It’s crazy to think that Instagram is less than 15 years old. Back then, you could easily spot an influencer with their 10K+ followers and blue tick mark. The rise of the environmental influencer is even more recent.
It was just 10 years ago, in 2013, when IG introduced paid ads. These ads sparked the rise of “influencers”. Content creators who connect and grow alongside a targeted audience (a niche audience).
In 2016 influencer marketing was valued at around $1.7 billion. In 2022, that number has skyrocketed to $16.4 billion!!
The real beauty of the influencer is their ability to connect to a niche audience. It allows smaller, more eco-friendly brands to connect with their audience in a way they never could before. A problem brought on by the large corporations always winning out with their massive marketing budgets.
What is an Environmental influencer and what do they do?
An influencer is a person that connects with their followers on a deeper level than a typical brand.
An environmental influencer has a story to tell. They are extremely passionate. And they know that now is the time to make massive changes in culture and it’s the perfect time for someone to stand up and make a difference.
The key to attracting an audience of followers is to be honest. Tell your truth. Live your truth. Be authentic.
How an environmental influencer can share their story and be authentic
The more the environmental influencer space grows, the better social media users have become at recognizing a phony. An account may talk about climate change and have 100K likes, but if all they do is promote brands like Ford, their success is sure to be short term.
As an influencer, the key to success is setting realistic goals and grow slowly. Organically. Forget about the vanity metrics (likes/followers) and be your most authentic self.
As great as it would be to get started and immediately round up 20K followers, the number of followers you have doesn’t matter if you aren’t getting engagement on your posts. It’s super easy to pay for some bots to “follow” your page.
The most common and often important metrics to pay attention to are engagement, impressions and reach.
Your engagement rate is calculated as the total number of interactions your content receives divided by your total number of followers, multiplied by 100. So if you receive an average number of 85 likes per post and you have 1,000 followers, your engagement rate would be 8.5% (the math -> (85/1000=.085) * 100 = 8.5%)
Impressions are how many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline
Reach is the potential unique viewers a post could have (usually your follower count plus accounts that shared the post’s follower counts).
If you are tracking these stats, and they are consistently growing, you are reaching your intended audience and all you need to do is keep being authentic!
Don’t let that huge follower count distract you from the little wins.
Connect with the like-minded environmental influencer
It’s natural to be envious of the massive environmental influencer accounts.
But don’t let it get you down. The majority of these influencers started off exactly as you are now, and once they connected with their audience in a special way and got a bit of luck, things really took off for them.
You’ll never see an inauthentic brand take off because no company paying for influencer marketing wants to be connected with anyone that could be potentially labeled as a green washer.
Take the time to connect with other like-minded individuals in your field. Find community meet-ups such as student clubs, or organizations focused on the environment and sustainability.
These connections can help you introduce yourself to potential collaborators, partners, and sponsors that may be able to assist in your mission. Additionally, having a supportive network of peers is essential for an influencer’s growth and success.
Once you have your community and your authentic voice, all it takes is some time before you can rise to the top!
Environmental influencers who rose to the top
Pretty much everyone in the environmental space knows the following influencers. Why? Because they all did something unique to them and it eventually got picked up by the masses.
Like the following influencers, they all did something unknown and later became dominant figures.
Lauren Singer @trashisfortossers
In 2012, Lauren Singer lived a zero waste life in which she fit a year’s worth of waste in a 16oz mason jar. A few years later she did a Ted Talk on her experience. She now has nearly 400K followers.
Greta Thunberg @gretathunberg
Greta began organizing school protests for climate change in 2018, dubbed Fridays for Future. She has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 – 2023.
Leah Thomas @intersectionalenvironmentalist
Leah Thomas is the founder of eco-lifestyle blog @greengirlleah The Intersectional Environmentalism Platform, which is a media resource that aims to incorporate inclusivity within environmental education.
That small list of influencers, it’s the same list the majority of websites will show you when you search for an environmental influencer.
Why? Because once you figure out what exactly your audience likes from you, it snowballs. Someone put Lauren Singer on a “top 10 list”, someone else copied that, another copied that. A couple years later she is one of the most influential influencers in the sustainability space.
Think about it. How many “trash jars” do you see now? Tons. Why aren’t those accounts successful? Because it’s played out. It’s not authentic and organic. It’s trying to catch a train that’s already left the station.
Quality content for Environmental influencers
Keys to success for all future environmental influencers: Create quality content. Create authentic content.
Follow those keys and your success will come 😉
If you’re hoping to turn your influencer platform into a full on money making business, here’s a step-by-step guide for starting an eco-friendly business!