BCM 206

Digital Artefact – iwaste_ewaste

For my Digital Artefact (DA) for Future Networks, I created an Instagram account entitled iwaste_ewaste. This account is designed to raise awareness about environmental pollution and social injustice caused by the production of electronic devices, particularly the impact of e-waste, with a focus on Apple devices.

iwaste_ewaste employs iteration – the process of repetition regarding the production of the posts’ style and message. The posts are uploaded during evening prime time, employ single or multiple images and various persuasive appeals, aimed at Australian Generation Z, (born 1996 to 2012). The posts build upon each other in terms of the overall message being conveyed, with response to feedback, in order to address the social utility implicit in the account’s aim. That is, to convince the audience of the usefulness derived from following my account and adhering to my message regarding sustainable e-device purchases and the responsible recycling of e-devices. 

I uploaded 28 posts from 8 September to 29 October. I posted behind my original schedule as iwaste_ewaste was not my pitch subject. As the success of the DA can benefit from early ideation, in late July, during NSW’s second lockdown I devised my first DA; an Instagram account called, ‘Cook on the Bright Side’. This was in response to my living in one room in uni accommodation, feeling despondent, buying takeaways and gaining weight.

My nutrition research revealed HealthStats NSW findings that in 2019, 59% of adult males and 53% of adult females were overweight. (HealthStats NSW, 2019) Thus, my aim in creating a cooking account or channel would be to promote easy, nutritious meals for healthy eating and provide interest to beat the boredom and depression of isolation.

According to product marketer Alfred Lua’s blog, ‘Optimal Timing, Videos, and More: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Instagram Reach’, “while photos, … get more ‘likes’, (and overall engagement), … videos generate more than twice … the ‘comments’. (Lua, n.d.) I decided to make cooking videos. However, I learned that I didn’t adequately plan the time or human factor in designing and implementing this audio-visual production method.

It took me two days to create the first ‘draft’. This included shopping, preparing, cooking filming, editing and adding audio. Unless I used the communal kitchen, (shared by 15 others), between 1am-5am, it was impossible to film undisturbed. I abandoned the project.

I then decided to make the iwaste_ewaste Instagram account, as sustainability is my passion and there aren’t many e-waste subject creators using this platform. According to blogger Edina Zejnilovic’s 2018 blog, ‘3 Factors that Make Instagram the Best Social Media Platform’, “Instagram has better content display, allows you to build your brand image through pictures and videos far more effectively than Facebook or Twitter or any other social media website.” (Zejnilovic, 2018)

I consulted other social media sustainability creators like ‘Geenpeace’ and ‘Apple Sucks’. To maximise my posts’ persuasiveness, I researched how to market to Australia’s Gen Z. 

Social media is important to us digital natives, who value our peers’ opinions. I tried to create an empathic social presence that Gen-Zers could engage with. I needed to humanise my posts’ content and deliver a direct message with visual impact, in their language, to convince my audience of the messages’ social utility/usefulness.

There was no time for developing and testing the reception of an account prototype. I jumped straight into the iteration process, frequently uploading posts, repeating my message to build the desired outcome – the swift attraction and growth of a following amongst my social demographic. Posting often enabled me to communicate many persuasive appeals before Apple’s 2021 product release on 15 September. Thus, I could influence my audience into making informed, sustainable tech purchases. 

These factors were incorporated into my posting plan. I reiterated persuasive emotional appeals via different, confronting human images which criticised the tech industry. I posted pictures of impoverished African child miners, (Post 17), and destitute foragers in e-waste dumps, (Post 1). I adhered to the maxim, ‘a good picture is worth a thousand words’. This suits the visual learning aspect of Gen-Zers. I also used visual intellectual appeals, like pictures of Rodin’s, ‘The Thinker,’ contemplating if he needed a new iPhone, (Post 4), and Apple being wealthier than the US Treasury Reserve, (Post 5). 

I repeated both appeals in the accompanying attention-getting headlines and captions and kept the content penetrating yet concise. I reiterated the practice of including brief written text and ending with a thought-provoking question(s). With this rationale I appealed to Gen-Zers’ social utility – their desire to share and benefit by making the world a better place – while wanting to make their own decisions. 

My posting plan needed to respond to audience reaction so I, (unfortunately, belatedly), employed the four steps in the OODA Feedback Loop, i.e observing, orienting, deciding and acting – regarding feedback. (Lewis, 2019) I made an error by not ‘observing’ the audience feedback to my account earlier. It wasn’t until 13 October that I created an Excel Sheet to collate and analyse the qualitative and quantitative results. 

When I began my posts on 8 September, a week before Apple’s 2021 product release, I had 26 ‘likes’, (but no ‘comments’), and over the ensuing week the ‘likes’ ranged from 18 to 22. Even though my small following was slightly declining, my qualitative analysis, (observation), told me my approach, (orientation), was working. So, I ‘decided’ to persist with the style I thought was successful and ‘act’ by continuing to upload these. However, a later more quantitative analysis showed that a meme post, (Post 13), a departure in stye uploaded on 18 September to test audience reaction, had brought me my first two (positive) comments. I did not react to the decrease in my message’s penetration soon enough. I reverted to uploads in the previous style, while the number of ‘likes’ was declining.

When I began posting again on 23 October after a two-week break, I ‘observed’ the daily results and noted the success of the meme ‘orientation’. I ‘decided’ to continue to upload in this style and ‘acted’ accordingly. My following is still small, but all 5 subsequent meme posts, (Posts 22 to 27), have drawn a total of 30 positive comments. This is evidence that my audience is now responding to my sustainability message.

Overall, as shown, I adhered to the theoretical concepts in the lecture material and research in designing and evaluating iwaste_ewaste. In doing so, I learned from my mistakes, responded to feedback and adapted the message content to create a successful Instagram account with a small but dedicated following which I hope to expand in the future.

References:

Alexsalcedo, 2016, ‘Marketing To Generation Z (It’s time to forget about Millennials)’, MNI, weblog post, 6 June, viewed 7 October 2021, https://www.mni.com/blog/author/alexsalcedo.

Apple sucks on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/applesucks/.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenpeaceap/?hl=en.

HealthStats NSW, 2019, ‘Overweight or Obesity in Adults’, NSW Government, viewed 28 October 2021, http://www.healthstats.nsw.gov.au/indicator/beh_bmi_age.

Lewis, S 2019, ‘OODA loop’ TechTarget, June, viewed 27 October 2021, https://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/OODA-loop.

Lopez, B 2021, ‘2021 Social Media Trends: Meme Marketing’, Greenfox, weblog, viewed 13 October 2021, <https://greenfox.io/2021-social-media-trends-meme-marketing/&gt;.

Lua, A n.d., ‘Optimal Timing, Videos, and More: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Instagram Reach’, Buffer, viewed 27 October 2021, <https://buffer.com/library/increase-instagram-reach/&gt;.

McCrindle 2016, Generation Z defined; the five characteristics of today’s student, online video, 19 April, McCrindle, viewed 6 October 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvCwcQmnyfE.

Moreau, E 2021, ‘The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021’, Lifewire, weblog post, 19 January, viewed 6 October 2021, https://www.lifewire.com/best-time-of-day-to-instagram-3485858.

Zejnilovic, E 2018, ‘3 Factors That Make Instagram The Best Social Media Platform’, Irish Tech News, 21 January, viewed 27 October 2021, https://irishtechnews.ie/3-factors-that-make-instagram-the-best-social-media-platform/.

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