I asked our word-of-mouth-marketing guru, Ryan La Rosa, to offer up a blog about our new social media outreach with the Water – Use It Wisely conservation campaign and the power of social media with green causes.

Water – Use It Wisely is a campaign we created in 1999 to help spread the word about water conservation through our arid Arizona backyard.  Since then, the environmental campaign has grown to more than 400 private and public partners using it throughout the world. We’ve seen some great results, some efforts that missed the mark, and everything in-between.

Last year, after nine years in the game, we realized that Water – Use It Wisely needed a refresh.  We took all of the necessary steps.  We examined our brand position, updated the creative materials, and redesigned the website.  But it wasn’t enough.  It was time to introduce water conservation to the social media world.

On the surface it seems like a tough sell.  How do we spark conversations about water conservation?  It’s not exactly the sexiest subject in the world.  So that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do – make water conservation sexy.

Social media is simple.  It’s about giving people a reason to talk about you in the right places.  Effective social media efforts are those that empower people, especially with green messaging. They provide a gathering place, a relevant piece if information and then the freedom to let someone take your message and do with it as they please.

So with these guidelines in place we were ready to give social media life to Water – Use It Wisely.

Our first step was a blog.

It might not seem very social, but the blog is the pyramid of coals on which the lit match falls.  It provides the foundation for all of our conversations.  But the blog isn’t simply a one-way conversation.  We use it as a tool to recognize friends, call out foes, and spark as many conversations as we can along the way. Check out our 12-days of Christmas water-saving device recommendations.  You will be surprised at what you find.

Next up we needed a place for our followers to gather.  The website is great, but that’s ours and everyone knows that’s ours.  We needed something that people could call their own.  Hence the WUIW Facebook page – the central gathering point for all our social media efforts.  From here we can start discussions, post media and do anything else we want, but most importantly, here is where we let go.  We give in to the mercy of our followers and ask that they take the conversation from here.  Conservation is only as successful as the number and vigor of its participants (something dually true for any social media effort).

Then it was time to fill in the blanks.  A place to send out short bursts of information – Twitter.  A way to put a face to the effort – Flickr.  New ways to spread the message – YouTube.   Putting the infrastructure in place was easy, cost effective, and a great investment in the people we care about most – those environmentally conscious, and unconscious, we haven’t yet started a dialogue with.

The Water – Use It Wisely social media effort in green marketing is an experiment that we hope everyone reading this will engage in alongside us.  Tell us what you like, what you don’t and your own ideas too.  That’s what this whole thing is all about.  Coming together to learn and share.  And it just so happens this confusing and ever evolving world of social media is leading the way.