15 Nov How to be a Social Media Advocate for Conservation & Public Lands
Social media is no longer just for creeping on your exes or posting a shot of the buck you killed last fall. It has grown into a powerhouse of a resource for public opinion to be heard and more importantly, taken seriously. It is a place to raise awareness on issues near and dear to our hearts, start conversations surrounding these issues, and showcase to the world who we are as conservation minded sportsmen and public land advocates.
Now a days, there are many ways you can be an advocate for conservation on social media, all without being the world’s next selfie studded Instagram star. In fact, your page does not even need to be public! Here are a few tips on how you can join the online fight to protect our sporting heritage.
- Press # – Hashtags have the power to unite our voice as public land owners on social media and increase engagement among new folks looking to join in on the conversation. Don’t know what hashtag to use? Check the bio of any conservation group on Instagram for the latest: #KeepItPublic, #PublicLandOwner
PRO TIP: For those of you with private pages, your photos will not pop up in the hashtag streams, however that does not mean you should disregard this point. Using hashtags in your post will still be seen by your followers (including your nosey mom who likes every single one of your photos) which helps raise awareness in itself.
- Follow Legislators – Social media has made a major impact on legislation. Think about it, social media gives the public the means to respond instantaneously to proposed bills and weigh in on various issues by directly targeting the source, our policy makers. We witnessed the impact social media can have on legislation firsthand back in February 2017 when Utah Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, announced he was withdrawing proposed bill H.R. 621 on Instagram within days of it’s introduction. The withdrawal came after a tidal wave of public land advocates took to Chaffetz’s social media accounts to let their voices be heard. Collectively, thousands of public land enthusiasts interacted by utilizing hashtags such as #keepitpublic along with hundreds of others commenting to voice their opposition of the sale of federal lands.
PRO TIP: When you decide to comment on elected official’s social media pages, be sure to compose your thoughts in a respectful and positive manner. Cursing, threatening, and bad mouthing are unnecessary and can further perpetuate some of the stereotypes surrounding the hunting and angling community.
- Share Conservation Events – Going to your local conservation chapter’s pint night? Headed to the field for a volunteer day? Post about it! Sharing events on social media helps spread the word. The more folks attending these types of events, the better. Have never been to a conservation event? Give it a go. You can expect good beer, good people, and great conversation. Make sure to take pictures while you’re there!
- Show Off What Mother Nature Gave Ya – Your coworkers might not understand why public lands are important to you, but with the help of social media it’s easy to shine the light on what makes these lands great. Showcase landscapes, highlight your knowledge of the animals you’re hunting or the fish you’re pursuing, and share the reasons why keeping public lands in public hands is meaningful to you.
- Keep it Classy – No one wants to see inappropriate pictures of your brother biting the head off a fish. Save photos like that for blackmail at family gatherings. Hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike have an inherent responsibility to show respect toward America’s public lands, including the critters that live there.
We’ve entered an age where engagement online is a strong and powerful tool that unites our voice as sportsmen and women. It’s up to us as a collective group to be vocal and active on social media as conservation and public land advocates. We’d be foolish to overlook the strength of this platform as a means to impacting public policy. Opportunity is there. It is up to us to take it.