here is her video.

Ms. Ensler’s experience performing THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. She has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive.

The path to sustainability from One Billion Rising is easily understood in light of the sustainability taxonomy we use everyday in archiving hundreds of sustainability videos:

One Billion Rising>women’s rights and role>human rights (social justice)>People (Social)>Sustainability and

Violence Against Women and Girls> Violence, Structural> Peace, War, Violence, Security>People (social)>Sustainability.

Screen shot 2013-02-11 at 4.08.54 PM

To find a location of the One Billion Rising event nearest you, click here.

Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate, February 12, 2013, Portland, Oregon and at the One Billion Rising Event, February 14th at 3PM, PST, at Director’s Park, Downtown Portland, Oregon.

Where’s Your YouTube Channel?

The question is not why post to YouTube, but why not?

Screen shot 2012-08-21 at 10.13.29 AMSource: Diffbot

Many sustainability-related organizations, especially non-profits and even local governments, post their video content to Vimeo ignoring YouTube and  I advise to post to all three, and start with YouTube.  In our video aggregation efforts where we are pulling sustainability content from multiple channels over 50% of the content we curate and select for inclusion in our collection comes from YouTube, suggesting as to the quality of YouTube content despite beliefs out there that is is all talking dogs and viral glop.

After all, one of the primary objectives of posting content is to get it viewed and to get it viewed you need to appear ideally “above the fold” on search page results for the key terms you want to get traction on for your cause, product, service, and/or brand.  Have you noticed the positive effect YouTube can have on page rankings not to mention it is the second most popular search engine?

Somethings I just don’t understand and not being on YouTube is one of them especially when you all ready have video content.

Screen shot 2012-08-21 at 11.31.46 AMHere by the way is the rest of the infographic (on Mashable) based on an analysis of 750,000 links posted on Twitter. Diffbot‘s new Page Classifier API was used to provide this revealing snapshot of a day in the life of Twitter. The tool identifies the type of content behind any web link.

Real Estate Transaction as Social Responsibility Action

Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 10.56.02 AMInvesting In Communities (IIC) is a young nonprofit empowering real estate professionals, like the founders and social entrepreneurs Michael Pink and Sharon Porter, to generate unrestricted revenue for non-profits through real estate transactions whether the client is an individual or company. Think of IIC as a client-directed, broker-funded social responsibility program.

It puts CSR into the real estate transaction to benefit communities.

IIC is an innovative program that corporations can launch as part of their CSR and sustainability initiatives for their real estate transactions as well as for those of their employees, enhancing the reputation of all and increasing the visibility of the broker, the employee, and the leaders of the company and the non-profit. Everybody wins.

Real estate brokers, as members of IIC, commit 10% of their commission from IIC-related Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 10.23.16 AMtransactions to the non-profits of the clients’ choice. The membership fee is nominal at $150.00 per year.  A recent Cone study reported “Anywhere from 87 percent to 96 percent of consumers in all countries expect companies to be doing something to support causes” ranging from economic development, environmental and human rights to health, education and poverty.

As part of increasing the visibility of these brokers, organizations, and their employees we here at EarthSayers are teaming up with IIC to feature online videos of their participants in an IIC special collection on our all video site,, voices of sustainability.  Now over 1,000 voices strong gives our citizens easy Web access to the largest collection of thought leaders on sustainability in the world.

As the curator of the IIC special collection, I have been scanning the Web for videos of thought leaders around these two phrases, investing in communities and impact investing. The first step in creating a special collection starts with definitions.

Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 10.56.25 AMSo to get us started, here is a short interview (video) with the author, Jed Emerson in which he defines impact investing; gives good examples; and distinguishes it from socially responsible investing.  He is co-author of the book, Impact Investing. Click on the image to order from

There will be more to come.

IIC logo for blogInvesting In Communities® enables individuals and businesses to fund non-profits through brokered real estate transactions. Anyone can use IIC – individuals, business or organizations – for any commercial or residential real estate transaction using any broker they choose to give their assignment to.

CSR staff can leverage the real estate transactions of their company and employees to enhance corporate giving without touching the bottom line while significantly increasing brand awareness and reputation with the IIC program. It starts with creating an account here. It’s that simple.

earthsayers_logo for is the only thought leadership platform that highlights business and civic leaders, experts, teachers, students, and citizens from all walks of life who are addressing one or more of the twenty-eight sustainability categories under the elements of planet, people, and prosperity. With nearly 1,000 videos we have created special collections around environmental, social, and economic challenges ranging from climate change to human rights to social entrepreneurship and investment.  We include interviews from events such as those produced by 3BL Media for the Ceres Conference 2011.

Sustainability Advocate is by Ruth Ann Barrett, Founder and CEO of, voices of sustainability, Portland, Oregon, February 29, 2012.

Sustainability: Not Any One Issue

Screen shot 2012-02-08 at 11.30.29 AMThis is a quick look at the results  of the 2011 CONE/ECHO Global CR Opportunity Study that is available here at the Cone site and looked at through a sustainability lens. The takeaway cited by the authors is that  “consumers globally believe companies have an explicit responsibility to help change the world.”

Can there be but one issue anymore?

Screen shot 2012-02-08 at 11.38.03 AMOr put all the wood behind one arrow.

whole picture

This same information, with a shift in the lens to a sustainability perspective rather than pieces and parts, unifies and integrates moving us toward the requirement of an interconnected holistic approach, using the integrated elements of sustainability strategically.

The lens we use to ask for opinions and present information about those opinions can’t be the same one we’ve been using for the last thirty years . How we use information to motivate and inspire citizens and organizations of all stripes to change their consumption habits is the challenge for all of us who accept “explicit responsibility to help change the world” and who are marketers and communicators.

Can we agree on this?

Here’s some examples of messages that educate, motivate and inspire while addressing the whole, not pieces and parts:

Rethinking the Economy by Ellen MacArthur Foundation,

disConnected Consciousness by environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill,

and John Marshall Roberts on the Science of Inspiration.

By: Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate,, February 8, 2012, Portland, Oregon.

Reach Out and Educate with Your Voice

And make sure you are on YouTube.


In October 2011, 201.4 billion videos were viewed online, with the global viewing audience reaching 1.2 billion unique viewers age 15 and older. Google Sites led as the top global video property with nearly 88.3 billion videos viewed on the property during the month, accounting for 43.8% of all videos viewed globally. was the key driver of video viewing on Google Sites, accounting for more than 99% of videos viewed on the property. Source is comScore Video Metrix as reported in MediaPost’s Research Brief, Media Research Center, Tuesday, January 3, 2012.

Of course putting content out on the Web regardless whether it is text or video requires seeding the Web to increase page rankings and the probability of your content being found, viewed, and judged as relevant and of quality.

Lots of work ahead of us in 2012 to get the voices of sustainability out there and heard. We will exceed the 1,000 voices mark this month and look to 2,000 in 2012.

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.

User Generated Content Fit to Publish – Part II

Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 4.31.17 PMIn Part I of this blog post,  I wrote about the shift that’s going on with user generated content, most particularly in the context of news and the recent publishing of said content (a photo) by the New York Times.

Today, it’s about a video made of a Fox News reporter interviewing a participant in Occupy Wall Street tmegaphonehat was published in the Huff Post the  “Internet Newspaper: News Blogs Video Community” as well as on YouTube.   The point I am making is traditional media are opening up their video channels to user generated content.  Here is the not-so-traditional Huff Post open invitation.

Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 2.35.56 PM

Citizens with video camera’s take note.

And here is the formal invitation:

Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 2.35.40 PMAs I said the landscape of citizen-powered video reporting is evolving and in the last few weeks it is blooming.  It’s twisting the meaning of video (TV) news in an environment already mostly entertainment and talking heads, reducing the “just breaking” to a scrolling headline.

The Web is more about your time, what’s new to you, making it a far more interesting channel than TV for documentaries, stories, and interviews that contribute to the new news flow.   While social media has focused on the immediate, the Web of video is also part now, but unlike posts using blogs, twitter and Facebook, it has a much longer shelf life, a longer tail.

The thing about user generated content that was rife especially before journalists turned to blogging was the quality issue, not just in style and good grammar, but being detached, checking facts, and being accurate. This brings me to the article from the Center for Media Research headlined “News Organizations Take It On the Chin” summarizing the Pew Research Center’s report. The bleak Screen shot 2011-10-04 at 5.11.02 PMfindings include “negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center has been tracking since 1985.  More to the point, “Fully 66% say news stories often are inaccurate, 77% think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations.”  And, back to the Internet thing, “Among those younger than 30, the internet far surpasses television as the main source for national and international news.” Oh Boy.

Oh boy.

A perfect time for schools of journalism to sponsor public discussions, seminars and debates in partnership with the citizen-powered media folks such as Amy Goodman and Michael Moore.  Amy’s interview of Michael on Democracy Now is great as is her speech at the news conference she gave yesterday at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where hundreds are camped out with the Occupy Wall Street protest.  She announced the landmark settlement stemming from her arrest (over forty  journalists were arrested) in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention.

User Generated Content Fit to Publish – Part I

There’s the New York Times as content maker, the role we are all familiar with, and channel, the role we assume, but do not label, especially with the tv-like word, channel.

In the last week the New York Times demonstrates a shift that’s going on with user generated content from all bad to, well, interesting. Let’s take a look.

Front page New York Times – photography with cell phone. Video example is of pepper spraying police officer which was all over the news this last week.

New York Times Cellphone PhotoAnd then there was the “homemade” video that made it on to their video channel (page) for a series about love and relationships which while not political, is social and cultural and a good start to incorporating citizen-powered online video into a mainstream channel.

Screen shot 2011-10-02 at 6.25.07 PM

And the video by the Times  (not clear if producer is on staff or not) that’s news about a performance art piece featuring naked performers has the look and feel of user generated content and addresses, er, transparency.

Screen shot 2011-10-02 at 6.31.19 PM

Hope the schools of journalism and communication are paying attention to this because writing it is not, fact checking it need not be, and when it comes to citizen-powered, video content it’s carpe diem or, well, get left behind.

We see the opportunity to pair a sustainability channel with sustainability-related social networks and subscriber bases for kick starting citizen-powered online video as part of the sustainability movement.   Cause marketing will never be the same. And journalism?