Linking Your Issues to Global Social Systems at WSMC '17

What's your issue? How does it fit within the bigger picture? Whatever cause you are tackling, if you take a systems approach you can likely leverage greater results. That was a primary theme of the "World Social Marketing Conference 2017," where approximately 500 change makers convened in Washington DC to discuss the best contemporary methods to improve global and local social conditions -- our collective issues. 
Takeaways to put into practice starting today
1. Remember, it's about people. We tend to get so caught up in our individual topics or cause issues, sometimes we forget our broader purpose -- to help humans reach their highest potential and live the best quality of life possible. If our vision is to help people live free of social ills (disease, poverty, injustice) then we need to use people-centered approaches to develop human rights and human potential. Let's start by increasing our understanding of others' perspectives rather than simply promoting our perceived solutions.
2. Apply systems thinking: We can elevate our social marketing approaches by applying systems thinking. From the conference opening to the keynote speech by MIT professor John Sterman, we were urged to think of how each action we take affects other aspects of development. Rescue SCG (the primary conference sponsor) totally crushed it by encouraging organizations to create synergies at the strategic level and segment populations at the tactical level. Working alone, our budgets are typically too small and our timelines too short to be effective. Yet working together and taking the long view, we have enough touch points to make a significant difference. 
3. Use targeted behavioral strategies: Emphasize reaching specific peer groups as an antidote to "general population" strategies, which ultimately have very little relevance to people's lives. By creating content that appeals to specific groups of people, who have specific interests, we'll find practical, usable solutions to break through clutter in an age of information overload. Focus on creating actual behavior change, not simply "awareness." 
4. Rethink your digital direction: We've long heard the message to not to get caught up following "shiny objects," but even when we're developing comprehensive campaigns we need to remember all we are asking people to do... click this, go here, download that... it's too much! Look for ways to simplify the user experience. Build on existing platforms rather than reinventing the wheel with each new initiative.
5. Be savvy about engagement: Should you fight against seeming injustices or urge strategic partnerships? Think about what will do the most good for the most people, not just your immediate issue. This is an area where we need to think carefully about which actions (policies, activist stances, marketing approaches) will take humanity farther, fastest. 
6. Watch your language: The words we use matter. Update your vocabulary to reflect the vernacular of today's marketing tools and approaches. Attend webinars and professional development opportunities and conferences of our field, but also other fields such as behavioral economics and commercial marketing. 
7. Do what works: Focus on developing and sharing effective approaches to trigger broad-scale positive change. We have huge successes to share, backed by evidence. For an example, see "Tips from Former Smokers". Do what works to move the needle on behavior change. Then tell your stories. We're a growing field of dedicated professionals who are making a difference. Let's bring it to scale. Whatever we call it, we're all working toward the same end goal -- tapping into human potential for the greater good. 
How does your work contribute to the bigger picture? Reach out via Instagram + Twitter.
 - HBR



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