Posts Tagged social media

Social Norms via Social Media

Here’s quick share of a blog post about spreading social change via social media.

Today’s 2-hour distracted driving event with US Dept of Transportation and Consumer Reports was streamed live online, along with a Twitter conversation with #DD hashtag.

The social media blog post was shared during this conversation – it’s a reminder that you can spread messages online, and perhaps influence those who value the beliefs of their online communities. Online is another “community” where social norms are taking shape. (But despite the growth of social media, we should remember not everyone is involved in it or open to being influenced by it.)

Several influential social media moms with large followings were tweeting during the distracted driving event, and that surely will stimulate Facebook shares, blog posts and traditional media like interviews for magazine and newspaper articles.

Parents are a critical audience for safer teen driving, and numerous parents follow and “talk” with the influential online movers and shakers – how can we engage these influential parents (moms and dads) who’ve built large online followings?

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Go to the watering holes

A conversation with a marketer today reminded me of the importance of going to where your audience is. It’s more efficient and less expensive than trying to get the audience to come to you. Today’s social media movement makes it much easier to reach your audience. All the communications channels allow you to share your links. Your intended audience will visit you if they want to. It’s your job to make your communication compelling enough to follow.

Look for smaller, specialized and active “watering holes.” You may get more attention there.

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How to reach a whole country like the conversation about cell phones & driving

I’m watching the 2nd USDOT Distracted Driving Summit online today. Reflecting on the past year.  Sharing a recipe on how to make a sweeping national difference — quickly — on a public health issue. It’s possible.

This recipe has been cookin’ to change national beliefs and behavior about using cell phones while driving:

  • The backing of a very high level government official — in this case, a member of the President’s Cabinet, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
  • Not only have the “backing” of a very high level government official — he or she should publicly “go on a rampage” about your issue, as Secretary LaHood often describes his mission. He is on a rampage to stop crashes and deaths due to distracted driving.
  • The government official should have a very public presence and excellent communication skills.
  • The government official should be in a position to influence change in federal regulation. As announced at the Distracted Driving Summit today, truck drivers must follow a USDOT regulation limiting their cell phone use.
  • Federal financial resources must be allocated to fund proven effective behavior change strategies.
  • Encourage people affected by your issue to start a national advocacy organization so the public hears their stories. They are also powerful advocates when lobbying legislators and others for change.
  • Recruit relevant nationally-recognized organizations to see their vested interest in your issue. Changing the issue should be among their core goals. Organizations that are good at getting others to listen, that are good at getting media attention, are best.
  • The relevant nationally-recognized organizations will help move change faster if they are well-connected in all sectors of politics, business, media.
  • When the above support is vocal, the media will report on what these organizations and people are talking about. And media drives more media like a snowball down a mountain. Watch it roll!
  • Reach out to public and private employers who can change their employees’ environment for the better. People working full-time spend most of their waking hours at work. The workplace has a huge influence on social norms. Team up with organizations that specialize in reaching employers. And as those working in public health know, influencing employer policies can make sweeping change.
  • Share compelling data about the impact of your issue. I work on traffic safety and there’s (unfortunately) no shortage of compelling data about the toll of crashes. Leverage the data.
  • If your issue can be addressed with state laws, develop a prioritized plan to advocate. There are 50 states. You won’t be able to work in all. If your issue is rolling, the public is talking, and it’s likely state legislators are already taking action in response to the public desire. This angle is worthy of a whole blog on its own so I won’t get in detail beyond listing it as very important for change.
  • Fully use all online communications available today — blogs, Twitter, Facebook, online webcasts. I mean, fully. What does this mean? Watch for a post later with an example. 

This may look overwhelming. But it’s possible. Those of us in public health know population-level change is not easy and this is what it takes. Think Thanksgiving Dinner cooking, not frozen food in the microwave.

I show a pizza recipe above because I think of public health change like a pizza — many ingredients are needed to bring change: education, social norms, policy, enforcement, technology, physical environment, etc.

This change has happened for many issues and it’s happening right now for cell phones and driving. I’m thankful to work in the middle of it, to see how these ingredients all work to influence massive change. It’s possible!

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Double Rainbow Guy asked “What does this meeeaaaannnnn?”

If you don’t know what this title means, check out this video.

Who knows if he ever figured out what it meant. But here’s what it means to me: If there was ever any question that social media will dramatically change communication and what people pay attention to, there shouldn’t be any question after Microsoft created an advertisement around this guy.

I’ve been slow to embrace the social media thing. I wanted to believe that social media is just the latest trend to sell marketing seminars to marketers. I thought people are playing it up because putting “social media” in a webinar title is a surefire way to gather lots of leads because you know people are gonna sign up for it. I thought it’s just something the younger generation does — you know, MySpace and all. Facebook and Twitter came along and I thought they’d just flame out like lots of new things do. But social media doesn’t stop. It keeps spreading.

At first I thought of social media like dandelions and crabgrass — a distraction from the real stuff I want to do online. I don’t want to use weekend hours battling weeds, I want to garden the flowers and herbs, grow and pick the tomatillos and make salsa verde. I’m still figuring social media out, how to get out of it what I want. I did find the best salsa verde recipe on a blog. But before today, I thought I could get away with ignoring social media. I thought we could choose to minimize its impact on our lives. But something about the Double Rainbow Guy ad clicked — there is no ignoring social media. Ever. It will weave itself into the air of our everyday lives. Like pollen. It’s never going away, and we must all live with it.

Now, imagine the big change that the invention of automobiles brought to our whole culture and way of living … for a moment imagine the changes brought by radio and then TV to society …

Many of us don’t need to imagine the changes brought by cable, desktop computers, the Internet, wireless, cell phones. We’ve lived that. The typewriters gathering dust in corners of basements and the unused phone and cable jacks in walls tell us everything we need to know. For each of these changes, something was left behind while we were all swept forward to the next thing. Really, we don’t have much choice if we want to stay connected. I realized today social media belongs on this list now. There’s no escaping the change it will bring.

What was it about the Double Rainbow Guy that clicked? I was not one of the 12-13 million people who watched his video when it went viral. Missed that one. I never heard of him until yesterday when they were talking about him and Microsoft on the radio during morning drive time. Then Chicago radio stations were talking more during afternoon drive time. Then I tripped across a story about the Microsoft ad on a big media site, maybe CNN.com. They all talked about Double Rainbow Guy like we should know who he is. There’s no escaping Paris Hilton and ICanHasCheezburger memes but Double Rainbow Guy? Who is this guy??? Can we get through 2010 without hearing about him? Apparently not. So now really curious, I Googled the double raindow video and the ad, fully aware of free publicity Microsoft is getting about this ad. This Microsoft blog describes how the ad idea got rolling. And now today, my attitude about social media forever changed.

The thing is, how many corporate marketers are right now, while you read this, scouring YouTube for their own Double Rainbow Guy? And how many people are taping crazy things right now hoping they’ll get their claim to fame too? You know it’s a lot. Yep, big changes ahead …

What does this mean for public health and how we communicate?

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