When it comes to advertising and choosing a potential audience, there is always a massive amount of consideration needed. You have to think about the overall design of the ad, how much information to display, how long it will be displayed at any given location, and the medium it will be displayed through. There are two thing that are most important above all, though. Foremost is the underlying reason for the advertising in the first place. Second, though no less important, is the target audience you want to reach by use of advertising. This is true for all institutions with the desire to advertise, even environmental organizations, where overall I have found the overall use of advertising to be subpar. In a specific case, let us consider the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). This organization’s mission is to “make the environment ever-present in the daily lives of Americans” by educating the American populace on issues of the environment by use of trusted sources (About NEEF, n.d.). However, when you investigate their work they only have programs and events dedicated to environmental awareness, all of which I have never even heard of despite being active in environmental fields as an environmental scientist and environmental advocate (Engaging, n.d.). There is no mention of how else they advertise and no indication that they use the best resource available to them: social media.

By doing some digging, it appears that their major source of advertising is through physical contact with Americans, though I did find they had a Facebook page with a sad 14,000 followers (NEEF, n.d.). However, if you think about this realistically, this is a failing system. The goal of their organization is to educate Americans on the environment, but it seems that they have severely limited their access to the American people. It also narrows their audience to the people who are already interested in environmental issues, as these type of people would be the ones to approach NEEF in a physical setting. This is a bad tactic because in this situation the audience most likely isn’t learning anything new. These people probably already know that the environment is in bad shape, and thus this should not be the target audience. But not only is the NEEF advertising to people of a singular mindset, but they are also advertising to a singular age group, who are primarily adults since they would be the people who would be able to attend such events. This is an incredibly poor marketing strategy because it narrows their audience down to people of a singular mindset, of a certain age, and of a specific geographic location. If the NEEF wants to actually impact the American people, to educate them and make thinking about the environment an active part of every American’s day, then they need to actively reach out to the people and not expect their audience to come to them. In order for the NEEF to achieve better advertising and therefore achieve their overarching mission, I propose they make use of social media to connect with the American people. But not only that, I also think that the NEEF should specifically target younger generations, primarily by use of Instagram.

By using social media platforms as a way to get into contact with the American people, the NEEF would be able to reach around 70% of the population (Social Media Fact Sheet, 2018). This means they would be able to potentially advertise to around 230 million people, which would be much more effective than trying to do the same, impossible amount of advertising in person (Population Clock, 2018). Marketing to younger audiences using Instagram is the optimal choice because according to a pole done by the University of Chicago, Instagram is the most used social media platform among teens (New Survey, 2017). According to the pole, 76% of teens age 13-17 are active on Instagram, topping all other media platforms, and if the goal is reaching the attention of the youth, Instagram is the place to do it (New Survey, 2017). However, there could be some opposition that would say it would be unbeneficial to advertise to youth for a number of reasons. One is that they don not care about the environment, but that is untrue! The younger generations care about the environment now more than ever. Due to the use of technology, younger people have more access to information around the world and can see the degraded state our planet is in. They see the pollution and the removal of vast habitats and most are horrified, they have yet to become numb to the harshness of our planet and they care deeply. The NEEF should focus on advertising to this group because they do care and they want to know more. Secondly, advertising to the youth would be more beneficial because younger generations are easier to influence and more willing to learn. Older generations are more likely to have already made up their minds on such issues or could not care about the environment either which way. Teens on the other hand are incredibly impressionable and are willing to learn because they realize there is so much that they do not know. All this makes teens the perfect target audience. But, if you want to advertise to the younger generations it is necessary to advertise where they will see it. Thus, social media platforms are the perfect solution.

In order to start advertising on Instagram, making a business account is the first step by either going through the application process or by porting over credentials through Facebook’s business advertising hub. Once the account is created then it will be available for the NEEF to customize the type of advertising they would like. Sadly, this is not a free service and it cost roughly $6.70 per 1000 views (ThriveHive, 2017). However, it has a huge amount of benefits by expanding the audience to a new demographic that was otherwise not being explored. By paying for this service, the NEEF would get the same access to advertising that Facebook has, since Facebook is the parent company of Instagram, and will be able to use targeted advertising and select different ad dispersion options. More advertising results in more people seeing the advertised businesses, and more likelihood of actually making an impact on the audience and getting the opportunity to convince them that environmental health is important.

By using Instagram as an advertising platform, the NEEF opens up their organization to an entirely new demographic of people that they otherwise would not have had access to. This younger audience is more impressionable and more likely to consider and join the environmental movement, and currently they are missing out on a great marketing opportunity and losing influence because of it. If the NEEF wants to reach their goal of making the environment present in the thoughts of American citizens on a daily basis, they are necessarily going to need to expand their advertising campaign. This brings it back around to the idea of why you are advertising in the first place. For them, it is education and it is a sad reality that they are currently educating a very few amount of people due to a lack of marketing. Hopefully they realize how useful social media is as a tool in the near future, they really do have an ideology I can get behind and I would love to see it flourish.






Works Cited

“About NEEF.” NEEF, National Environmental Education Foundation, www.neefusa.org/about-neef.

“Engaging People Every Day.” NEEF, National Environmental Education Foundation, www.neefusa.org/engaging.

“National Environmental Education Foundation – NEEF.” NEEF, National Environmental Education Foundation, www.facebook.com/NEEFusa/.

“New Survey: Snapchat and Instagram Are Most Popular Social Media Platforms among American Teens.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 21 Apr. 2017, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170421113306.htm.

“Social Media Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 5 Feb. 2018, www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/.

ThriveHive. “How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on Instagram?” ThriveHive, 20 Oct. 2017, www.thrivehive.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-advertise-on-instagram/.

“U.S. and World Population Clock.” United States Census Bureau, www.census.gov/popclock/.

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