How we communicate sustainability and sustainability related issues are crucial. Getting it right can mean having real positive impact and driving change, getting it wrong can mean messages falling on deaf ears or potentially even worse turning people off to the important issues involved. More and more, whether we like it or not social media is having a significant role to play on the way that we communicate and the way we interact. The power of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others to transmit messages is altering the very fabric of the way that we communicate and internalise information as a society.
A recent survey analysed 257,000 tweets from 16 Nov 15-4 Feb 16 that mentioned the keywords Sustainability or Susty. The survey identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter. At number 42 on the list of top 100 individual influencers is Jon Khoo (@MrJon Khoo), Co-Innovation partner at Interface Inc. I caught up with Jon and asked him to share some valuable insights into sustainability and the importance of social media for communicating sustainability messages
What's your take on sustainability?
For humanity to survive, we have to change our ways. Society as a whole needs to stop and realise the peril our planet is in, to take responsibility and take action to design solutions to better protect our world. We cannot continue to exploit its resources irresponsibly and in terms of creating and consuming products we cannot continue to just take, make and waste. Business has a key role to play here by taking responsibility for what it creates and adopting circular economy approaches, and it needs to look to collaborate with NGOs and government to make this happen.
In addition, the problems we face are interconnected and solutions require a systems-based approach, for example social and environmental sustainability together is incredibly relevant to our world right now, which lies behind our Net-Works community-based supply chain which tackles discarded fishing nets whilst seeking to empower local fishing communities.
Tell me a little bit about Interface
Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of modular flooring products with sustainability being part of our DNA. We were one of the first companies to publicly commit to sustainability, making our Mission Zero pledge in the mid-nineties. Our late Founder Ray C. Anderson asked the company to adopt a bold vision, that required new thinking and a new business model. Mission Zero represents our company's vision of becoming totally sustainable - to eliminate any negative impact our company has on the environment by 2020. From manufacturing to sales and design, it influences every aspect of our business and inspires our associates to continually push the boundaries in order to achieve this goal. We aim to do well, by doing good.
What advice would you give on being influential on twitter?
Be genuine, be collaborative and be visual. My Twitter posts are a representation of my passions, whether it's sustainability, marine plastics, inclusive business, or the (mis)fortunes of Queens Park Rangers FC; it's a true representation of me and I think that genuineness makes posts more engaging. You also have a great opportunity collaborate through Twitter, I've made some great contacts by supporting, engaging in and sharing other people's brilliant projects, talks and blogs. Finally, social media's strength is its ability to share rich content such as photos and video - it's a visual media and posts that utilize this will stand out more in ever busier feeds.
How important is social media in promoting sustainability?
It's crucial. As a society, we are more connected than ever and through social media there is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and companies to reach a wide and engaged audience and to connect with a host of inspiring thinkers, doers and changemakers. It really breaks down silos as you see NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, and governments engaging through their employees. You really can create a movement around a cause or join forces with some unusual suspects. Social media has made the sustainability world more accessible than it's ever been before, it's great to see connections become discussions, discussions developing into collaborations. For me, it's inspiring to see groups using social media to not only talk the talk, but also to walk the walk.