Creating Habits for Social Good was a session from NTEN’s 2013 NTC, lead by Katya Andresen and Allan Burstyn. The part of the presentation I found most interesting and wanted to share, was the idea of influencing behavioral change.

For-profits have been influencing behavior and creating habits in their customers for years. For a perfect example of this, look no further than Facebook. I will admit Facebook has been successful in influencing my behavior, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The good news is, these tactics can translate to the non-profit world as well, and be used to create social good. But how? First you need to understand what the ingredients are to influencing behavioral change.

Motivation + Ability + Trigger = Behavioral Change

Influencing behavioral change can be broken down into a simple equation: Motivation + Ability + Trigger = Behavior Change. Let’s break each one down:

  • Motivation – People are most driven by Impulses and emotions, (videos, emails, and social media have to be successful in invoking a certain feeling).
  • Ability – How easy is the desired action to achieve? Simplicity is key. Motivation and ability are very closely tied.
  • Trigger – Triggers can be internal or external, but they need to bring your desired action to mind for your audience.

The most important take away? These three things must happen at the same time. Like a regular math problem, if you take out part of the equation, you aren’t going to end up with the desired result.

How can you translate these emotions and drives into content? Videos and storytelling are best for behavioral change – try a hook at the beginning of a video with an emotional story. Be sure to include stats to show validity and a clear, easily achievable call to action.

Finally, consider mobile friendliness. Mobile makes it easier than ever to allow people to take action the moment they are triggered, so think about using mobile landing pages to catch people when they are on the go.

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