Planting seeds of sustainability on Facebook

How does your garden grow? Users of GreeNet -- the Facebook app developed by two Canadian students -- constantly ask themselves and their friends that question. In this "virtual garden" a green thumb is not essential, but green behaviour counts for a lot.

"If something is presented to you in a graphical manner, it's easier to grasp its impact."

Muise and Fan believe social networking sites that engage users and encourage them to connect with other people are creative and effective channels of disseminating information and ideas.

"If you want to instigate change, you need to talk to the youth. They are the people who one day will be the decision makers," Muise said.

"And if you want to catch young people's attention, you need to speak to them where they are -- at that's in sites such as Facebook."

Facebook's appeal to youth and its potential for viral marketing, give it a big advantage over other media, according to an online marketing specialist.

"Facebook is like an Internet within the Internet. Its opportunities are limitless," said Colin Smillie, a managing partner at RefreshPartners, a boutique marketing company specializing in the use of social media.

Smillie believes larger organizations, such as banks and automakers, should develop a greater Facebook presence to gain access to the site's demographic groups.

"Imagine a young consumer inviting 50 or more of his friends to download an application that's ties in with your product and those 50 kids inviting their own friends to do the same!"

Links to vendors of environmentally friendly products and services will also open up various marketing possibilities.

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Nestor E. Arellano
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