How digital media could help to boost recycling rates
Don’t you love the night before bin collection day? Rifling through days-old food containers, at times holding your breath, silently retching whilst gingerly placing a fetid receptacle into its rightful home.
Now imagine how much you’d love it if you had nothing to do with the industry… You’d want to know it was all worth it, right? You’d probably want it to be as easy as humanly possible too. We’ve all been there with a tin lightly-festooned with mould filaments in one hand and a smartphone in the other, desperately googling what goes where.
So… how are we doing in terms of motivating the average Joe to regularly get his hands dirty? Unfortunately, it seems UK recycling rates are dropping for the first time ever. British consumers report confusion regarding what can be recycled and what happens once their recycling has been collected.
This is possibly on account of the manner in which the subject is being communicated.
Current guidance to local authorities around how to raise awareness around recycling covers all your traditional broadcast channels: TV, radio, press, outdoor, PR, door-to-door canvassing, and vehicle livery. However, today’s public is primarily online and looking for more than a simple reminder that the concept of recycling exists.
They want to be able to instantly find out whether something can be recycled and what bin to put it in. They want data about what happens to it after it’s been driven away, videos that tell the story of its journey around the world, and infographics that explain the progress being made. And they want this (nay, expect this) to appear in their social newsfeeds so that they can’t help but stumble upon it whilst they go about their daily business of checking out the latest cat videos.
Many local authorities have social media channels, which they do use to promote recycling, but possibly only to pay lip service to the fact that they should. With the right guidance, so much more could be done. Being clear which channels your audience like best, and which they are most likely to engage with a piece of content about recycling is a good first step. Then it’s about creating content that is designed to fly on those channels: pithy and to the point, tagged up to its eyeballs, with crystal clear signposting, and a headline that screams ‘I’m better than a cat video’.
To sum up...
Be where your audiences are looking for information:
- Know what search terms they are using around the subject of recycling
- Optimise your content to appear next to those terms
- Create new content for terms that you aren’t yet servicing
- Create relevant onward journeys to feed any hunger for more information
- Encourage sign ups to email newsletters to keep audiences informed of progress and to deepen engagement
Be where your audience are, even when they aren’t looking for information:
- Identify the channels where they’d be most receptive to information about recycling
- Be clear on how you can best grab their attention in those spaces, thinking of the content you will be rubbing shoulders with
- Research which formats work best on your chosen channels, and check out best practice guidelines (e.g. always put subtitles on videos)
- Prepare a content calendar that plots out key moments in the minds of your audience, against which you can frame your content to increase relevance.
The great thing is that as people become more familiar with digital platforms, expectations around production values are plummeting. Videos and images shot on smartphones are now standard fare, which works well with today’s climate of budget cuts!