In 1990, a group of local residents concerned with the continued development of Aquidneck Island created the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT), a non-profit organization whose mission is “preserving Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community.” Through education, outreach, stewardship, and conservation ALT has been able to conserve over 2,500 acres on Aquidneck Island. In addition to the 5 full-time staff, The Aquidneck Land Trust is overseen by more than 20 trustees and guided by over 20 additional Advisory Board members who provide knowledge in the areas of law, agriculture, finance, real estate and environmental conservation.
ALT protects multiple projects including water resources like watersheds, agricultural resources, wildlife habitats, and promotes biodiversity on Aquidneck Island. ALT is able to conserve land by using a Conservation Easement, which is a purchase of the developmental rights of the land. The land is chosen based on its conservation values such as if the location is part of a watershed if it has scenic views, and if it is publicly accessible. These developmental rights can be purchased or donated. Once ALT has the rights, they monitor the land on an annual basis to make sure the conservation easement is not being broken. Once the land is under the ALT’s wing, they offer walk and talk tours of the property to educate the public on why conserving these lands is so important.
To keep the Aquidneck Island residents involved with the organization’s mission, ALT has a membership program, which gives members discounts with partnered farms, invitations to meetings and events, and both a weekly email and print newsletter. In addition to a membership program, ALT hosts multiple fundraising events including the 5K “Race for Open Space” whose track goes through the ALT’s preserved land and Fiesta Verde, an annual dinner and dancing fundraiser in the summer so the seasonal residents can contribute to the ALT’s mission.
For the upcoming year, ALT has multiple goals they would like to reach outside of their conservation efforts. Each of these goals can apply to the three points stated in the ALT’s mission statement; education, outreach, and stewardship. They would like to cultivate more positive landowner relations, become the go-to resource for environmental issues, and increase their membership base.
SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT
ALT has a presence on all three major social media platforms, but this audit will be specifically looking at the ALT’s use of Facebook and Twitter. The ALT’s Facebook has just over 1,500 likes and has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating. Their profile photo and cover photo are a great image of their logo and notes of their 25th anniversary. They have three buttons on their page; contact us which brings you back to the website, a like button, and message button. Having a button that connects the user back to the webpage is a great way to drive traffic to their site. The About page does a good job giving people more contact information by listing their phone number and address to their office. The ALT’s mission statement is listed in both the “Short Description” section and “Mission” section. It would be better if ALT could provide a short description of how they are able to fulfill their mission.
ALT posts once a day or every couple of days, which the perfect amount to stay on their followers’ radar while not overwhelming their feed. They do a great job responding and liking comments, which is a great way to show followers that you are interested in what they have to say. A great example of this is seen in Figure 1. Promoting a raffle through Facebook is a unique to reach their audience, but it is the engagement with the follower who posted her own photo of her rain barrel that makes their followers feel the personal connection with the ALT.
Most of ALT’s posts are driven to increase engagement with followers, but not through the web. Instead it tries to drive their followers to the ALT’s properties through photos and descriptions. This can be seen in Figure 2 from a post made on August 25th. This post got a lot of engagement with followers, including 2 comments, 20 likes and 2 shares. By encouraging followers to see the work that ALT does, it can organically incite followers to donate or get a membership without outwardly asking for it.
While ALT’s Facebook page has a lot of posts about their own lands and events, it is important to curate information. Whether it is an article from a national newspaper that talks about similar things ALT does, or about news from other island’s organizations that connect back to ALT, curating posts would be a great way to give their followers more knowledge on the core elements of what ALT does. It will also give followers the feeling that ALT takes pride in the Aquidneck Island’s community and wants to be as involved with the ins and outs of the island as they are with preserving it.
Since ALT is all about preserving Aquidneck Island, Instagram is a great way to show off the ALT’s properties. Their profile photo is a picture of the “A” in their logo, and they have a simple bio that states their mission statement along with the year of establishment. They also have a link to their website. ALT has 100 followers, 32 posts and is following 37 people most of whom are organizations or news publications on the island.
The feed has a good mixture of photos of their land, as seen in Figure 3, and photos from events, whether they are fundraisers or walk and talks as seen in Figure 4. ALT does a good job using this medium to promote their own conservation efforts without being aggressive about asking their followers to donate. As seen in their Facebook posts these posts are organically encouraging their followers to contribute to their cause. All of the ALT’s photos get an average amount of engagement, with at least 6 likes on every photo. While the photos are all high quality, the filters sometimes take the natural beauty away from the photos, which makes it difficult for a viewer to see the ALT’s “best self” which is common among popular Instagrams.
While it is difficult for ALT to consistently post on Instagram, they can make up for the lack of posts through creating a narrative. Most posts tended to just state what the photo was of. Instead, offering a fun fact about the location, or a little history of how ALT obtained the land would be a great way to give the viewer a story behind the photo. This narrative can also be used when promoting events. For example, in Figure 5 ALT could have crafted a narrative that discussed what the film was about, or why they chose it for the Green Screen series.
SOCIAL MEDIA RECOMMENDATIONS
Looking to add social media as a tool to help ALT achieve their three goals in 2016, this audit as looks to offer recommendations and sample posts that can be used as a stepping-stone for ALT to achieve their goals.
Go to Environmental Resource
ALT has stated that they want to be Aquidneck Island residents go-to source for anything environmental. In order to do this, they need to show their followers that they are knowledgeable enough to be that group. Curating information has the best results on Facebook because it is a platform that is meant to share information. People expect news to be shared on Facebook so a post about an article will fit right in on the ALT’s followers’ newsfeed. The ALT’s Facebook is also where they have the most reach on social media, which makes it a good place to show their expansive knowledge.
ALT posts regularly on Facebook, so incorporating curated information will be easy on their scheduling. It is recommended that ALT curate environmental news articles twice a week. A sample post can be seen in Figure 6. This post curates information from local news source that Aquidneck Island residents would recognize while giving them news they might not necessarily be aware of. The short, causal caption leaves the follower curious about what the article is about, and could influence them to look at the article for more information. These posts could also create a conversation around the article’s topic on the ALT’s Facebook page, which could lead to an increased follower engagement.
This recommendation can help ALT reach it’s “become the go-to resource for environmental issues” goal because it is not only showing that they keep up to date with the environmental news, but they also can discuss it. In order to be that resource you need to prove that you know the knowledge and curating information is the perfect way to show that ALT not only has the knowledge, but can answer questions if need be, and apply it to the work they are doing on the island.
ALT is looking to increase the number of memberships in the year of 2016. It is hard to create talk about membership without coming across as promotional, so a Facebook competition is one of the easiest ways to create awareness about the ALT’s membership program. The ALT’s Facebook is the social media platform that has the most followers and interaction, which makes it a good fit for a competition. Facebook also has a lot of different features to share information, which gives the ALT’s followers options for spreading awareness about the membership program.
The Facebook contest would work in two phases. The first phase would have the ALT’s followers suggest their friends to like ALT’s Facebook page and to sign up for a membership. If you sign up for a membership you must write down who recommended you become a member and like the ALT’s page. Once this is done you get put into a raffle to win two tickets to ALT’s annual Fiesta Verde bash during the summer. Anyone who’s suggested a friend to sign up for a membership also gets to enter the raffle.
What this contest does is not only drive traffic to the ALT’s Facebook page but also gives people an extra incentive to become a member, which could increase the number of memberships ALT has. With a competition, you cannot guarantee that you are going to have X number of memberships signed up at the end. By making the people who become members like the ALT’s Facebook, it could also create more brand awareness on that social media platform.
Positive Landowner Relations
Since ALT only owns the development rights to the lands they are conserving they must work with the landowners to ensure that the land is being conserved properly. This involves a lot of communication and ALT has expressed wanting to find new ways to cultivate positive landowner relations. Allowing the landowners to post their own photos and stories as to why they donated or allowed ALT to purchase their developmental rights on Instagram gives the landowners a chance to have a voice. Instagram is the perfect platform for this plan because it is a platform where people appreciate narratives.
This would be a running series on Instagram, with the goal of giving every landowner ALT is partnered with a chance to tell their own story and vocalize why they donated or allowed ALT to purchase the development rights of their land. The ideal post would consist of a photo of the land, with or without the landowner in the photo. The caption would give the first name of the landowner and when the land was acquired by the ALT. The caption would be a short story or quote from the landowner, which states why they chose to donate or allowed ALT to purchase their development rights. Since this would be an ongoing series there would also be the hashtag #WhyALT to go along with the posts. This hashtag can then be promoted on other platforms and can serve multiple purposes.
This series gives the landowners that ALT is partnered with a voice. When an organization and person are “sharing” the rights to something it can sometimes come across as a business or legal transaction, which at the surface it is. By giving the landowners the opportunity to speak up and have a voice within the organization, it will make them feel welcome and more comfortable with the organization, which would lead to a more positive relationship between the two. This series could also potentially encourage other landowners around Aquidneck Island to donate their development rights to ALT, which could help the organization’s conservation grow.