Women Are Strongest Believers in the Power of Supporting Causes

May 17

This post was originally posted to Ogilvy PR’s Womenology blog.

A recent study conducted by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in partnership with the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University revealed the importance of supporting causes for women in the U.S.

8 in 10 women believe that supporting causes creates a sense of purpose and meaning in life and feel everyone can make a difference through their support.

Some of the key findings showcase demographic trends in the current dynamics of cause involvement.

Here are some highlights:

Study results show that women are more likely than men to believe in the capacity of individuals to make a difference in society by supporting causes.

The top three causes women are most involved with are supporting our troops, feeding the hungry and breast cancer. The two latter receive greater support from women than from men. Women are also significantly more likely to support youth-related causes like bullying and childhood obesity.

When engaging with causes, social media play a greater role for women than men:

  • Women turn to social media as a source of cause information more often than men—though for both, this lags far behind traditional TV and print media sources and personal relationships.
  • More than 6 in 10 women believe online social networking sites increase the visibility of social issues and allow people to support causes more easilythis figure is significantly lower among men.
  • Women are also more likely than men to feel that social networking sites help them get the word out about a social issue or a cause.

However, women’s engagement in causes is not limited to the social media space. In fact, women expressed that only showing support to a cause on social networking sites is not enough: almost half of women think that “Everybody ‘likes’ causes on Facebook and it doesn’t really mean anything.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that the more historically prominent types of engagement (e.g., donating, learning more about the cause and signing a petition) remain the “most often” means of cause involvement for both women and men.

If you are interested in learning more, click here to download the full fact sheet and stay tuned as we continue to release additional findings from this study in the upcoming weeks:

  • May 31 – Cause Involvement by Ethnicity
  • June 13 – Cause Involvement by Generation
  • June 30 – Cause Involvement and Behavior Change

How social are you when it comes to seeking health information online?

May 13

When it comes to sharing and/or looking for health information online, are you a social butterfly or a wallflower? New findings from the Pew Internet and Life Project’s The Social Life of Health Information 2011 survey were released yesterday, showing that online resources, including advice from peers, serve as a significant source of health information in the U.S., while doctors, nurses, and other health professionals continue to be the first choice for most people with health questions and concerns. Additionally, this is the first time anyone has reported, in a national consumer survey, how consumers are using the Internet for self-tracking of their health.

One of 15 health issues were searched online by 80% of Internet users, or about 59% of the U.S. population, the survey showed. These issues include questions about a food recall, environmental hazard, or information on a specific disease, hospital or doctor.

Susannah Fox, Associate Director and author of the study, says the online conversation about health is being driven forward by two forces: 1) the availability of social tools and 2) the motivation, especially among people living with chronic conditions, to connect with each other.

General findings from the survey include:

  • Social network sites are popular, but used only sparingly for health updates and queries.
  • People caring for loved ones are more likely than other adults to use social network sites to gather and share health information and support.
  • Relatively few use hospital ranking and doctor review sites.
  • One in four adult internet users have consulted online reviews of drugs or treatments.
  • One in four adult internet users track their own health data online.
  • More people report being helped rather than harmed, by online health information.
  • The typical search for health information is on behalf of someone else

Read the rest of this entry »

The Power and Influence of Emotion

May 06

Although humans are complex creatures, let’s face it – we are “cognitive misers.” We like to process information simply. And who can blame us, in this day and age of information bombardment, it is natural to place information in silos to help us better digest the content.  Sometimes we even ignore information, unless something pulls us in.

I personally am fascinated by the role that emotion can play in helping us become attracted to, and thus, better able to accept and use information to change our behavior. In fact, studies have found that emotional messages (those providing some appeal to our feelings) are more memorable than rational messages (those that ignore the emotional aspect and focus exclusively on providing technical information).

An interesting theory, popular in advertising, is Petty and Cacioppo’s elaboration likelihood model (ELM). When faced with information, the ELM asserts that individuals take one of two routes: the central route or the peripheral route. Those who take the central route have the motivation and ability to process the rational arguments presented, while those who take the peripheral route tend to not have the motivation and ability to process the information. So, those who travel the central route focus on the message content, such as the textual information, while those on the peripheral route pay more attention to heuristic cues such as colors and visuals.

Sounds a bit obvious, that when we really don’t care about an issue, we  may defer to other aspects of a message that may make us interested. But, taking a twist on the ELM,  if emotional appeals can serve as heuristic cues, then perhaps we will be more likely to process the technical aspects of the content.  Our emotional state will influence how we process the message and can even draw us in to become interested in the more technical, information-heavy message.

We have seen this in social marketing campaigns, and in my opinion, these campaigns have been very effective.  And I’m not just talking about using fear as an emotion. Even other emotions, such as pride, joy, gratitude, and even worry and anxiety can pull us in to absorbing a message. Check out this ad promoting seat belt use that Lauren Belisle includes in her post on traffic safety.

While social marketing has recognized the powerful role of emotion and have been open to letting their campaigns “wear their hearts on their sleeves”, I think in general, health communication can do more to ensure that when rational information is presented, for example, on a Web site, some emotional aspects are attached.

It seems like the role of emotion was discussed a fair deal in the recent World Social Marketing Conference. I’m still going through the materials; they’re finally posted online!, including Dr. Jose Mazzon’s presentation [PDF] on The Role of Emotions in Social Marketing. If you attended the conference, or even if you didn’t, what are your thoughts, or feelings (pun-intended), on emotions in social marketing and health communication?

Supporting Our Troops and Feeding the Hungry are the Top Causes for Americans

May 05

The recent study, Dynamics of Cause Engagement, revealed that more Americans are involved with supporting our troops and feeding the hungry than any other causes or social issues today. Nearly two in five Americans affirmed to be personally involved with these causes. Health-related issues, such as breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease, also appear near the top of the list of causes in which Americans are most engaged.


The study conducted by Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication found that, when asked about the most prominent causes for 2011, survey respondents mentioned supporting our troops, feeding the hungry, bullying, childhood obesity, global warming and the Tea Party movement among the top causes.

Not surprisingly these causes are constantly on the headlines, indicating that Americans’ opinions over social issues seem to be highly influenced by the media.

However, the study revealed that “fame” or the perception of “prominence” does not always translate into the belief that a cause enjoys widespread support. Gay marriage ranked at the top of the list of causes that Americans feel society is less open to supporting, and global warming and the tea party movement, which also appeared high on the list of most prominent causes for 2011, also ranked among the top social issues that Americans believe society is less open to supporting.

Perhaps, the polarizing nature of these causes might be the drivers of their perceived notoriety?


And, speaking of attention drivers, Americans expressed that a cause needs more than a famous face behind it to garner attention. Although a carefully selected celebrity endorsement can play an important role in raising awareness, the study found that factors such as many people being affected by the issue, a timely event or tragedy, and children being impacted are considered more important attention drivers than celebrity involvement.

If you are interested in learning more, click here (http://www.ogilvypr.com/files/causes_release.pdf) and stay tuned as we continue to release additional findings from this study in the upcoming weeks:

  • May 16 – Cause Involvement by Gender
  • May 30 – Cause Involvement by Ethnicity
  • June 13 – Cause Involvement by Generation
  • June 27 – Cause Involvement and Behavior Change


When it Comes to Social Media, Where Do We Begin?

Apr 28

“Where do we begin?”

This is a question we see a lot in the social media space, particularly with agencies and organizations that have limited time and resources. And as with all questions related to the social Web, the answer depends on who you ask.

Some believe it starts with defining your audience, while others think it’s best to consider which platform works best for your message, and then move forward from there.

Last night, I moderated a panel for Social Media Club D.C. that addressed this and other questions within the context of the public health environment.

Panelist Alex Bornkessel, a social marketer and digital strategist for iQ Solutions, stressed the importance of defining “what success looks like for you” before jumping into the social media space, including establishing digital goals that make sense within your broader organizational mission. Panelist Danielle Leach of Inspire echoed Bornkessel’s comments, but cautioned that marketers shouldn’t “strategic plan your social media engagement to death – let some of it grow organically.”

All of the panelists agreed on two key points, put nicely by panelist Ted Eytan, MD, a family physician with Kaiser Permanente:

“When starting to use social media, there is a lot of conversation and education that needs to take place to make it work.”

I couldn’t agree more. While this seems like such a simple sentiment, too many organizations are still jumping on the social media bandwagon just because it’s “the next big thing.” To keep a clear focus on meeting your audience’s needs, you need to establish a sound set of goals, objectives and strategies to organize efforts before implementation. And this often requires educating colleagues or clients about what digital goals look like, and how to ensure that they ladder back to the bigger picture.

What do you think? Were our panelists on the mark? Where should social marketers begin when entering the social media space?

Friday Round-Up: What I’ve Been Reading

Apr 22

I’m back for another edition of Friday Round-Up. Sorry for the brief hiatus; we were in full swing conference mode with the World Social Marketing Conference.

  • Using Social Media to Save Women’s Lives. I love that these stories are increasingly being told. The Women’s Refugee Commission launched Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises. To help health care professionals providing maternal health are in remote, unstable areas of the world, the program uses social media through a Facebook page and SMS program to connect these health care providers with resources and a community to help find solutions and save lives.  Take a read through the actual post, the intricacies of the program are quite interesting.
  • Lies, Damn Lies, and Pharma Social Media Statistics. In what has to be my favorite read this week, Jonathan Richman calls on all of us to look further into research, especially as it related to health and social media, before we tweet, message, blog, etc.  I took his message to heart; this morning when reading a story that was reporting on the opinion of American parents, turns out the survey was completed by quite a small number of parents to have them represent all of the parents in America. So before you click the retweet button, take a further look at the information you’re sharing.  PS. Make sure you read Richman’s post to the end, he teases some data from Pew’s The Social Life of Health Information, which I can’t wait to read through when it’s released later this month. [via Susannah Fox]
  • From Smartphones to a Smarter World: The Impact of Mobile Tech. Raymond Schillinger provides a great write-up of the MobileCitizen Summit this past weekend in DC. The conference is more evidence of what is becoming increasingly clear: mobile is the platform of now it’s just a matter of getting everyone on board. [via Alexandra Bornkessel]
  • CDC Flu App Challenge. Speaking of the increasing power of mobile, CDC has put out a challenge to find innovative uses of technology (mobile, web, etc.) for raising awareness of influenza and/or educate consumers on ways to prevent and treat the flu. The best part: there’s $35,000 up for grabs. [via CDC eHealth]

What have you been reading? Leave a note below or let me know on Twitter.

A Recap of the 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference

Apr 20

The 2nd World Non-Profit and Social Marketing Conference last week in Dublin proved to be a spectacular event, bringing together over 600 attendees from 40 countries, featuring 200 presentations and 32 exhibitors, and as of today, 95% of the delegates who completed the conference evaluation say they will attend the next conference, which is scheduled for April 2013 in Toronto, Canada.

The conference also witnessed the launch of the first International Social Marketing Association. The Association will aim to develop, among other matters, more cooperation between not-for-profit agencies and corporations involved with social marketing.

New findings regarding attitudes about social marketing also had their debut. Ogilvy, in collaboration with the conference organizers The Conference People, fielded a global online survey which was conducted among 280 social marketing professionals to better understand trends, issues, and opportunities within the field of social marketing internationally, and the results were released on the first day of the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Using Games in Social Marketing

Apr 19

I recently had the privilege of attending a George Washington University Health Communication and Marketing symposia on Social Marketing and Games.  It’s a topic that has seen significant growth in recent years, and being a big Scrabble nerd and Wii Just Dance buff, I had particular interest in.  Whether using board games, video games, or playing cards, using games to encourage a specific behavior or outcome can be a powerful tool.

Symposia speaker Sussy Lungo from the Pan American Social Marketing Organization, demonstrated how her team has developed and used games to create discussion and awareness around HIV and STI prevention.  Targeting high risk audiences, including potential sex workers and clients of sex workers, in countries such as Honduras or El Salvador can be extremely difficult.  Lungo however, feels that using games is one way to make inroads around a topic that is often hard to discuss.  By using card games with messaging built into the game at places such as bars and night clubs, game players have fun and the ice is broken for conversation around the topic in a safe way. Check out Lungo’s presentation here [PPT].

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dynamics of Cause Engagement

Apr 19

How has the digital revolution changed the way Americans get involved with causes and social issues?

Illustration by Gerardo Obieta

Lately, we have seen a lot of discussion on the impact of digital media on cause involvement.  “Twitter revolution” and “slactivism” are terms that are now part of the social causes lexicon.

As in all good debates, different points of view have emerged.  Some believe that online activism creates loose ties which aren’t strong enough to propel signficant social movements; while others are advocates of the power of social media to create positive social change.

To add a new perspective to this debate, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide conducted a study in partnership with the Center for Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University to explore the current dynamics of cause engagement from the consumers’ standpoint.

The results of this study were presented for the first time last week at the 2nd World Non-profit and Social Marketing Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Here are some of the key findings that we shared:

  • Tradition Reigns Supreme: Despite the increased efforts of organizations to engage supporters through social media, our research revealed that various promotional social media activities — such as joining cause groups, posting a logo on social networking sites, and writing on blogs — are most often not the first line of engagement with causes and issues.  Rather, the more historically prominent types of engagement (e.g., donating money, volunteering, learning more about the cause) remain the first and most often means of consumer involvement.
  • Strategic Social Media Can Broaden Engagement:  Although promotional social media activities may not be on top of the list of ways Americans currently engage with causes, consumers recognize the importance of social media in facilitating the support of causes:
    • 57% of Americans agree that online social networking sites allow people to support causes more easily; and
    • 40% feel they can get the word out about a social issue or cause through online social networks.
  • So-called Slactivists: More Active Than You May Think:  Contrary to the assumption that the support of causes through social media would preclude more significant contributions, our study found that Americans who selected a promotional social media activity among the ways in which they most often get involved with causes are:
    • Just as likely as non-social media cause supporters to donate money;
    • Twice as likely to volunteer as non-social media cause supporters; and
    • Twice as likely to participate in events and walks.

In fact, Americans who support causes through promotional social media are involved in a significantly higher number of engagement activities, revealing that social media activities are being added to the range of historically prominent types of cause engagement activities instead of replacing them.

Our study additionally found higher utilization of social media for engaging with causes among particular demographic segments, namely women, younger generations, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Surprised by the findings?  Please share your thoughts.

For more information on the study, click here and stay tuned for upcoming webinars.  We’ll be discussing the implications of the study for practitioners.

Miles Young on Marketing in the Modern Age

Apr 18

Following his speech at the World Social Marketing Conference, Ogilvy & Mather CEO adapted his speech for the Huffington Post.  The beginning of the article is copied below; read the full article here.

Company or cause, marketing plays a vital role.

For companies, the marketing discipline helps sell products with the ultimate goal of boosting shareholder value. For causes, social marketing moves people to action for their own good — cajoling consumers to change unhealthy behaviors or to support a particular environmental program, for example.

These two branches of marketing typically have been separate, with mainstream marketing and social marketing keeping polite, if somewhat distant, relations. Some social marketers have felt that they rise above the rough and tumble of the marketplace, dealing instead with grand issues and ideas. Traditional marketers, with their rigid metrics of success and failure and laser focus on showing a return, have viewed social marketing somewhat askance for lacking similar rigor.

Keep reading Miles Young’s thoughts over on the Huffington Post.