On the 23rd of September in New York, the United Nations General Assembly held the Climate Action Summit, the milestone of which was the speech of a young climate activist from Sweden — Greta Thunberg. After the passionate performance of Greta, social media exploded and gave a start to a new #howdareyou movement.
Before the Climate Action Summit, Greta had 4.5 million followers on Instagram. Now her followers’ count is about to reach 7 million. But more importantly, the speech lighted up the activity of environment campaigners on social media, mostly on Instagram and Twitter, and produced the new trend under the #howdareyou hashtag — the key question Greta asked the UN member states.
We in Combin Growth have taken the liberty of analyzing the consequences of Greta’s speech on social media, specifically on Instagram, and now we would love to share our key findings with you.
The new eco-flashmob is gaining momentum on Instagram. The number of #howdareyou hashtag use is increasing by approximately one thousand new mentions in fourteen hours — when we were preparing this text, the result was 72,000 hashtags.
After Greta’s address, a new relevant hashtag has emerged — #howdareyouchallenge. The latter counts only 274 mentions by far and has slightly anything to do with climate activism. The #howdareyouchallenge is more about memes that Instagrammers create to make fun. Typically, the memes consist of a setup and Greta’s angry face asking “How dare you?” as a punchline.
Instagram eco-warriors have united under the #howdareyou hashtag to discuss climate change issues and express their discontent on the situation. Interesting that the largest share of posts with these hashtags are made by young people or teenagers.
In posts with this hashtag, Instagrammers tell their stories and convey their gratitude to Greta for doing the job and galvanising others to do the same. “At your age I was worrying about Tamagotchi’s & which boys to kiss. I applaud you @gretathunberg. Here’s to young girls like you making a world of difference,” says Poppy Delavigne, an Instagram influencer.
Children vs Climate Crisis
Clearly, the main hero of the Climate Action Summit was Greta Thunberg, but there are other teenagers like her who have a strong point on climate change issues. So the hashtag #ChildrenVsClimateCrisis is another milestone of the fight. Other young climate activists want to be heard and deliver their stories as well, so the eponymous website was developed.
As the main page of the website says, “Sixteen children from across the world are petitioning the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five of the world’s leading economic powers accountable for inaction on the climate crisis.”
The hashtag mostly refers to these sixteen teenagers from different parts of the world — Alexandria, Carl, Catarina, Chiara, Greta, Ellen-Anne, Iris, Raina, Raslen, Deborah, Ayakha, Ridhima, Carlos, Litokne, David, Ranton — who take courage to file a complaint and care of their and next generations’ future.
Speaking of the hashtag #ChildrenVsClimateCrisis, its count on Instagram is 74 at the moment of writing the text, but it will surely grow further.
The mentions of this hashtag have remarkably grown after Greta’s speech as well. If before the address the hashtag was mentioned about three to five times a day, the results after the speech are so different — more than 480 mentions found searching for #Climatestrike on September 26th. The whole number of the tag results counts more than 394,000.
This hashtag always appears along with #fridaysforfuture. The latter implies that on Fridays, environmental activists all over the world strike demanding climate justice, air pollution elimination, carbon emissions reduction and saving the planet. “We don’t have a planet B,” claim the strikers. The strikers have their own Instagram account with the current agenda, upcoming strikes schedule and climate chants pinned in Highlights.
This hashtag was widely used by young climate activists long before Greta’s address to the UN member states, but the majority of recent posts refer to her. No wonder that the results count elevated after the Swedish activist’s speech. The total amount of results count 80.4 thousand hashtags, and on the 26th of September alone, more than a thousand posts with the hashtag were uploaded. Last week before the speech, the hashtag was used less than ten times a day.
The hashtagged name of Greta herself is mentioned on Instagram about 203,000 times which is not surprising since the young lady has been actively participating in various climate panels before the Climate Action Summit held by the United Nations.
After her address, Instagram mentions of the girl grew drastically, and not only by her fellow environmental activists. Haters did not miss the chance to hype on the trend, and now they’re busy creating memes, collages, arts and videos to make fun of Greta Thunberg.
For the last two days (26th and 27th of September) Greta’s name were mentioned in hashtags more than a thousand times, and it will highly likely keep on like this. The girl’s being tagged on Instagram for about five times a minute, according to her own Instagram page Tagged tab.
The Bottom Line
Before starting this study, we asked ourselves what exactly we want to find out. In fact, with Combin Growth analysis, we intended to track the changes and reaction on social media, mainly, on Instagram, and make sure that Greta Thunberg has actually changed anything or anyhow helped. Now we clearly see, she has.
Mentions of the upcoming climate change and posts about climate strikes have increased after Greta’s address. Surely, all these have not been without memes and jokes, but that’s a good thing since even those who have never heard or thought about environmental issues are currently influenced. It means that Greta Thunberg has managed to grab attention not only of high-profile executives, but of those regular Instagram users who never care about such trifles as the climate change or planet-saving campaigns. A true influencer, indeed.