McKenzie-Mohr studied the use of commitments, incentives, prompts, social norms and vivid communication to alter behavior and found these tools resulted in adoption of energy conserving measures much more than advertising. In one CBSM study, asking for a public commitment to conserve energy resulted in a 15% reduction in natural gas and a 20% reduction in energy use.
By combining the insights of psychology and social marketing, CBSM became a useful tool to the environmental technical assistance providers who were trying to effect positive behavioral change.
More than a decade after the low-tech approach of CBSM was introduced, those of us who do this work are applying these concepts through social media. Social networks, whether in person or on line, link people with common interests. Tap these social networks to find influencers who can help effect positive environmental change among their networks.
The way you find these influencers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and in MeetUp groups is to look for people actively sharing, commenting or promoting. People on these sites who:
- have a large number of friends or followers,
- write blog posts then share them,
- “like” the content of others, and
- are the primary point of contact for a group,
The way to engage these influencers is to “like” their content and leave affirmative comments. When sharing their content, post the main take away and your supportive view on why this is worth reading. Developing an on-line connection may result in them sharing the content you post that dovetails with their interests.
Once you find influencers with common interests, then the CBSM framework kicks in. The social diffusion of ideas spreads through on-line networks as well as through in-person networks. The key to navigating this new on-line social network is building relationships.
Once you know how to engage influencers through social media, you’ll find it’s a powerful tool for change. Many people want to help our environment are overwhelmed by all the things they know they could be doing but aren’t. And they're busy. Help them cut through the clutter. Show which measures make a difference, share these ideas through social media and build your own on-line community.
If done right, environmentally beneficial behaviors can spread rapidly and widely, much farther than through limited in-person community networks.
For more information on CBSM, check out McKenzie-Mohr's website.