15 Nov Front Page Execs: Executives Dominate #TeamTrees Donations
What is #TeamTrees?
Each dollar donated means one tree will be planted with the goal of planting 20 million trees by 2020. The donations go directly to Arbor Day Foundation, who will be responsible for facilitating the planting. The trees will begin being planted globally at the start of 2020, with the process starting in areas with a warmer climate.
Raising over $8 million within the first week, the donated amount has since grown to $15,387,233 at the time of writing. #TeamTrees first went viral among the YouTube creator community due to other popular YouTubers making large donations, such as $69,420 from PewDiePie, $33,333 from TheOdd1sOut, and $20,000 from Jacksepticeye.
However, when looking at the Top Donors list on Teamtrees.org, it is not YouTubers or other content creators that take the top spots, but rather company executives.
Executives on the Top Donors List
In this section, we will be looking at the executives on #TeamTree’s Top Donors list and evaluating their Twitter posts that refer to their involvement with the campaign. Since the purpose is to analyze how executives use social media, we will only be including individuals and skipping donations made by brands or companies as a whole. Looking at these tweets will shed more light on how executives are using social media to not only amplify their own position, but how it connects back to their company to make a positive impression.
1. Tobi Lütke: 1,000,001 trees donated on October 30
Coming in at #1 on #TeamTree’s Top Donors list is Shopify’s co-founder and CEO, Tobi Lütke. He posted a string of tweets to celebrate his platform reaching 1 million merchants when a user suggested Lütke donate 1 million trees to match that number.
Lütke agreed to the idea in his follow-up tweet:
This is a strong reply, showcasing both his own personality and an effective brand connection. In terms of branding, he makes a direct reference to Shopify reaching 1 million merchants, connecting that number to the number of trees he is donating. By donating 1,000,001 trees, he edges out the previous #1 ranked donor, Elon Musk, by a single tree. Lütke has tagged relevant people, including Musk himself and one of the campaign’s creators, though tagging @Shopify would have been an effective way to pull in the brand’s social as well. The tweet is also successful in showcasing Lütke’s personality. He uses a meme that is currently popular, “OK Boomer,” and also makes a self-deprecating joke about his previous venture.
Lütke has since continued to tweet about #TeamTrees, while also editing his Twitter profile information to include “Lorax,” a Dr. Seuss character, and tree emojis.
This donation aligns with Shopify’s commitment to take action against climate change as the company commits at least $5 million USD each year toward environmental investments. While Lütke did not link to or mention Shopify’s environmental initiatives, this could have been one way to inform the audience about issues important to the company.
2. Elon Musk: 1,000,000 trees donated on October 29
Although he lost the #1 crown to Lütke, Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Inc., can still be proud of the fact he has donated 1 million trees to #TeamTrees. What is interesting to note is that Musk takes initiative and asks about the campaign and, after learning about it, responds with a tweet that is straight to the point.
Of all the executives on the Top Donor list, Musk’s tweet has the most engagement overall, receiving over 370,000 likes and over 61,000 retweets. His subsequent related tweets have also received a lot of engagement as well, with Musk referring to and quoting Treebeard, a character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Lord of the Rings.
While Musk makes no connection to the Tesla brand, his support of the #TeamTrees campaign is on-brand since electric cars are a better alternative for the environment.
3. Marc Benioff: 900,000 trees donated on Nov 6
Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, is not afraid to call out other executives and has been one of the more vocal executives in trying to get his peers to tackle important social issues, such as wealth disparity and climate change.
Unlike the previous two executives, Benioff did not tweet as much regarding #TeamTrees or make any announcement on social media about his donation. The only tweet where he refers to it is in this “thank you” tweet to MrBeast and Musk.
In his donation, Benioff writes, “Inspired by Treelon,” referring to the short period of time in which Musk changed his Twitter name to “Treelon” after his donation. Because Benioff has not made any major tweets about #TeamTrees, his tweets have not seen as much engagement compared to other executives on the Top Donor lists. Salesforce does have a history of starting projects related to the environment so Benioff’s involvement with #TeamTrees is a natural fit for the brand.
4. Susan Wojcicki: 200,000 trees donated on Oct 30
With the #4 spot being held by a company, the next highest-ranking executive on the Top Donors list is Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. Compared to the tweets we have seen on the list so far, Wojcicki’s tweet is very composed and takes a more professional tone.
Incredible to see the momentum of #TeamTrees and the power of the @YouTube creator community raising money for @arborday. I'm donating 200k trees to help #TeamTrees reach 20M trees 🌲Thanks to @MarkRober for your leadership! https://t.co/ecIYetjHQ1 pic.twitter.com/SNDpdTbxgv
— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) October 30, 2019
So far, Wojcicki is the first executive on the list to both use the #TeamTrees hashtag and tag @arborday. Her tweet includes all relevant tags, such as the campaign’s co-creator, Mark Rober. In terms of branding, she also tags @YouTube and calls out that the platform is where the campaign originated from.
Wojcicki went a step further and created a 2:30 video where she is planting a tree alongside Rober. The video has almost 50,000 views and over 3,600 likes. In her tweet, connecting the #TeamTrees movement to YouTube has less to do about making the company seem environmentally friendly and more to do with promoting the platform itself. Wojcicki makes a direct reference to YouTube’s community of content creators and how they are proactive and engaged in the project. It highlights how YouTube can be used as a platform for positive change.
5 and 6. Jack Dorsey: 150,000 trees donated on Oct 29 and 200,000 trees donated on Oct 31
Co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, takes up both #6 and #7 spots on the Top Donor list. Dorsey has not made any official mention of his involvement with #TeamTrees on either his Twitter or his Instagram account (which has been inactive for a long time). Currently, there is no official confirmation from Twitter or Dorsey that he made the donations, or if someone made them in his name.
7. Jean-Michel Lemieux: 100,100 trees donated on Oct 31
Another Shopify executive makes the list, with Jean-Michel Lemieux coming in at #8. Inspired by his CEO, Tobi Lütke, Lemieux also joined the campaign while calling on other executives of smaller companies to participate. He stated that his donation amount would be based on the number of retweets combined with the number of likes his post received. Though his post did not receive as many likes as Musk, he did receive far more retweets and his post is among the top in terms of engagement. By calling on users to participate and like or retweet his post to drive up his donation amount, this resulted in a high degree of engagement from users. Unlike other executives on the list, Lemieux has pinned his tweet, making it more prominent on his page.
OK friends, remember "we are groot" 🌲. @tobi started a great initiative today. I'll donate one tree per RTs + Likes that this tweet gets. Deal?
— Jean-Michel Lemieux (@jmwind) October 30, 2019
Lemieux has also been continuously retweeting and posting content related to #TeamTrees, whether it is sharing tree facts, articles, or calling on more people to participate in the campaign. He has since created his own initiative called Sneaker Trees to help raise the last $5 million required to hit the goal.
I can’t stop thinking about trees.
Is this too crazy of idea if we pooled our efforts? Could we raise the 5m remaining for #teamtrees? For every sneaker follower donate a new pair of 👟 and I’ll auction on Shopify signed and with a special gift. All proceeds to trees? Thoughts? https://t.co/3LpOtCuh6x
— Jean-Michel Lemieux (@jmwind) November 8, 2019
Not only has Lemieux has tweeted the most about #TeamTrees since his donation compared to other executives, he has also continued to link his company with the campaign, putting the spotlight on smaller companies that use Shopify.
— Jean-Michel Lemieux (@jmwind) November 10, 2019
After analyzing the executives on the top donor list for #TeamTrees, it is clear that social media activity and engagement levels vary greatly among them. Some executives, like Jack Dorsey and Marc Benioff, have made no mention of their donation on Twitter. This is a missed opportunity to connect an executive and by extension, the brand, to a timely and positive campaign.
In terms of engagement, three executives stand out on the list. Elon Musk garnered the most retweets and likes out of any other executive on the list. Although none of his content directly referenced Tesla, he is already a popular figure that garners a lot of public attention. The next stand-out executive is Susan Wojcicki who used her own platform, YouTube, to create a short video to create a strong brand connection. Lastly, Jean-Michel Lemieux has shown the most consistency and engagement in terms of activity levels post-donation by retweeting and posting original content. Comparing these tweets show us that executives who are successfully able to tie their content back to their company do so by being more active on the platform and employ best practices on social media.