Use social norms to demonstrate support for social change
Who communicates the information is very important when determining how much weight is given to it. Some studies have suggested that people are more likely to act on information if it is delivered by people who look and act like them.24 When considering the impact of hearing a message from a friend or peer, we can consider the role of social norms; this is the idea that we tend to do what people around us are already doing.13 People compare their behaviour with those around them to understand what is expected of them, by the group or by society more generally.
These norms can be developed through social networks at home or at work and can be applied to behaviour changes which might increase social action or engagement in campaigns.4 To further engage people who have shown an interest, social norms could be used to encourage certain behaviours or social action (see box, below).
Many campaigning organisations use social media as a way of further developing their community.25 Engagement through social media might allow the sharing of information and expression of support for a campaign within a person’s social network. This could have the effect of creating a social norm around support for a certain issue. This can also take place through discussion with friends and family, or colleagues in the workplace.
Born in the NHS
The ‘Born in the NHS’ campaign2has become a popular way for people to assert their identification with, and support for, the NHS. People started by sharing their experiences of the NHS on social media using the twitter hashtag #borninthenhs. This led to the creation of mugs, t-shirts hoodies and badges with the slogan. This could be considered to have set a social norm about valuing the NHS, which also invited others to show whether they also value it.
23 Wilkinson, R. & Pickett, K. (2010). The spirit level: Why equality is better for everyone. London: Penguin Group.
24 Durantini, M.R., Albarracin, D., Mitchell, A.L., Earl, A.N. & Gillette, J.C. (2006). Conceptualizing the influence of social agents of behavior change: A meta–analysis of the effectiveness of HIV–prevention interventionists for different groups. Psychological Bulletin 132, 212–248.
25 Rodriguez, N. S. (2016). Communicating global inequalities: How LGBTI asylum-specific NGOs use social media as public relations. Public RelationsReview. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. pubrev.2015.12.002
26 Retrieved 02.02.16 from http://peopleshistorynhs. org/encyclopaedia/born-in-the-nhs/