Youth #ClimateThunderclap takes Twitter by storm
By Karishma Goswami
On August 12, youth climate activists took Twitter by storm, organizing and pulling off a #ClimateThunderclap in hopes of grabbing the attention of Congress. This effort was organized by my chapter’s youth team, the Silicon Valley North Youth Action Team, and was a huge success, reaching an estimated 60,590 people viewing our hashtag and message in less than 12 hours!
A “thunderclap” is when many people post the same message, at the same time, with the same hashtags. On August 12, our message was:
“Climate legislation is essential to reversing the existential crisis that threatens today’s youth. @MyRep, please act on this important issue! What will you do to protect my generation? #ClimateThunderclap #InternationalYouthDay”
In each tweet, we tagged our own representatives, notifying them whenever one of their constituents tweeted this message.
Encouragement from Rep. Eshoo
The idea for this social media push was introduced to us in early April by one of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s staffers as a way for youth to communicate with Congress.
A few months later, on June 15, a group of lobbyists from Silicon Valley North conducted a virtual lobby meeting with Congresswoman Eshoo. This was not a typical lobby meeting; of the attendees, 50 percent of us were young people. When it was our turn to contribute to the meeting, we were thrilled to announce to Congresswoman Eshoo—a big proponent of youth involvement in political action for climate—that we were launching this project. She was elated and even asked us how she could participate.
These meetings were the starting point for the Silicon Valley Youth Action team to begin thinking about the details: the unique hashtag and message, the date, and how to spread the word. Both our message and hashtag were short and easy to remember. We identified August 12 as our date, as it was the UN’s International Youth Day. This emphasized the youth focus of our efforts, and it allowed us to use their hashtag to further popularize our movement.
Spreading the word
We then began to use social media to broaden our reach. We created eye-catching graphics to promote the thunderclap on our personal and chapter Instagram and Twitter pages. We also reached out to other climate accounts and organizations, as well as social media influencers, seeking their help in spreading the word. A retweet from Greta Thunberg’s organization, Fridays for the Future, had us all buzzing with excitement.
We also received a few boosts from within CCL: Executive Director Mark Reynolds promoted the movement on a national call, and it was mentioned in CCL’s weekly newsletter.
Although we were hopeful and thankful for the support we had gained, we didn’t really know what to expect. As Lori Meyers, our group leader here in Silicon Valley North, said, “If we get 50 people who normally don’t reach out to Congress, to take those first steps as a result of this movement, then we made a difference!”
Success on social media
We were astonished to see that our hashtag had a reach of approximately 60,590 people—many times more than what we had anticipated—according to a media monitoring tool we used. and even had groups like 350 Dallas, The Media Fund, and Congresswoman Eshoo participate:
Advocacy doesn’t have age requirements. Bravo to all the young people working to make a difference by calling on Congress to act on climate change. I’m proud to cosponsor H.R. 763 to protect our planet for future generations. #ClimateThunderclap #InternationalYouthDay
— Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (@RepAnnaEshoo) August 12, 2020
Social media is giving youth in climate advocacy a voice that many of us felt was rarely heard because we lacked the power to vote. It is granting us a political agency that enables us to communicate with our political leaders, as we did on August 12. For a long time, young people have struggled to find their niche within the realm of climate advocacy. If that is a sentiment that resonates with you, or young members of your local chapters, I encourage you to incorporate social media into your advocacy, and I hope that you will find it as empowering and liberating as I did.
For more ideas on using social media to advance your CCL work, check out our trainings on Social Media for Lobbying.
Karishma Goswami is a junior in high school, a part of the Silicon Valley North Youth Action team, and an avid youth climate advocate.