By MassE Intern Gabe Rosenbloom
How often do you use social media? Well, I guess “use” is a funny word. Instead of “using” social media in the form of posting, I often find myself spending time on social media gazing at what others have posted. Whether it’s my own OCD or the beauty of what social media can do, I always feel compelled to go through everything I have missed from the prior day. Although, I may not spend time reading every word I do look at everything that’s been posted.
And it’s not just me…my friends and family do the same thing. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms we all are just checking rather than posting. Social media has created a space where we know we can check up on people we care about, get news, and be judgmental. However, even by just “using” social media for the sake of doing so we are participating in an activity that we know a decent portion of the world is participating in.
This spring I had the opportunity to help MassEnergize develop a tool kit to run social media campaigns. I researched ways in which social media messaging can be effective. I learned a bunch from Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr who founded Community-Based Social Marketing.
McKenzie-Mohr tells us that a majority of people don’t know how to effectively engage with people if they are infrequent users or unaccustomed to the tools that provide the outreach. The more we can publicize the importance of a specific action and how beneficial it is, the more likely we will outweigh the barriers of that action, or as he notes, “benefits trump barriers.” His research teaches us that the more often we ourselves can model an activity, the more likely that others will join in with us. People respond to positive messages and the more frequently we can commit people to an action in writing the more attached to that action they will feel.
One example can be seen by how McKenzie-Mohr worked with the Toronto Transit Commission in wanting to sway Canadians from idling. Though many Canadians believed that idling was not an issue, McKenzie-Mohr wanted to tackle the issue in the most cost effective manner. Though No-Idling signs didn’t work, what did seem to work was representing the issue from the standpoint of public health and approaching those idling by having a conversation. To take it a step further, McKenzie-Mohr’s team wanted to ensure the people they spoke with would continue to make this change. By giving them a sticker to put on their cars this symbol acted as a prompt to themselves and others, or a “public and durable commitment.”
McKenzie-Mohr’s teachings remind us how necessary it is for us to “look at the action you want to discourage in order to push the action you want to encourage.” As social media has become the way in which we communicate, utilizing it correctly in order to reach out to our communities will create immense impact.
I put his teachings into play by developing a manual and a schedule of posts for two 6-week campaigns, one on “#Greening Your Electricity and a second on “#Meatless Mondays.” Stay tuned for these playbooks after MassEnergize finishes their beta testing and don’t be afraid to jump off the deep end!
Even though we might not all enjoy “using” social media, it is now a primary means of communication within our communities! Let’s activate and create a space online where our communities feel compelled to make a difference. Instead of just “using” these platforms we will be putting them to USE.
Gabe Rosenbloom – Intern (2022) – MassE
For more information on Dr. Doug McKenzie – Mohr