Green, a Dead End For Social Networks?

by Marguerite Manteau-Rao

A while ago, I wrote about ‘Why Green Social Networks Don’t Work‘:

Green social networks are popping all over the place. Frankly, I have stopped keeping track. They want us to become engaged, and to change our behaviors, fast. They claim to have all kind of tools to help us accomplish the impossible. How come then, I am not more enthused? I, out of all people, who spend so much time on the topic, should be an easy sell.

Here is what I think is missing from all these sites. A lack of understanding of basic psychology, and of the way real people change their behaviors. I do not decide ‘I want to be green’, and ask for someone to whip me into shape. Actually, I may, but the truth is, that kind of intention is not sustainable. I do not need to add yet another thing on my already long to-do list. I want solutions to my everyday problems, as in more convenient, cheaper, smarter.

Two months later, with the gas, food, and mortgage crisis hitting the American people on multiple fronts, more than ever is it important for green social network entrepreneurs to revise their strategies. And to come down from their lofty green goals, and start addressing Josephine’s pain, as related here in a recent New York Times article:

‘Josephine Cage, who fillets fish, said her 30-mile commute from Tchula to Isola in her 1998 Ford Escort four days a week is costing her $200 a month, or nearly 20 percent of her pay. “I make it by the grace of God,” she said, and also by replacing meat at supper with soups and green beans and broccoli. She fills her car a little bit every day, because “I can’t afford to fill it up. Whatever money I have, I put it in.”’

Josephine, and a growing group of citizens, from all socio-economic stratas, have much to say to social entrepreneurs. ‘Grab us where we are hurting the most, and offer us tools that we really need, not just ‘nice to have’ green networks.’ It may very well be, that the best way to engage users into adopting greener behaviors, is not through a direct green message. But rather, by helping them ease the pinch in their pocketbooks.

I am curious, what is your experience with green social networks, both from a personal and a professional standpoints? Do you share my views? Which strategies do you suggest for current and future green social networks?

Marguerite Manteau-Rao is a green blogger and marketing consultant on sustainability and social media issues. Her blog, La Marguerite, focuses on behavioral solutions to climate change and other global sustainability issues.