Can social media help save NZ Nature? Behind the hashtag #MayDay4Doc

When a television broadcaster throws non-bias to the wind and goes all out to call a government to task, we, the people of New Zealand, need to take notice.


The crux: Jesse Mulligan announced on TV3’s The Project that he was calling for a #MayDay4Doc – asking the government to give more money (a lot more money) to the department of conservation on budget day, May 25, to protect our environment.

“To the Government, remember, a surplus isn’t a surplus if you’re borrowing from our future, from our environment, and from our international reputation,” said Jesse.


I almost missed this whole thing because my TV goes fuzzy on TV3. I live in the trees and it’s not conducive to a good picture. But never fear, social media delivered me the content and boy it got my attention. This was not some entertaining TV segment. This is a campaign and to launch it Jesse will have had to do more than tell his employers “this is something I feel passionate about”. It may not have even been Jesse’s idea. He might just be aligned to it and the front man of a much bigger force.

I’d even go so far to posit that this is an effort to spark an uprising in election year – to raise awareness that this government is not for environment. And to say guess what? It matters. To reach out to all those New Zealanders who are well aware of that and simply don’t care (“just mine it, we need the dollars we need the jobs”). To say hey, remember how tourism is our biggest industry? Our tourist dollar depends on the health of our biodiversity and the beauty of our national parks.

It’s incredible the apathy that abounds about our number one asset and go TV3 for trying to break through.

Because I’m doing a course in social media marketing at Unitec, I want to look into more detail at the campaign components in an effort to answer the question ‘Can social media help save NZ Nature?’

“The first step to change is awareness”

Video is King!

It all started back on April 3 when Jesse first launched the campaign on the show and then the clip was loaded on the The Project’s Facebook page.

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Here’s a transcript by Newshub if you prefer words. By the way, a quirk of Facebook is not showing share, reaction or comment numbers for this video, but you can see it got 400 thousand views which is wildly impressive. I just worked out how to embed Facebook videos into my blog (because they’re not on youtube so it’s not a simple embed) which I also think is wildly impressive – it involved code people!!

The follow up came on May 9 raving about the engagement and giving a boost to the campaign. 

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and a follow up on May 10

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Video really does seem to be where engagement lies on social media. The amount of views that some videos get is phenomenal. The viewings of this video as shared on the NZ Greens page went up 20,000 in one day.

Forbes says 59% of people share content without reading it. But video is different. Make no mistake, video does get watched.

Giving people a voice

The comment section allows people to voice their opinions on your content. Engagement rates are high on the video posts. Of course there are some naysayers. The anti-1080 brigade are anti-doc. The money grabbers say hey it’s all over, they didn’t need to do this, there was a pre-budget announcement (#notenough). But overall the reaction has been firmly in favour of the campaign. And every comment whether positive or negative is engagement and getting the subject talked about.

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What’s in a hashtag?

The power in the hashtag is reach extension because it makes it a clickable public link. By adopting a popular hashtag you join a conversation which is outside of your online ‘friends’ or ‘followers’. Individuals and companies can also jump on board a popular hashtag to show their values to their followers. Careful risk analysis is needed to take into consideration any negative repercussions but judicious backing of a popular cause can also grow your company fanbase (particularly with millennials who are very values-driven).

I’m new to this hashtag lark and slightly sceptical of its actual power. I’d absolutely love to see it really proving its worth with this cause but a quick search on Instagram yesterday showed only 29 posts and a check today showed only 4 more people have used the hashtag with the total standing at 33. A search for the hashtag was similarly disappointing on Facebook really. It doesn’t count the posts for you but scrolling through I got to the end pretty quickly. Today I did a manual count and it stands at 56. Twitter doesn’t show a running total either when you search for a particular hashtag. Today my manual count is (approximately – it was hard with the scrolling!) 167. Twitter wins! These are still pretty paltry sums really but they do drive views of the video and with retweet possibilities it’s a case of compound interest.

So this is my call to you…

♥♥♥    Show me the power of hashtag and #Mayday4Doc   ♥♥♥

One of my favourite shares was headed “For Frodo”.

I’ve had to do my counts manually which is by no means accurate but if you’ve started a hashtag there are paid-for tools you can use to track its success – and crucially monitor its use so that you can shut down any inappropriate use. Here’s a useful article on hashtag tracking from Social Media Examiner.

Gathering backers

Backers will help your message get out to more people as your backers will share your content with their followers. In this case the two main invested parties are Forest and Bird and The NZ Green Party (who initiated a petition). Gareth Morgan’s Opportunities Party is also on board. The campaign aligns perfectly with these backers’ values and they can use it to promote these views while hoping that the bonus will be a growth in their own membership.

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FB2Conclusion: Since this campaign started back on April 3, it could be credited for helping to bring about the recent announcement to raise funding for tourism and DOC reported here in the Herald. It’s certainly helping to keep the issue alive. It’s not May 25 yet and we want more money for DOC. The pre-budget announcement is not enough.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool to mobilise people en masse.  It can raise awareness exponentially and build pressure on those that make decisions.  It can stir people’s emotions and entice them to act. It can also make that action incredibly easy and therefore more likely to be made. As easy as sharing content or signing an online petition. Social media is a powerful tool for companies (here’s an interesting article, again from Social Media Examiner on how to estimate your social media return on investment) and it is, thankfully, also a powerful tool for social change and social good.

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One thought on “Can social media help save NZ Nature? Behind the hashtag #MayDay4Doc

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  1. The social media campaign would most likely have played a part in the pre-budget DOC funding announcement – it would certainly have helped keep the issue at the forefront.

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