The Power of the #SocialMedia… part 2

Jun 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Youth Blog

Hello all, and welcome to part 2 of our media adventure… I just got back a few days ago from the Truman Scholars Leadership Week in Liberty, MO — which was fantastic!! — and got to work with some other amazing scholars on a “proposal” for how we might use an (imaginary) $10,000 grant to create a social media campaign aiming to save… the slow loris.

Correct response: What is a slow loris? If you haven’t seen it already, go to YouTube and look for a video. Lorises are basal (i.e. early – far away from great apes, lower on the tree) primates with big eyes, semi-opposable thumbs and a dangerous level of cuteness. There’s a huge appeal as pets – who wouldn’t want a cute fuzzy loris? – but there’s some things most people don’t know (SERIOUSNESS ALERT). First of all, lorises have a toxic bite (ow…) so some of their teeth are removed as part of the pet trade – and this often leads to infection, which can become very serious or even fatal. Loris trade in Southeast Asia is also related to human trafficking, meaning there are serious social implications.

If your head isn’t spinning from all of the information I just dumped here, I envy you. So here’s the challenge: how do you convey this information in a way which is useful and lasting?

Answer: social media. Remember, we’re all together for a conference being put on by the Harry S Truman Foundation, so we created a “persona” as an advocate for these species (rather than paying $$$ to get a human sponsor)… and with that, I’d like to introduce Harry S. Loris.

According to his FaceBook page (which I was the primary author of), he graduated from Harry S Truman Highschool and Harry S Truman College (majoring in lemur studies, lorisology, and tarsier science), and is Chief Loris Officer at the Truman Foundation. We also created a campaign page on facebook (apparently run by this quirky loris), SlowLorisLiberty. And that’s just Facebook. On Twitter, HarrySLoris follows the Jane Goodall Institute, the Duke Lemur Center, the ASPCA, the FREELAND Foundation, and of course the BronxZooCobra. His tweets have helped educate his followers on various aspects of loris biology, among them:

A shoutout to @FREELANDpeople for fighting the trade in the slow loris. You can now say you’re Loris Approved!
Gotta go to the dentist later… argh. At least I have teeth; some of my captive cousins weren’t quite so lucky. Being venomous stinks.
@jakewellman Can you grab me a snack while you’re in the coffee shop? Don’t worry, I’m omnivorous…. I eat just about anything. #nomnomnom
People need to stop calling me a Lorax – driving me nuts. He lives in the Truffula Trees…. I’m from Southeast Asia. #MistakenIdentity
See how this works? The tidbits of info that were snuck in fit relatively well into the broader context of the sillyness involved in the tweets. It also gave us a chance to talk about the original YouTube videos, and celebrate Endangered Species Day. And while the Loris sent out his last post on both sites…. while, all I’ll say is he may not be quite done.
By the end of the week, we had about 60 followers! Most of them were scholars or biologist friends. So the point about social media for good is this:
  1. Keep it funny.
  2. Keep it informative.
  3. Know your audience.

For myself and the Loris, happy belated Endangered Species Day!

One Comment to “The Power of the #SocialMedia… part 2”

  1. Hailey says:

    Some were in the rain forest

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