The Youth Behind the Virginia Social Media Accounts
By: Jessica Feng
Snap, caption, and upload. Here’s how Gen Z, the social media generation, is contributing to climate advocacy.
With 3.8 billion users as of January 2020, social media has become a significant source of information worldwide, especially for the younger generation. When I first started working with CCL, I was shocked to find that there was no Instagram account. After the first chapter meeting, I realized the root of the issue – the demographic was generally older, and didn’t understand how to use newer platforms like Instagram.
Starting the Accounts
In December 2018, Stephanie Burns, a state co-coordinator for Virginia, realized the same need for wider outreach and created the CCl Virginia Twitter account. “I started a Twitter account for CCL Virginia just because it’s difficult for individual chapters to each have their own social media accounts. You could showcase the work of chapters around the state and we don’t need to duplicate effort or expect every chapter to have their own account – it’s a lot of work to maintain a social media account,” Burns said. In order to increase participation from CCL volunteers, she had a workshop on using Twitter at the 2019 statewide conference.
Almost a year and a half later, in July 2020, the CCL Virginia Instagram account was started by Yasmine Marrero, a sophomore in high school. “Stephanie and I both realized that we needed to have more of an online presence, because we were mostly getting the word out about CCL through individual people. Although it’s a nice way to have people join, it’s not really the most productive way to get the word out,” Marrero said. Like Burns, Marrero also held a training of her own focusing on using Instagram.
Obstacles and Successes
Even with the trainings, it’s been hard to get people to start using social media. “Teaching our volunteers how to use social media and encouraging them to use it. It’s a totally different habit and it’s a tough habit to form if you’re not used to doing it. And it has to be fun. If it’s not fun and feels like a chore, people are not going to want to do it,” Burns said.
More specific to Instagram, creating graphics for the posts is a major obstacle. As a student, it’s been a struggle to consistently set time aside to think of and create a post idea. “We have school, work, and a lot of stuff that comes before volunteer work. It[creating posts] is a bit difficult because it takes a lot of time,” Marrero said.
The method that works for me is setting a weekly time to find graphic inspiration, look through CCL emails to find post ideas, and making the post in one sitting. Student schedules are hard to work with because of the rigidity of school, but setting apart a specific time can make it so content creation becomes part of your schedule.
Another key component of social media management is leadership. As Burns said, “I think that leadership is critical because you need somebody who has a vision of where we should be heading with our messaging, teaching people how to use these technologies, and keeping people energized and engaged.”
One way to overcome obstacles is by setting qualitative goals. “We really want to make sure that we’re interacting with people so that we can inform them about climate change, different people’s policies, and the bill itself,” Marrero said. In addition, building up the volunteer base and having individual accounts help build a CCL community on the platforms is a more far-off goal.
In one case, we responded to Representative Riggleman’s tweet about the importance of bipartisanship saying we looked forward to bipartisan solutions to climate change. This led to an invitation for a face-to-face meeting. The Twitter and Instagram team shout out any accomplishments our members achieve and advertise upcoming meetings. As the team continues to grow, we’ll have more content and faster responses.
In this changing social climate, social media is going to continue playing a critical role in spreading the word about CCL. Although it may be hard to grow a social media account, it has the potential for reaching a much wider audience. If you’re at all interested in social media, I urge you to join your local team or start one for your chapter/state.
Jessica Feng is a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and a volunteer with the Fairfax, VA chapter of CCL. She has been working with the CCL Virginia Instagram team since July 2020 and is passionate about environmental science.
This post was written by CCL’s Youth Blog Writing Team. If you are a young person interested in contributing to the blog, fill out the form linked here. If you have ideas for future posts email Karishma Goswami at .