Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
Good	  Deeds	  go	  Viral	                                                                                                ...
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Helping good deeds go viral

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The results of research into the psychological motivations behind facebook sharing (literature review) with an effort to understand how "good deeds" can be made more shareable by mission-driven organizations.

The full (boring?) version is here: http://www.slideshare.net/jkatz81/sharing-altruistic-behavior-on-facebook

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Helping good deeds go viral

  1. 1. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.1        5  rules  for  helping  good  deeds  go  viral  June  2012  Jon  Katz,  University  of  California  Berkeley      It  is  now  widely  accepted  that  peer  influence  is  a  powerful  tool  shaping  our  behavior  both  online  and  offline.    Facebook,  Twitter,  and  many  other  online  social  tools  provide  ample  evidence  of  how  sharing  influences  others,  and  for  the  first  time  these  tools  are  allowing  us  to  track  what  is  being  shared  amongst  friends  and  why.    As  many  have  lamented  before  me,  there  are  far  too  many  cat  pictures  on  the  Internet.    There  is  also  a  lot  of  conspicuous  consumption  being  shared:    fancy  meals,  fancy  trips,  and  fancy  gadgets.    Aside  from  measurably  driving  traffic  and  purchases,  this  reinforces  certain  cultural  norms  around  behavior.      One  kind  of  behavior  that  is  not  shared  very  often  is  behavior  driven  by  altruistic  or  moral  intentions.    Though  we  do  see  them,  there  are  not  a  lot  of  updates  that  read:  “I  just  volunteered”  or  “I  just  called  my  congress  person  to  ask  that  they  overturn  Citizens  United.”    Before  you  start  thinking  about  times  you  or  your  friends  have  shared  such  things,  consider  these  search  results  from  Facebook:       V.     source:    Facebook  retrieved  6-­‐7-­‐12  or           V.    
  2. 2. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.2       source:    Facebook  retrieved  6-­‐7-­‐12    Feel  free  to  play  around  yourself  and  let  me  know  what  you  come  up  with.    Some  of  the  differences  surely  have  to  do  with  incentive  programs  and  promotional  budgets,  but  that  doesn’t  explain  all  of  it.    Educating  users  how  important  sharing  is  to  a  cause  is  a  good  thought,  and  some  use  this  tactic:    source:  causes.com        source:  Avaaz.org    However,  information  alone  rarely  has  as  much  impact  as  reason  would  suggest.      In  order  to  increase  sharing  rates,  we  have  to  look  beyond  the  cause  and  examine  the  motivations  behind  sharing.    Why  people  share  Though  academic  studies  of  Facebook  are  limited  by  a  short  half-­‐life  and  incomplete  methodologies,  the  literature  seems  to  agree  that  the  three  largest  reasons  for  sharing  on  Facebook  are:     1. Build  and  maintain  an  aspirational  identity  (project/disclose)   2. Create  and  maintain  relationships  (interact)  
  3. 3. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.3     3. Provide  information  or  entertainment  to  others  others  (help)    In  addition,  the  vast  majority  of  people  claim  that  they  are  not  motivated  by  the  desire  to  exert  influence  over  others.    Unfortunately,  that  is  exactly  what  well-­‐intentioned  social  marketers  are  hoping  they  will  do.        There  are  also  several  barriers  to  sharing.    The  most  important  is  potential  damage  to  reputation  or  relationships.    This  potential  damage  is  the  primary  limiting  factor  of  Facebook  sharing.    The  other  is  the  cost  of  time  and  effort,  which  is  fairly  minimal.    Studies  have  also  shown  that  users  tend  to  share  on  Facebook  in  order  to  maximize  expected  rewards.    Anyone  trying  to  maximize  sharing  should  focus  on  ensuring  the  three  motivations  above  are  met  and  the  potential  damage  to  a  user  is  limited.      Given  these  motivations,  what  factors  of  a  post  induce  users  to  share?    I  have  condensed  my  findings  into  5  rules  for  increasing  the  sharing  of  moralistic  behavior:    Rule  #1:  Segment  before  softening  A  primary  takeaway  from  Facebook  studies  is  that  different  people  have  different  comfort  levels  with  what  they  share  and  with  whom  they  share  it.    Where  possible,  identify  those  users  who  are  dedicated  and  ask  the  most  of  them.    The  following  four  rules  suggest  different  ways  to  make  sharing  more  appealing  to  constituents  who  are  not  otherwise  willing  to  share  their  beliefs  or  behaviors  more  broadly.    In  many  cases,  this  weakens  the  impact  of  the  message,  but  is  better  than  no  share  at  all.  If  somebody  always  signs  petitions,  but  never  shares  petitions  with  their  friends,  perhaps  a  lighter  touch  needs  to  be  applied.      Many,  more  complicated  segmenting  rules  can  be  applied,  but  this  first  one  is  the  most  impactful.    Rule  #2:  Highlight  social  success  and  normalcy        People  want  to  appear  socially  successful  and  normal.    Perceived  success  is  socially  attractive  and,  there  is  a  social  cost  to  being  different  from  your  audience.  Studies  (and  experience)  have  shown  that  we  are  prone  to  dislike  those  who  disagree  with  us,  so  avoiding  disagreement  is  socially  desirable.    There  is  also  a  widespread  defensive  backlash  against  any  action  or  speech  that  can  be  interpreted  as  judgmental  or  “holier  than  thou”.    For  these  reasons,  people  choose  to  avoid  potentially  controversial  topics,  and  this  acts  as  a  barrier  to  sharing.    Here  are  some  ways  to  overcome  these  barriers:    Tone  down  contraversy  Anyone  hoping  to  generate  a  politically  oriented  or  “moralistic”  message  should  make  an  effort  to  “defang”  the  message.    This  may  limit  the  intensity  of  the  message,  but  will  ensure  faster,  broader  sharing.    
  4. 4. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.4      To  illustrate  this  point,  consider  if  an  occupy  supporter  who  works  in  Silicon  Valley  would  prefer  to  share  with  coworkers  that  they  were  at:            this  rally       or  this  one?              Affiliate  with  socially  desirable  qualities  and  social  status  If  the  altruistic  behavior  is  not  consistent  with  social  norms  a  potential  strategy  is  to  affiliate  the  behavior  with  what  is  considered  normal  or  socially  desirable.    PETA  recently  attempted  this,  with  a  campaign  suggesting  that  vegan  men  are  studs  in  bed.    (Side  note:  In  line  with  recent  history,  PETA  also  managed  to  make  the  campaign  extremely  offensive).    Change  what  is  normal  Lastly,  it  can  be  helpful  to  temporarily  change  the  norms  by  manufacturing  a  fad.    Kony2012  did  this  effectively  through  their  creation  of  a  “twitter  bomb”—effectively  taking  over  the  twitter  trends  for  a  short  period.    
  5. 5. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.5        Rule  #3:  Communicate  indirectly  Nobody  writes  on  their  profile  “I  am  well-­‐rounded  and  popular.”  Instead  most  people  try  to  demonstrate  this  by  showing  rather  than  telling.    Studies  have  shown  that  pictures  and  testimonials  from  friends  are  far  more  persuasive  than  blatant  self-­‐promotion.    They  are  also  safer—potentially  avoiding  the  backlash  associated  with  self-­‐promotion  or  disagreement  with  a  message.    For  this  reason,  the  vast  majority  of  Facebook  disclosures  are  indirect,  through  pictures,  affiliations  and  second-­‐hand  quoting  or  sharing.      Unlike  conspicuous  consumption,  an  altruistic  act  is  itself  positive,  and  thus  requires  an  extra  layer  of  camouflage  to  avoid  backlash.      This  is  hard  for  a  donor  to  share:    This  is  easier:        Here  are  some  tips  for  camouflaging  the  message  to  help  potential  sharers  avoid  blatant  self-­‐promotion:  
  6. 6. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.6      Use  vague  messaging  In  the  same  way  that  achievements  are  currently  shared  on  Facebook,  altruistic  behaviors  or  qualities  should  be  reflected  indirectly  and  mirror  what  is  already  being  shared,  for  example:   • Share  an  article  about  people  who  made  transitions  to  low-­‐energy  lifestyles  with  the   comment,  “Inspiring”.     • Share  a  vegan  recipe  without  explicitly  saying  it  is  vegan   • ‘Like’  Habitat  for  Humanity  (Not  as  popular  as  Febreze,  but  still  indirect)   • Ask  the  question,  “Is  it  true  that  using  hot  water  in  your  washing  machine  is   unnecessary?”        Include  visual  cues  Like  LiveStrong  bracelets  and  pink  breast  cancer  ribbons,  online  visual  symbols  can  provide  the  perfect  balance  between  content  and  style.      Here  are  some  examples  that  work  online:   • Pictures  of  events  (volunteering,  voting,  etc.)   • Changing  your  profile  picture.    Two  recent  successful  examples  of  this  include  users   posting  pictures  wearing  a  hoodie  for  Travyon  Martin  and  blacking  out  their  profile   picture  to  protest  SOPA:      source:  http://www.blackoutsopa.org/    Divert  Attention  In  addition  to  creating  subtle  messages,  users  can  promote  altruistic  behavior  while  avoiding  social  backlash  by  crediting  others  for  their  altruism.            source:  causes.com  
  7. 7. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.7      One  can  applaud  the  efforts  of  friends  who  have  done  good  deeds,  publicly  ask  friends  to  do  favors  for  them,  or  publicly  invite  friends  to  share,  thereby  giving  friends  a  “free  pass”  to  promote  their  behavior.       Ask  your  friends  to  tell  about  a  time  they  helped   somebody  older  than  them…      A  successful  example  is  the  Wish  feature  on  Causes.com.  This  lets  users  ask  their  friends  to  publicly  donate  on  their  behalf  as  a  birthday  wish,  wedding  wish,  etc.          Removing  any  obvious  altruism  from  the  sharer’s  action  might  make  this  even  more  effective.  For  example:        Rule  #4:    Create  safe,  rewarding  spaces    There  is  a  strong  incentive  to  preach  to  the  choir.  People  are  much  more  likely  to  share  behavior  with  like-­‐minded  individuals.    This  has  a  lot  to  do  with  the  issues  of  normalcy  described  above.    A  study  of  an  environmental  app  of  Facebook  found  that  environmentally  conscious  users  were  much  more  likely  to  share  when  the  community  was  limited  to  environmentalists,  in  part  because  they  were  lauded  for  their  actions  rather  than  derided.  In  addition,  a  study  of  product  recommendations  found  that  strong  communities  were  found  to  lead  to  higher  rates  of  sharing  and  communication.      
  8. 8. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.8    Help  users  target    Organizations  would  benefit  from  suggesting  safe,  meaningful  sharing  recipients  for  individuals.    Most  mainstream  users  are  not  interested  in  joining  a  group  dedicated  to  a  cause.    Rather  than  manufacturing  a  community,  organizations  can  promote  sharing  with  connections  that  have  taken  similar  actions  or  sharing  with  close  connections.    Studies  show  that  close  connections  are  much  more  likely  to  have  sympathetic  viewpoints  AND  more  likely  to  be  impacted  by  a  users’  input.    Help  users  find  community  Organizations  should  give  users  the  option  of  inviting  their  connections  into  the  process,  or  finding  new  connections  with  similar  interests:           or        Because  sharing  norms  in  a  community  reinforces  norms  within  the  community  (important),  but  does  not  directly  spread  ideas  outside  a  community  (bad),  refer  to  Rule  #1.  Rule  #5:  Spice  up  what  is  being  shared  People  see  what  they  share  as  a  reflection  of  themselves.    For  this  reason,  they  curate  carefully  what  they  will  promote  and  not  promote—not  merely  on  the  basis  of  politics,  but  on  the  basis  of  perceived  utility  to  others.    They  ask  themselves,  “Is  this  content  important,  exciting,  digestible,  and  relevant  enough?”    I  recently  ran  a  sharing  experiment  among  classmates,  and  though  I  garnered  a  respectable  21%  share  rate  (among  108  respondents1),  here  were  the  most  typical  explanations  from  people  who  chose  not  to  share:     It  was  more  that  this  just  [didn’t]  seem  like  an  important  enough  thing  to  share...  Felt   others  would  think  spammy     I  only  post  REALLY  interesting/important  things  to  FB.  Didnt  seem  worth  it.                                                                                                                    1  All  colleagues  of  the  author  at  the  Berkeley  Haas  school  of  business  
  9. 9. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.9    Many,  many  others  have  studied  and  written  about  what  makes  content  viral,  so  I  won’t  harp  on  it  too  much2,  but  suffice  it  to  say  this  is  one  area  where  creativity  can  add  tremendous  value.        The  following  post  is  not  going  to  be  shared  or  reflect  well  on  the  user,  no  matter  how  correct  it  may  be  (see  Rule  #3:  Be  indirect):            Making  a  music  video,  however,  led  to  5  Million  views:      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulEMWj3sVA    In  fact,  in  the  space  of  morality  motivated  content  there  is  a  new  organization,  called  Upworthy,  which  takes  important  political  information  and  disguises  it  in  attention-­‐grabbing,  humorous,  and  easily  digestible  costumes.      Figure 1 From Upworthy.coms Facebook stream (https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy, accessed 6-11-12)                                                                                                                2  Here  are  some  from  Mashable  alone:    http://mashable.com/2012/04/11/viral-­‐video-­‐seedwell/  http://mashable.com/2010/10/19/viral-­‐video-­‐science/  http://mashable.com/2012/04/04/viral-­‐brand-­‐videos-­‐how-­‐to/    
  10. 10. Good  Deeds  go  Viral   Katz   p.10      In  doing  so,  they  copy  many  of  the  features  of  the  inane  viral  content  that  spreads  quickly  online.  The  byline  from  their  website  is:  “Make  your  friends  accidentally  think”.  See  Mashable’s  cover  of  their  launch  here.        Conclusion  Sharing  on  Facebook  represents  an  enormous  opportunity  for  good  behavior  to  spread,  but  given  the  dominant  motivations  and  norms  for  sharing,  altruistic  content  is  less  likely  to  be  shared.    But  it  doesn’t  have  to  be  this  way.      Though  Upworthy  is  new,  early  results  have  been  remarkable.    According  to  TechPresident,  in  just  one  week  Upworthy  generated  over  a  250,000  views  of  an  existing  Obama  campaign  ad  mostly  by  changing  the  headline.      And  making  content  more  entertaining  isn’t  the  only  way.    Organizations  should  experiment  with  the  paths  described  above  to  increase  the  sharing  of  altruistic  behaviors  on  Facebook.          The  solutions  proposed  in  this  paper  are  far  from  exhaustive;  as  with  many  organizational  challenges,  success  lies  in  paying  close  attention  to  the  motivations  and  needs  of  your  clients  and  developing  innovative  solutions  to  ensure  those  needs  are  met.        Jon  Katz  is  a  recent  MBA  graduate  from  the  Berkeley  Haas  School  of  Business.    Prior  to  that,  he  managed  strategy  and  development  of  online  marketing  tools  at  Yahoo.    LinkedIn  profile  http://www.linkedin.com/in/katzjon.    Contact:    jon_katz@mba.berkeley.edu            

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