Posts from the ‘Social Marketing’ category

Calling All Creative for Good Projects

World Economic Forum's Creative for Good Initiative
How are you mixing art and science for good?

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on “The Future of Media” is leading an effort to celebrate and amplify “Creative for Good” projects.  With a number of strong collaborators including the National Social Marketing Centre, The Kaiser Family Foundation, Osocio and others, the call for submissions shares:

Top Posts of 2012 – Social Marketing Meets Social Innovation

Where do social marketers get their inspiration?

In an attempt to share how social innovation and social marketing intersect with a colleague of mine, the colleague responded something along the lines of: “I don’t get why it matters. Social innovation sounds like everything we’re already doing in social marketing.”

Read More… >>>

DTR Your Messaging Bromance

Is it too bold to suggest messaging doesn’t change behavior?

A colleague of mine shared an article titled, Should Public Health Campaigns Change Their Messages? based on a study by Statistics Canada. The study shares interesting insights on the relationship between messaging and behavior change based on its 12 years of longitudinal data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey among Canadians aged 50 or older with a chronic disease. Findings show that:

  • 3 in 4 smokers with respiratory disease… do not quit smoking
  • Most people with diabetes or heart disease… will not become more physically active, and
  • For people diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, diabetes or stroke… virtually, no one will increase their intake of fruit and vegetables.

Read More… >>>

Shifting from Campaign to Cause

“The detached Don Drapers of the marketing world cannot simply rely on creating deep and lofty brand awareness campaigns any longer,” says cofounder and CEO of HubSpot Brian Halligan. He’s right. This mantra not only applies to Madison Avenue, but also within the ivory towers of public health creatives as well.

There’s more.

“Marketing campaigns are not about winning awards for creative, building the flashiest websites, gaming Google for higher rankings, generating mounds of media coverage, or negotiating the lowest cost per thousand (CPM) in order to interrupt the largest audience. The job of a marketing agency is to produce results that impact the bottom line.” This from Paul Roetzer of PR20/20 in his new book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint.

Can we get an amen?

Serving the Bottom Line

Though both gentlemen talk more so about agencies serving the private sector, parallels to the public sector are easily made. Instead of being satisfied with awareness measures of reach and impressions, let’s aim for game changing results and talk about how our efforts result in:

  • connections created
  • behavior changed
  • knowledge increased
  • attitude influenced
  • policy adjusted

To do so, we need to evolve the traditional mass media campaign model into one that serves the bottom line. Because even once you reach someone with your campaign, then what?

Broadcast on Blast

Building a bridge between awareness and action has been an ongoing pain point in public health and social change efforts. Using the mass media model, we’re really good at broadcasting our messages to reach people–often talking at them instead of with them. Yet even once reached, we stop the conversation.

At the CDC conference in August, some of my favorite brainiacs came together (shout out to Andre Blackman, Doug Weinbrenner, Nedra Weinreich, Jay Bernhardt and Mike Newton-Ward). We got into a conversation about “dosage.” Sure, that has to do with making an impact. But we also need to help voices be heard, information be shared and communities be built. For fellow theory-loving junkies, it’s about taking into consideration the whole social-ecological model.

Getting Our Hands Dirty

Traditional mass media models that follow TV PSAs, direct mail, radio announcements and the like allow us to safely distance ourselves from the nitty-gritty hard work of transforming our world. It puts us a hands distance from actually interacting with and serving our people. It’s time to roll up our sleeves.

Our work is no longer about building a one-and-done campaign, but about creating shared experiences and building movements. To build bridges, we have to walk side-by-side with those we want to not only reach, but truly engage.

Shifting Evidence

When you look at data such as knowing that 80% of U.S. adults look for health information online, 50% own smartphones, 20% or more own tablet devices and 10% have already downloaded a health app, you see a shift is occurring in how people are finding, using and sharing information. This demands that we too much shift our approach.

In May, I presented to the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association on how new patterns and trends in communication offer new opportunities in engaging people in public health efforts. This shift isn’t about technology, but about people. People, empowered by digital media, can help evolve a campaign into a cause.

The presentation below presents three examples of how social media in particular can evolve a campaign into cause. Since I presented during National Women’s Health Week, this presentation focuses more so on this particular population.

The Social Media Shift: From Campaign to Cause from Alex Bornkessel

During the presentation, I shared additional data points on how positioning a public health effort as a cause when working with women can be especially effective. If you’re interested in this additional information, send an email to


What’s In A Campaign? That Which We Call Change

As the science behind social change evolves, how we approach our work must too. And sometimes, it is just semantics. But sometimes, it’s not. It’s a difference in mentality.

Take the idea of a “campaign” for example. The word campaign itself brings with it assumed processes, methods and associations. It also ranks up there with “awareness” as one of the most overused and over-relied upon words in public health. We can do better.

The word-of-mouth company, Brains on Fire, wrote a brilliant manifesto on the inherent differences between a campaign and a movement that can help point us in the right direction:

Campaigns have a beginning and an end.
Movements go on as long as kindred spirits are involved.

Campaigns are part of the war vocabulary. (target, launch, dominate markets…)
Movements are part of the evangelist vocabulary. (evangelize, passion, love…)

Campaigns are dry and emotionally detached.
Movements are organic and rooted in passion.

Campaigns rely on traditional mediums.
Movements rely on word of mouth, where the people are the medium.

Campaigns are part of the creationist theory—we’re going to create something cool
and people will talk about it.
Movements are part of the evolutionist theory—whatever we co-create with the fans
they can own and run with it, which will evolve over time.

Campaigns are you talking about yourself.
Movements are others talking about you.

Campaigns are an ON/OFF switch.
Movements are a volume dial—and there’s no zero.

Campaigns add to awareness.
Movements add to credibility.

Campaigns are “you vs. us.”
Movements are “let’s do this together.”

Next week, the University of Florida’s Center for Digital Health and Wellness will host its first Digital Health Communications Extravaganza. May we approach the week with the idea that we want sustainable movements of change focused on outcomes, impact and building relationships that strengthen communities.

Will you be at #DHCX? What other words rank up there on your list of over-used and over-relied upon?

flickr credit: JanneM

Social Media Is Not a Marketing Strategy

There, I said it. Social media in and of itself is not a strategy (gasp). It does not replace a solid marketing approach or even a communications plan. To be successful, it must be integrated into a larger strategic framework. This applies to organizations as well as programs, initiatives and (my dreaded word) campaigns.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article titled “Separate Social Media From Marketing:”

…we need to break out social media and talk about more than marketing and technology. Instead, we need to talk about what social media enables: the ability to collaborate in new ways — which is particularly important for business leaders interested in creating more collaborative, innovative, and engaging organizations. […]

The use of these platforms can truly transform a business by moving beyond brand marketing. Social media has enabled business leaders to think differently about how they engage and interact with both customers and employees. But just because you’ve opened the door doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the threshold into a new way of working, managing, and leading.

Your marketing team might have the best handle on social media, but what about other departments in your organization? When you change the focus from the technology to more about what the technology enables and what you want to achieve, then you change the conversation. You start to be strategic.

An Opportunity for Social Marketers

Craig Lefebvre on Twitter the other day shared an article on Paramount and how they are changing their approach to mobile from brand awareness to driving a behavioral outcome (buying a movie ticket). How we use social media should also evolve. In fact, how we view marketing and communications in general needs to evolve. Marketing isn’t something you think about “later,” it’s about so much more than communications and it doesn’t live within just one team. It’s integral to your success now and everyone plays a role.

I’ve written before about the “Word of the Year.” As December nears, I’m starting time for reflection early and designating all of December a time to ponder on the past, step back from the present and imagine tomorrow. My first thought? 2012’s”Word of the Year” might just be integration.

New Research Suggests The Color Pink is Bad for Breast Cancer

Gender Cue ResearchA new research area around gender cues and its impact on awareness and fundraising efforts is just getting off the ground according to Dr. Stefano Puntoni, an Associate Professor of Marketing Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, in an interview conducted by Harvard Business Review.

“[Gender que research] is quite new…Over the past 10 years, researchers have put more effort into thinking about consumer welfare. What can we we do as researchers to help consumers make better decisions?” Dr. Puntoni said. “How can we effect change in areas like overeating and disease prevention? This is part of that. We could go more general with gender cue research, but breast cancer is such an important disease that I want to study this more on its own.”

Dr. Puntoni is talking about the findings from 10 different experiments over the past three years that suggest gender cues (such as the color pink) may be counter-productive to campaigns against women’s diseases, such as breast cancer awareness and fundraising efforts. The main insight from the research found that when women saw branding that included gender cues (like the color pink), the branding and ads were less effective. Why? Possibly because the subconscious goes into a state of denial, causing women to:

  • Think they are less likely be at risk
  • Say they are less likely to donate in reaction to a breast or ovarian cancer advertisement

The infographic below created by One to One Global highlights more of the Dr. Puntoni’s research:

Gender Cue Research

Komen Responds

A spokeswomen for Susan G. Komen responded to the research in Ad Age saying that: “The research is food for thought but pink has worked well over the years,” she said. “I would say that in our experience for over 30 years now we’ve been pretty successful using pink. We’ve raised over $2 billion for research and community programs to help people with breast cancer. I don’t want to necessarily discount [the research]. It’s something to look at and consider, but our historic experience has been that we’re doing okay with the pink.”

The AdAge article continues:

Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980, also wore a lot of pink, the spokeswoman said, forming a strong association for her sister Nancy G. Brinker, who later founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “It’s not just a random color we selected,” she said. “It actually reflects the connection between the two sisters and the promise that was made.”

Though some have seen success with the color pink specifically, the research around gender cues is “something to consider” for breast cancer and beyond. Just like there’s cause fatigue, perhaps there’s been so much success—that younger generations of women don’t see the risk or the need to donate.

What do you think?

Puntoni, S., Sweldens, S. & Tavassoli, N.T. (2011). Gender Identity Salience and Perceived Vulnerability to Breast Cancer. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(June), 413-424.
flickr credit: ILRI

Margaret Mead Predicts Social Science

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Margaret Mead said this in the early 20th century. Who knew that in the early nineteen hundreds, she’d be quoting today’s science?

People and Crowds

A new study conducted at the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on how beliefs spread through social networks found that minority rules: Only 10% of a population needs to be convinced of a new or different opinion to change the beliefs of an entire community.

According to the article, there are two main take-aways for those in the public health space:

  • Public health campaigns might do well to target a small percentage of a community.
  • Getting an entire population to adopt a new belief might require simply convincing 10 percent to believe it first.

In an interview, Prof. Boleslaw Szymanski, director of SCNARC, was quoted saying:

“We suggested,” Sreenivasan said, “that instead of trying to convince everyone, it might make the most sense to target selectively the people who are open-minded enough to hear out the evidence and make up their minds rationally.”

Reading through the details of this study is fascinating and so many questions come to mind for future exploration:

  • Is minority rule a good thing? This research helps us better understand the importance to develop messages, materials and services with a certain community in mind to help ignite a movement. However, taken to the extreme, one can’t help but wonder about this insight being applied with misguided intent.
  • Is 10% the tipping point? Once you reach 10% of the population–is that the tipping point for spreading ideas through social networks and alter behaviors on a larger scale?
  • Does this rule apply across the board? According to the article, the research is still in its early stages. It’s uncertain if this 10% rule will apply to all kinds of beliefs, especially political ones.
  • How does this connect with influencer theory? So much has been said about the role of influencers: who they are and how to connect with them–and if that even matters. Craig Lefebvre made a good point during last week’s CDC conference that the hyper-focus on influencers leads to a “distraction from understanding who are the ‘influenced’ and what can we learn from them.” I tend to agree.

What about you–What’s your reaction to this research?

flickr credit: ThisParticularGreg

Designing for Community Change

At the beginning of the month, Craig Lefebvre challenged us to 10 “What Ifs” for social marketing in the coming year. At the heart of Craig’s what ifs is a change in perspective in terms of approach. This shift is also reflected in the United States’ recently released Healthy People 2020 blueprint which is committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions. Compared to Healthy People 2010, Healthy People 2020 includes:

  • Social determinants of health as a new topic area in the Healthy People 2020 framework, and
  • Determinants of Health are also one of the four new Foundation Health Measures which will be used as guides to monitor progress toward promoting health, preventing disease and disability, eliminating disparities, and improving quality of life in the United States.

One of the greatest ways that this shift is being applied in social marketing is by evolving the social marketing approach to influence systems, networks and environments. How? Through design–Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

Bertie County, North Carolina:  Teaching Design for Change

Designer Emily Pilloton is truly inspiring in her approach, her commitment and personal dedication to finding innovative solutions and sustainable approaches to positive social change. Pilloton founded Project H Design, a non-profit design firm where they apply the design process to catalyze communities and public education from within. In the presentation above, Pilloton shares with us the story of Bertie County. The county is the poorest in the state and faces a number of public health challenges that other rural areas may relate to including being a “rural ghetto,” dealing with “brain drain,” and having little access to creative capital.

However, the picture in Bertie County is becoming more vibrant thanks to Pilloton and others working to change the system–the environment. Pilloton walks us through the six steps her firm has applied to make change come to Bertie County:

  1. Design through action.
  2. Design with, not for.
  3. Design systems, not stuff.
  4. Document, share and measure.
  5. Start locally and scale globally.
  6. Build.

In short, Poilloton and the Project H team “design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.” They might not say “we do social marketing” up front–but to me, that’s exactly what they’re doing and we can learn much from them. They are doing the work and taking the type of approach that the shift described above calls for and requires. And shown in Bertie County, this may mean that we need to get our hands dirty, ignite creativity, make genuine connections with those we want to serve, and have a personal conviction to see change happen.

Howard Roads, Virginia:  Designing for Physical Activity

This example comes from Rescue Social Change Group (RSCG). RSCG is a research, marketing and strategy firm where they focus on the relationship between identity and behavior to change behavior through culture. In this specific case, RSCG worked with Howards Roads, Virginia to promote physical activity amongst youth. The reason this case stands out is because it didn’t take the ‘easy button’ approach of pushing “get active” or “exercise more” messages to tweens and teens. Instead, they went a step further and actually designed an environment to promote physical activity for youth. They accomplished this by creating a step dancing league called Step Royale where teams compete throughout the year to earn the title of the best step team in Hampton Roads.

From What Ifs to What Next

Given these two examples, here are three “What Ifs” to add to the list:

  • What if public health wasn’t just about the message but also about the design, the system, the network and the environment?
  • What if public health wasn’t just the responsibility of public health folks but resonated and took root in our communities?
  • What if we didn’t ask what if–but instead, asked what’s next?

I’m almost thinking of a Roosevelt-New-Deal-sense of shared responsibility and commitment. The global citizen can start with us and our neighbors–We can design change in our communities.

Disclaimer: Healthy People 2020 is an initiative by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–of which, is a client that I work with at IQ Solutions.