The Appalachian Resistance Project aims to create and spread awareness across the US of the environmental destruction caused by Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining (MTR) in Appalachia. MTR is a particularly destructive method of coal mining that began practice in the 1960s. The process of extraction begins with all trees and vegetation atop the mountain being clear cut and burned. Entire ecosystems are immediately wiped out and all residing wildlife is forced to relocate. With a newly bald mountaintop, heavy explosives are then trucked in by the tons. In order for the coal seams to be easily accessed, more than 400 feet in elevation is blasted off of the top of the mountain. As of today, over 500 mountains have been destroyed and over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried (Hendryx, 2020). In an Instagram survey conducted by Keely Lawrence, only 1 in 4 people reported awareness about the issue of MTR, some of those people living in Appalachia themselves. The long-term goal of The Appalachian Resistance Project is to pass legislature than will put a stop to MTR. For this to be successful, we must first start with a smaller goal: creating awareness of the issue at hand.
The target audience of this campaign will be US young adults (between the ages of 15 and 30). We have chosen this audience because they are most easily accessed by social media and have displayed the strong ability to advocate for change in recent movements. All considerations in the following have been made to appeal to this audience.
The Appalachian Resistance Project will be utilizing Instagram as its primary platform in order to effectively capture the attention of our intended audience. Instagram provides a fast and effective way of spreading information nationwide and has recently proven effective at popularizing critical movements. With the primary goal of spreading awareness of the destruction caused by MTR in Appalachia, Instagram will provide us with the necessary platform to target our audience of US young adults. Our mission will be effectively executed with Instagram by using three devices: ads, posts, and merchandise.
The account name will be appalachianresistance and the page will display the name “The Appalachian Resistance Project”. The Biography section will include a few short, to-the-point statements and couple of emojis will be incorporated here to catch the eye of the young adults we are appealing to. The link to our merchandise site will be positioned directly below.
Two different ads will direct Instagram users to the Project page. One of these two ads will target the Newsfeed of an individual Instagram user depending on their likely interests, which are determined through programmed algorithms.
The first ad will be a dramatically photographed image of an Appalachian forest. The background will filled be dense, green, trees, low-lying ferns, vibrant wildflowers, mushrooms, and mosses sparkling with dew. The foreground of the image will be a beautiful fox or skunk sitting on the forest floor and staring towards the camera. The scenery in the image will be perceived as lush, mystical, and thriving with life. Upon the image there will be emotionally worded statistics, such as “Over 1.6 million acres of forests destroyed. That’s 1.6 million homes.” Below the statistics on the image will be the hashtags #protectappalachia and #StopMTR, which will be incorporated in every ad and post description. The ad Caption will say “Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining is destroying Appalachia. Don’t let it go unnoticed. The mountains need us. Follow The Appalachian Resistance Project for more info.” Clicking the ad will take the user directly to the Account Page.
The second will be a merchandise advertisement. This will be a three-image ad, all images a simple background with a piece of our merchandise centered in each photo. The ad Caption will be the same as the prior ad. Clicking the ad will take the user directly to the merchandise website.
The posts on this account will all contain images of wildlife, mountainscapes, forests, or destructed areas in Appalachia and will be fronted with a statistic, quote, or statement pertaining to MTR or environmental protection. Each post will be presented in a way intended to capture popular aesthetics of the target audience to encourage Sharing of each post.
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Merchandise will be sold on a separate online platform linked to the Instagram Account. Merchandise will include tee shirts, hats, canvas totes, face masks, and stickers. All designs will feature the words “Protect Appalachia” or “Stop MTR”. Tee shirts and totes will also feature images, our hashtags, statistics, and “The Appalachian Resistance Project”. All profits would be donated directly to funds rehabilitating the effected ecosystems.
The Appalachian Resistance Project will be an ongoing Instagram account with evolving goals and milestones. The first phase of this campaign, with the target goal of creating and spreading awareness, will last 4 months in total. The first month of this campaign will be the production phase: creating a backstock of Instagram posts, designing the two ads, creating merchandise inventory. Once everything is ready to go, the Instagram page, merchandise website, and Instagram ads will launch. The ads will run for three months.
In order to measure our success in this campaign, an online survey will be launched at the beginning of the first month asking (1) awareness of MTR, (2) Instagram use, (3) age, and (4) US state/country of residents. The same survey will be launched again at the end of the four-month period and results will be compared.
The long-term goal of The Appalachian Resistance Project is successfully pass legislature that will stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Appalachia. As with any successful grassroots movement, the first step is to create awareness of an issue, and that is our primary goal of this phase in the campaign. The platform of Instagram is a prime vehicle for spreading awareness and educating within our targeted audience of US young adults. The ads will capture the attention of Instagram users and direct them to the Account Page. The artfully curated posts will appeal to the audience and encourage Sharing to individual Stories and Newsfeeds. The merchandise will do its own work in spreading awareness by gaining exposure to audiences outside of social media and will simultaneously be raising money for restoration in Appalachia. With these three components of our social medial campaign, measurable success is guaranteed.