As you know, I thought Earth Hour was a bit of a dud this year, at least from a social media perspective. Certainly, the biggest names in IT wouldn’t disappoint, particularly now that every company is under a big green microscope. (Just ask Facebook.) Surely, they would come through on Earth Day, right?
Well, yes and no.
Microsoft Nails It
Microsoft as a company that cares? It sure seemed like it if you visited Microsoft.com on Earth Day. Although its homepage didn’t stray from the staid, buttoned-down look it wears all year round, the web team embraced the occasion in a way that signals that the software giant is preparing for a smart energy future and it wants consumers to come along for the ride.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the company’s home energy monitoring platform, Hohm, was front and center. A pleasant surprise awaited visitors that clicked through to Hohm’s homepage (or haven’t visited the Hohm website in a while). In plain English and accompanied by a handy graph, visitors were greeted by a message outlining how much they can save in energy costs based on where they live (location info is gleaned from their IP addresses). In my case, the prospect of saving more than $400 was motivation enough to want to learn more.
Google Paints Another Pretty Picture, But Not Much Else
On special days, you can count on a neat, stylized version of Google’s logo. Clicking on said logo takes you to a related search, in this case Earth Day. It’s a good way to draw attention to the environmental movement, but again, it’s pretty much par for the course. To learn more about Google’s efforts to drive energy efficiency and promote environmental awareness, you had to know enough to seek out its official blog.
Overall, this Earth Day was a missed opportunity for Google. No front-page exposure for PowerMeter or the Google Finance carbon disclosure rating feature, not even a mention of its bike route mapping features. I know, Google likes to keep a minimalist front page, but it’s added a link on the front page to call attention to an important development in the past, so there’s no excuse for not spotlighting its contributions to a greener technology landscape this Earth Day.
Apple’s a No Show
Really, Apple?! Yes, we know the iPad is here, but guess what? So is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Though I can’t fault Apple for wanting to cash in on iPad’s popularity, ignoring Earth Day completely seems wrong for a company that makes some of the greenest gadgets around. I also wouldn’t dare suggest that Apple drape its pixel-perfect website in green, but it certainly could have at least devoted one of the “below the fold” panels to its progress on environmental issues and green electronics.
I singled out Apple, but it wasn’t the only tech giant to give Earth Day the cold shoulder. Dell’s homepage was similarly underwhelming and the greenest thing on HP’s site was Shrek, a result of a marketing partnership with Dreamworks. It’s unfortunate that on the one day the world’s attention is laser focused on the environment, some of the biggest names in technology still aren’t making the best use their websites to spotlight their efforts to “green” IT and stake a claim as green technology trailblazers.
Next year, let’s hope they take a lesson from Microsoft. The fact that I’m completing my Hohm Energy Profile (as soon as I’m done writing this) is a testament to how the right message delivered at the right time can hook consumers and promote engagement. And mind you, I’m pretty jaded when it comes to online outreach and marketing schemes, so that’s saying something.