Can TikTok Save the World? These Eco-influencers Think So

EcoTok Collective members Doria Brown and Arielle King share tips for leveraging social media for professional success and social impact

We tend to associate social media usage with leisure — a fun diversion that lets you keep up with friends, celebrities, and trends. But with some planning, thoughtfulness, and commitment, even social media platforms can play a powerful role in building the networks and personal brand that could help you score your dream job.

At a recent workshop hosted by the Dartmouth Energy Justice Clinic at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, energy and sustainability professionals and influencers Doria Brown (@earthstewardess on TikTok, @theearthstewardess on Instagram) and Arielle King (@ariellevking) shared their expertise on leveraging social media for social impact and professional development. 

During the "Can TikTok Save the Planet? A Communication, Ethical Storytelling and Building Your Social Media Brand Workshop," Brown and King explored how social media can help you access the communities and professional networks that can lead to meaningful, high-impact, and often creative work. A few highlights from the talk may be helpful to you as you navigate integrating social media in your career journey. 

Be Intentional 

Both Brown and King stressed the importance of having clear goals. Whether you want to connect with people and organizations who share your interests, highlight your own skills and accomplishments, or both, make sure that your content reflects your values, says King. Treat social media as your "digital reputation." 

Focusing on topics and issues that you care about and have expertise in is a great way to build your social media brand as well as expose yourself to — and build community with — others working in this space. Brown urged the audience to be thoughtful about how they construct their social media presence. Statistically, we change jobs every few years now, she notes, "but your social media profile is forever!" 

Be Yourself! 

Authenticity is critical. "We're so often in group situations where we are forced to conform," said Brown. But your social media presence can help you stand out as a professional.  "Establishing a professional presence on social media allows individuals to showcase their skills, experiences, and accomplishments." 

Brown's social media presence helped her unlock a range of opportunities, including being invited to attend a climate summit that included a one-on-one meeting with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. "I was invited to attend because I was Nashua's Energy Manager," but they found me because I had a social media platform." 

Be Strategic

There are also some important guardrails to note if you hope to support your  professional success through social media. Brown stressed that you need to be sure you have reviewed and understand your employer's social media use policy and to maintain a clear distinction between personal and professional content.  And above all, you should be the one to make your employer aware of your social media account so that there are no surprises. "Never let your job find out about your social media from anyone but you," she urged.

Posting regularly isn't the only component to growing your online following; you don't have to have a huge following to reach your goals. In fact, said King, "Follower count isn't as important as you think: smaller accounts sometimes get more opportunities – it's all about the quality of content and how it aligns with organizations you might want to work with."

Make a Plan

If one of your goals is to grow your network consistently, then developing and sticking to a content calendar is essential. Brown described posting  at least once a day for three years straight to grow her audience to what it is now. Whatever you decide you can do, make a schedule and commit to it. Consistently high quality content and engagement can help you stand out in a crowded field.

Find Balance

While there is significant work in building a successful social media brand, both women talked about the perils of burnout and the need to unplug periodically. Brown stepped away from her platform for a time after the first three years to recharge. And King acknowledged that while content in the sustainability and social justice space can attract unpleasant and/or aggressive engagement, for your own mental health, focus on building a supportive, positive community. 

If you missed it, you can view the whole event online, with more tips about finding a professional network and other opportunities on social media.

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, the Institute for For Black Intellectual and Cultural Life, the Dartmouth Sustainability Office, Digital Justice Lab, Department of African and African American Studies, Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Geography.