Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Most of us occasionally visit the platforms while others have just scrolled through the new feed, a few minutes ago. Despite the duration of our visit on social media we are attracted by the influencers and their creative content. And this is how ethical influencers engage audiences about saving the planet. Let’s find out how?

How Ethical Influencers Engage Audiences About Saving the Planet

These can be their videos where they are discussing their skin-care or beauty products, the latest place they visited to eat, their latest shopping haul, or various packages they received from different brands.

Key takeaways

  • Social media ranks as the top most influential source for educating people about sustainability.
  • 75% (3 in 4) people like to take up planet-saving behaviors after watching similar social media content.
  • 83% (8 in 10) people consider Instagram and TikTok their go-to platforms for how to live sustainably.

The main purpose of such content is to influence consumers to buy them. After all, they are doing brand promotion. However, there is a different group of influencers who are using their online presence to advocate and change how people buy and consume.

A recent research by the University of Melbourne focuses on this sub-category of influencers to understand their way of working. They want to understand how they use social media to campaign for a sustainable, ethical, and healthy lifestyle.

A study by Unilever and Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) examines how brands harness and maximize the power of social media influencers. This in turn positively impacts consumers behavior.

The study was conducted alongside a cohort of eco-conscious influencers and behavioral scientists. To accurately understand the content and its impact, a simulated social platform was used. Behavioral changes of around 6,000 Canadian, UK, and US consumers were monitored and measured. As per the results, influencers have the single biggest impact on green choices of people.

Sustainability Influencers Engage Audiences About Saving the Planet
Pic Credits: Behavioural Insights Team


  • 83% of people prefer TikTok and Instagram for sustainability advice.
  • 86% (aged 13-24) are most intrigued by social media to make sustainable choices.
  • 48% of people considered TV documentaries.
  • 37% considered news articles.
  • 20% of people are affected by government campaigns.

Two Different Approaches

As per Dove and Hellmann the two most impactful behavioral changes to note in individuals is:

  1. Using less plastic
  2. Wasting less food

The tested content of the study was created to be either of the following:

  • Optimistic – It includes a practical demonstration of how to live sustainably. There is more emphasis on individual benefits and has a surprising, often humorous tone.
  • Pragmatic – It uses extensive data and statistics. It is characterized by a focus on problem behavior and broader consequences.


  • 75% of people said they most likely adopted sustainable behaviors because of the content.
  • 69% of pragmatic content audience try to use something new to reduce their plastic or food waste.
  • 61% of optimistic content was effective in influencing people.

Mostly changes noticed after engaging the audiences include:

  • Saving and reusing plastic
  • Freezing and reusing leftovers.
  • Buying refillable products.

As per the results, both content styles are effective to influence audience to adopt sustainable behaviors.

Branded content is more engaging, informative, and termed authentic. Participants show support for social media creators producing sponsored sustainable content. People find sponsored or branded content equally engaging, authentic, and informative as unbranded content.

  • 77% (8 out of 10) people support green influencers for their initiatives.
  • 72% of people are supportive as these influencers are selling sustainable products of services.
  • 76% (around 7 out of 10) were encouraged to act after watching Dove plastic reuse content.
  • 82% (8 out of 10) starts keeping a check on food waste reduction after watching Hellmann’s content.

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Who are Ethical Influencers?

Ethical Influencers Engage Audiences About Saving the Planet

Yes, researchers named them ethical influencers and we call them Greenfluencers because their content is dedicated towards educating people. They aim to teach how our consumption habits impact the environment on a daily basis.

  1. Vegan Influencers – They are a part of this group too. They ask their audiences to avoid animal-based products. Their aim is not just the food but clothing and entertainment too.
  2. Sustainability Influencers – They ask their audiences to reduce their consumption, mostly unnecessary type of consumption. They also ask people to buy less and reuse more. Sustainability influencers also encourage their audiences to minimize waste and recycle. Generally, they advocate new and better ways of living and consuming.

Challenges Faced by Sustainable Influencers in Engaging the Audiences

Despite having a clean motive, they face 2 unique challenges, making it harder for them to build their online presence.

1. Close-up Demonstration

These influencers have to provide a close-up of their everyday life to show the new lifestyle to people. This is different from other influencers as they have the choice of not sharing their personal life.

Ethical influencers try to be as personal and authentic as possible. They do so by sharing their daily life, struggles, and practices. Now, as online audiences evaluate and interact constantly with their content, it puts them at greater risk of scrutiny.

2. Varied Choice of Audiences

Yes, sustainability influencers are more affected by this challenge. Since they aim to reach out to a wide variety of audiences, it is possible that not all of them are interested in their content.

After all, they are promoting a certain type of lifestyle choices and habits which may not appeal to everyone. Which is why they have to connect with a wide range of people to convince them in changing their beliefs and behavior.

Which Type of Content is Effective to Promote Sustainability on Social Media?

Ethical Influencers Engage Audiences About Saving the Planet

According to a report, fear is not a way to change people’s habits. Positive non-threatening messages or posts regarding climate change can be more successful. It recommends combining both approaches for the most effective outcome.

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Solutions Used by Green Influencers to Save the Planet

To effectively connect with their audiences, they generally use 5 strategies:

  1. Acting
  2. Evangelizing
  3. Framing
  4. Humanizing
  5. Pivoting

These strategies are helpful in building online profiles and gathering audience.

1. Acting

It is to show a step-by-step expertise and commitment of these influencers in terms of new consumption practices.

Lauren Singer, an environmental influencer who posts regularly on her expertise on ways of reducing waste. Singer is mostly known for fitting her 2-years of waste in a single 16-ounce Mason jar. She presented this effectively to influence the audience in a creative and entertaining way. So, logically acting helps ethical influencers to establish legitimacy with their audience.

2. Evangelizing

This instils a sense of community among people. It is not easy to change our decades old habits, lifestyles, and behaviors. Doing this alone can be daunting and exhausting at times. Which is why, through evangelizing ethical influencers are fostering a sense of belonging among members. This prevents them from falling back into their old habits. All these strategies in combination help ethical influencers in achieving their ultimate sustainability goals.

3. Framing

This strategy spotlights our unwanted consumption practices and influencers talk about the dangers posed by them. For example, the bad effects of using detergents packed in plastic containers as they increase plastic pollution and landfill waste. Framing actually describes the desired versus undesired practices that can be followed in daily lives.

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4. Humanizing

Sharing personal stories and experiences, not directly linked to green consumption, is done through humanizing. Influencers may talk about their latest work gathering or a new addition to their family. They can also mention the new hiking trail they did with their pet.

Thus, this strategy aims in fostering some sort of para-social relationship with the audience. This presents influencers as humans and not mere agents of some brands or organizations.

5. Pivoting

It involves linking audiences with ethical business, so they can easily navigate the market with multiple sustainable choices. It is not solely about brand advertising or monetary collaboration. Sustainability influencers mainly share reviews about ethical product performance and quality.

Thus, ethical influencers engage audiences about saving the planet by finding substitutes to their daily products. This further encourages them to live in line with the new and sustainable lifestyle.

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Even though ethical influencers are not new, but recently they are becoming more popular and prominent. Their constant efforts make them a valuable resource in promoting sustainability and ethical consumption along with tackling climate change.

Source: How ‘ethical influencers’ engage their audiences


Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

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