“I’m sorry your dog died. LOL.”
An interior design blogger shared this story of how she thought LOL meant “Lots of Love” but wound up unknowingly using LOL most inappropriately! And not just this one time, many times until she found out what it meant.
Public health is full of stories of ineffective and even harmful campaigns because not enough was known about the audience and its communication. The lady who unwittingly confused her dear friends could have asked her social media-savvy kids what LOL meant. Unfortunately sometimes we don’t even know what we don’t know in order to ask. Here’s a way to steer clear of no-laughing-matter situations — always do your formative research (or, market research as some professions call it). This will give you a deep understanding of your audience’s motivations, behaviors, needs, change triggers, etc. and make your communications more effective at the change you seek. And most certainly, it will help you avoid unintended mishaps that are no laughing matter.
So, public health friends, if you want more attention for your issue, link it to zombies somehow. When the CDC used zombies as a hook for an issue, the world beat a path to the CDC blog so much that the CDC’s web site crashed. Yeah. Check it out. If you can get on the CDC site. I couldn’t.
Sounds like a fun, innovative way to get attention. Maybe we don’t always have to communicate so rationally?
Last night over dinner with a visitor, the book The Social Animal which I wrote about previously came up in conversation. Not by me. By a very rational, statistics-driven MBA. And his description of what he learned from the book was very similar to the messages in Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, another book I’ve been reading and have intended to blog about my public health and traffic safety view of its advice. Great reminder to get back on that, because apparently, “what makes people tick” can be very interesting dinner talk. Zombies, too.
Heard while driving home yesterday: NPR interview about the new book The Social Animal which offers an interesting angle on human behavior that differs from policymaker assumptions. Perhaps leading to many of the major policy failures this world has seen lately. The author believes these policy failures are due to an overly simplistic view of human nature by the policymakers.
Key points from the NPR story:
- Perhaps other people besides policymakers — such as scientists, philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists — were the ones who had real insight on how people thrive.
- In Washington, D.C. … decisions are made based on the assumption that people are cold, rationalistic individuals who respond to incentives.
- But emotion is more important than reason … most of our thinking happens below the level of awareness.
- In situations like the one in Egypt, signals transferred from person to person affected the mood and emotions of the entire country. (My note: contrast with, how would an economist describe the situation and human behavior?)
- The author David Brooks says, “”The reality of education is that people learn from people they love. But if you mention the word love at a congressional hearing, they look at you like you’re Oprah.”
I have not read the book yet. Just reporting. As I live with an economist, I’m aware there certainly are different viewpoints about why people do what they do, perhaps due to how our professional trainings shape how we see the world.