Over 3.4 billion people – nearly half of the world's population – now use social media, with 2.2 billion active users on Facebook, 1.9 billion on YouTube, 1 billion on Instagram and 335 million on Twitter.
Social media has a key role when it comes to dealing with the global water crisis. Here are some of the ways in which it can help.
On the most basic level, social media platforms can heighten awareness of water-related issues and programs. Facebook and Twitter have made it much easier to disseminate news reports and research statistics, while Instagram and YouTube can be utilised for visual images. This helps increase the reach to encompass those who might be missed by traditional media sources. Social media is also essential for the success of fundraising campaigns, such as Rojava water project in Northern Syria.
A good example of the importance of social media in addressing water problems is the role it played in helping avert a “Day Zero” crisis in Cape Town in 2018, with residents sharing water saving tips on social media and a grassroots campaign mobilizing through WhatsApp.
A step up from raising awareness is encouraging people to act, and here social media has proved equally important. From promoting people to use hashtags to getting them to take to the streets to demand change and everything in between, there is no denying the role played by new media networks. Global campaigns have been launched on World Water Day via social media and platforms such as Twitter have been effectively used to mobilize collective action, such as during the 2016 Flint Water Crisis in the US.
Social media has also made it much easier to disseminate videos and photos to large numbers of people. Traditionally, you would need to rely on mainstream TV stations and news outlets to circulate visual images to a wide audience. Now, with platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, those such as campaigners, researchers, journalists and water industry professionals can share important stories related to the water crisis.
These platforms have also made it possible to live stream important events, such as World Water Week gatherings, to increase global engagement with these issues.
Whether you're a water innovator who has come up with a revolutionary new product, service or app, or a company or community that wants to promote a report highlighting your water efficiency methods, social media is a vital tool in getting that information out there. This is not only a boost for those doing the sharing, it also helps to share best practice and spread good water efficiency messages which can help reduce the water footprint at community, national and global level.
It's not just mainstream media and general public discourse that is being influenced by social media. Academic research is also adapting to incorporate and make use of social media platforms to complement traditional research methods. Researchers of the 2019 Chennai water crisis have used over 70,000 user comments from over 600 YouTube videos to help better understand the underlying factors of the crisis.
While not having the depth of wordy reports, press releases or informative videos, GIFs, memes and infographics are all forms of social media shorthand and a useful way of transforming a message into an easily digestible slice that can be great for grabbing people's attention. In the digital age where everyone is competing to be heard, you cannot overlook the power of condensing an important message into something that can be consumed and understood in a matter of seconds.
Water Experts can help you plan your social media strategy to promote your water message, as well as offering you expert water management advice and providing cutting-edge water sustainability technology such as the Q-Drop renewable drinking water system.