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Communication in Conservation

Logo: New Forest National Park

By Hayden Bridgeman, North Area Ranger

Screenshot of a social media video of a woman dressed as a poo emoji
(New Forest National Park Authority)

Social media plays a huge part in our daily lives, whether we like it or not. It’s where we go to consume a lot of our information. Whether it’s looking at what our friends and family are up to, what’s going on across the world or wanting to get to know a new place. It’s quick, easy to access and somewhat addictive (but that’s a matter for another article).

There are lots of different sides to social media, from doom-scrolling and dance trends to hidden adverts and influencers and with it always comes a big reminder to use it in moderation and to not believe everything you see. Having said that, it is a useful resource. According to Forbes Social Media trends of 2023(1) the average person spends about ‘145 minutes on social media’ per day with ‘short-form videos – typically less than a minute in length – capturing the attention of 66% of all consumers.’ That’s a lot of information digested in a very fast paced way. Long gone are the days of spending hours trawling through web pages or brochures trying to find what you want. A lot of the time on social media you also see/find/read things you didn’t necessarily sign up to see. This new way of consuming information means as a creator you don’t have that long before someone might have scrolled past what you want them to look at - you want to make it as easy as possible.

You might be wondering as a conservationist why you should think about social media trends when you are too busy worrying about the state of the planet – and don’t worry I agree. But when we are worrying about the state of the planet and wanting to spread the message of how to protect it, social media can be a great resource to get the information out to lots of people.

When leading a guided walk, you can reach potentially around 25 people. When attending a local fete or county show you can reach hopefully around 500. When you’re on social media your reach is pretty much endless. Our New Forest National Park Authority Instagram currently has 21,100 followers! That’s not guaranteed that all those 21,100 followers are looking at everything we do, but it’s a captive audience that have access to our messaging, so it’s a good start. Social media also allows anyone to easily access information about the New Forest before even visiting. Which is great when we get around 15.8-million-day visits from 1.5 million individual visitors! That’s a lot of people to get our Care For The Forest messages to.

With that online following we want to make sure our content is being watched, we want to attract new audiences and continue to be current. The way we can do that is by creating engaging short form content and follow what is trending.

Screenshot from a social media video of a woman dressed as a carrot
(New Forest National Park Authority)

This helps because:

  • It gets people looking at all our content including the serious messages about how to protect the National Park. If they’ve seen a funny video that they enjoyed from us previously then they might be more likely to trust our content to be engaging and therefore take in our serious content too
  • Funny content can also have serious messaging within it
  • Visitors, both locals and tourists, have the ability to be able to access up to date current information and have a real view of what is happening out on the forest at the moment with snap shot style photos and videos
  • The more people click on our profile and engage with us, the more people see it

   
A few examples from the New Forest:

Dog poo campaign video

We dressed up as poo’s! One of our messages in the Forest is we ask dog owners to pick up after their dog. We find that dressing up like this is a real conversation starter. People really stop to look at us and ask what we are doing – they come up to us rather than us having to approach them. It works when we are out and about so we decided to turn it into an Instagram Reel! And it went down so well!

7,456 accounts reached
240 Likes
1,161 of those accounts were not ones that followed us at the time – hopefully they are now!

Screenshot of a social media video
(New Forest National Park Authority)

Carrot campaign video

We also dressed up as carrots! (You can sense a theme!)

We have recently introduced a Public Space Protection Order in the New Forest which focuses on reducing pony petting and feeding incidents. This is quite a serious introduction into the Forest but we still want to remain a friendly welcoming place whilst also giving out this messaging. We find that these kinds of scenarios create a good atmosphere to be able to have a conversation and encourage people to listen.

It worked so well online too and provided us a great fun opportunity to get our messages out there online too.

4,163 Views
425 Likes!

Ground nesting birds

    We created another video narrating live footage of two protected ground nesting birds in a comic strip style video. Again, it went down well as it played on a trend at the time of making animals talk but included our New Forest messaging in it.

    6,402 Views
    266 Likes

    These are all examples of ways we’ve turned serious messaging into a fun engagement opportunity with hopefully lots of views/engagement. If you take one thing away from this article, I think it should be to have fun! There’s lots of horrible things happening in the world and we all want nature to be around for generations to come. If we can spread our messages in a fun, engaging, educational way then hopefully audiences and visitors will be more likely to listen and help us protect nature.

    Infographic for New Forest Park Authority
    (New Forest National Park Authority)

    Be sure to check out our Instagram for other fun videos and look forward to seeing yours!

    All the best, from Hayden the Ranger in the New Forest 

    @newforestnpa

    Oh, and if you’re in the New Forest be sure to check out the New Forest code


    References:

    1: Top Social Media Statistics And Trends Of 2023 – Forbes Advisor

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    Posted On: 23/10/2023

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