Digital campaign of the week: WWF's Endangered Emoji campaign on Twitter

The conservation charity asks people to retweet an image of 17 endangered species, represented by characters in the emoji alphabet

WWF's emoji campaign
WWF's emoji campaign

What is it?

The conservation charity WWF has launched an emoji-based fundraising campaign to help support the organisation’s work to protect precious species and their habitats.

Emoji are small digital images or icons that are used to express ideas or emotions in electronic communication. They can be used on various social platforms and were integrated into Twitter in April 2014. The campaign was sparked by the discovery that 17 characters in the emoji alphabet – including monkeys, dolphins and pandas – represent endangered species such as the spider monkey, Maui’s dolphin and the giant panda. The charity is seeking to translate the popularity of these characters into funds and hopes to raise £80,000.

How does the campaign work?

The campaign is being run on Twitter through the charity’s @WWF account and also at the Endagered Emoji site, where pictures of the relevant emoji are linked with photos of the actual creature and a short description of how they are threatened. WWF tweeted an image showing all of the 17 endangered emoji and urged users to sign up to and take part in the campaign. Twitter users are asked to retweet the image to sign up – then, for every endangered emoji the user tweets, WWF will add 10p to a voluntary monthly donation. At the end of each month, users will receive a summary of their endangered emoji use and can then choose how much to donate.   

Why now?

The campaign was launched on 12 May, just before Endangered Species Day today.

What has been the impact so far?

In just three days since the launch, more than 16,000 people have signed up to the campaign.

What the charity says

Rachel Bloodworth, head of engagement at WWF-UK, says: "Innovation is at the heart of WWF’s work – we want to find new and exciting ways of engaging with people. By using one of the world’s biggest social platforms to highlight the need to protect endangered species, we’re hoping to raise vital funds for their conservation as well as raise awareness globally."

Third Sector verdict

Using Twitter should enable the charity to get its message to a younger online audience, but the question is the extent to which it will translate into hard cash. A lot of the campaign’s success will depend on whether the young people who are liberally using endangered animal pictographs in their tweets then pay up at the end of the month.

All in all, however, it’s an inventive way to try to capitalise on the emoji craze.

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