iSMA News Desk

Managed by Julie Hentz and Nathaly Aya

Have an article you would like to share? Contact [email protected]

An Overview of the Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit

By Gael O’Sullivan

Over 1,200 delegates attended the second Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit in Bali, Indonesia on April 16-20 this year, almost double the attendee count over the 2016 event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They gathered to discuss “Shifting Norms, Changing Behavior and Amplifying Voice: What Works?” The Bali audience was heavily represented by bilateral and multilateral donor-related stakeholders, especially those related to USAID and UNICEF, from a wide array of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, local government agencies, and independent consultants.  Notably absent were a focus on the social marketing field and a strong showing of private sector companies.  Sponsors included Sanofi, Population Services International (PSI), and EXP Social Marketing.

The Summit format included three tracks following the sub-themes of ‘What works’, ‘Making sense of now’, and ‘Voice and agenda setting’, which included a mix of plenary sessions, pre-formed panels, oral presentations, ‘comms talks’ (similar to mini TED talks), skill-building workshops, poster sessions, multimedia showcases, and an exhibit area with about 50 organizational exhibits.  There were also a number of auxiliary events such as workshops, technical meetings, and networking events. Over 1200 abstracts were received and over 300 reviewers selected the final presentations. 

Sessions dealt primarily with health topics, although the organizers continue to strive for more social and behavior change examples from other sectors such as agriculture, education, the environment, and peace/social justice. Much of the evidence-based best practices and literature in SBCC come from the health sector, given the long history of using behavioral science and social marketing principles to improve health behaviors.  

Some highlights were:

Behavioral Economics – Channing Jang of the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics gave an engaging and thought-provoking talk on the links between behavioral economics and social and behavior change communication.  He noted that behavioral economics has a ‘W.E.I.R.D.’ problem.  Behavioral economics models have been developed by ‘Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic’ nations, and in developing country contexts do not account for how variables like scarcity impact behavior and decision-making.

Social Norms – Several presenters noted the importance of distinguishing between injunctive and descriptive norms when designing behavior change strategies and interventions. Injunctive norms refer to people's beliefs about what ought to be done in a situation, and descriptive norms refer to beliefs about what is actually done by most others in one's social group.  

I moderated a panel session on ‘Social Networks and Social Norms”. A fascinating presentation amongst the four dealt with child marriage in India.  The comprehensive set of interventions used in this example included: life skills education, parent dialogues, teacher engagement, and counseling with boys and men.  Impact data showed statistically significant increases in the percentage of girls staying in school, girls marrying after the age of 18 and girls who said they felt confident they could convince their parents to delay marriage.  

Technology – Advances in technology are dramatically changing the SBCC space.  This abstract summarizes a particularly interesting presentation in a session on “Cutting Edge Research Methods”.

Digital Vaccines Based on Neuropsychology to Reduce the Risk of Lifestyle Diseases Bhargav Sri Prakash, FriendsLearn, Inc. 

"fooya!" is an mHealth intervention that is being developed as a vaccine candidate for prevention of Diabetes by FriendsLearn, which is a mission-driven technology startup. The product is an application based on Neuropscyhology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy that harnesses immersive mobile gaming technology. The intervention has been shown to achieve statistically significant outcomes in randomized controlled blinded clinical trials. A recent partnership between the co-authors and endocrinologists at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh aims to assess a specialized adaptation and extension of "fooya!". “Fooya!” has been developed to empower pediatric Type 1 diabetes patients with behavior design mechanisms that can reinforce strategies to better manage their condition. It is also used to augment standard of care protocols for treatment of newly diagnosed patients. 

Know Your Audience – Kamden Hoffman from Save the Children, Melanie Morrow from ICF, Inc. and I conducted an interactive, Skill-Building Workshop on ‘Knowing your Audience’.  The session is based on work recently published by the World Health Organization and other partners which examined the evidence for social, behavioral, and community engagement(SBCE) interventions that improve maternal and child health:;jsessionid=E60651BCF3E97E549235FA0823C31AB5?sequence=1

The session focused on: 

  • Understanding 10 implementation principles contributing to effective SBCE intervention approaches, emphasizing the first two principles related to formative research, audience analysis, and SBCE theories; 
  • Applying these principles using real world case studies; and 
  • Applying examples from the case studies to participants own work, discussing opportunities and challenges. 

Two of the ten implementation principles for SBCE included in the Evidence Map for SBCE interventions were highlighted: 1) Design programs based on formative and summative qualitative and quantitative evidence, and 2) Design programs based on a clear audience analysis, using social change or behavior change models and theories.

Declaration – At the conclusion of the Summit, Warren Feek of the Communication Initiative drafted a resolution on behalf of all the conference delegates to help guide the SBCC field going forward. Follow this link to read the draft statement and comments from the community:

Link to resources and presentations:

The University of South Florida, 25th Annual Social Marketing Conference
Written by Julie Hentz   

Registration is open for the 25th Social Marketing Conference, June 27-30th at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The event is a biennial gathering of professionals who use social marketing frameworks to address public health and environmental challenges. For those in the United States, the USF Social Marketing Conference provides proximity and brings recognized expertise from around the world to present on successful strategies for social and behavioral change. The event is broken into these dates/activities:

Training Academy: Wednesday & Thursday, June 27-28, 2018
Environmental Training Academy Track: Wednesday & Thursday, June 27-28, 2018
Advanced Training Academy: Thursday, June 28, 2018
Main Conference: Friday & Saturday, June 29-30, 2018

The Training academies have been well-received over the years as 2 days of intense, information-filled guidance in the social marketing approach, leaving the attendee with a firm understanding of terminology and practice.

Some of the featured speakers at this year’s conference are Dr. Akeem Ali, Director of Health, St. Helena Government, Dr. Timo Dietrich, lecturing in gamification and Digital Marketing at Griffith University in Australia, Bill Smith, EdD, PhD, President of Making Change4u, and Christine Domegan, PhD, Head of Marketing and Senior Lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway. These are a few among many other impressive presentations.

As always, the event takes place on the shores of the Gulf at the Sand Key Resort, a lovely spot to exchange best practices and catch up with other social marketers.

To participate and follow in the conversation:  #SMC2018
Conference overview:



Last Updated on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 01:01 PM
The Community Against Preventable Injuries (Preventable): “It’ll Never Happen to Me”

 by Ricardo D. LaGrange, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Injuries are a major public health problem in every country around the world, causing over 5 million deaths per year, or 16,000 deaths per day.[1] In British Columbia, Canada, where preventable injuries are the leading cause of death for residents between the ages of 1 and 44 and are responsible for over 2,000 deaths each year,[2] citizens are not immune to this problem. In addition to the human suffering, the treatment of preventable injuries is one of the largest burdens on the province, costing over $6 billion per year.
While accidents may seem inevitable and random, most injuries are predictable and avoidable.  In 2006, the British Columbia government made a commitment to safety and injury prevention in every aspect of provincial life by sponsoring the organization that eventually became the non-profit, The Community Against Preventable Injuries (a.k.a. Preventable).  After conducting 3 years of research and planning, this organization launched a highly effective social marketing campaign to raise awareness and transform societal attitudes towards reducing the human and financial burden of preventable injuries.   The campaign utilized a multi-year, multi-faceted approach with TV, Radio, print, social media and guerilla events that focused on the attitudes that cause serious preventable injuries in everyday settings.  Approximately 50% of the BC population (i.e., 2 million people) were reached weekly, and over 100 million media impressions were generated during a 6-month launch period that began in 2009.
Preventable was able to raise and sustain awareness of the issue and their brand by using different channels in an unexpected way.  Their efforts have made a difference in several tangible ways.  Those who have seen the campaign are significantly more likely to perceive injuries as preventable. Since launch, there has been a significant reduction in deaths by injuries among Preventable’s target audience age 25-55. Campaign monitoring shows a 4-5% positive shift in attitudes and behaviors towards preventable injuries across the entire BC population. Also, Preventable’s brand equity is strong, and is viewed by the public as caring, credible and trusted.
The iSMA Communications Team recently conducted an interview with Jennifer Smith, Senior Program Manager at Preventable, to gain more insight on the strategy and approach the organization uses to make “It’ll Never Happen to Me” such a success.

iSMA: Developing a brand strategy can be one of the most difficult, yet vital, steps in initiating a social marketing campaign.  What strategies did preventable rely upon to build a trusted injury prevention “brand’ that successfully reached the citizens of British Columbia?

Preventable: Injury is a hugely pervasive and complex issue. Thus it was absolutely essential for us to develop a clearly defined set of values that would guide our efforts towards achieving the overall mission: reducing the burden of preventable injuries in British Columbia by raising awareness, shifting attitudes and ultimately transforming behaviors. Engaging a network of public, private and not-for-profit partner organizations that share those values was the cornerstone of our strategy. It really does take a community to tackle an issue like injury!

iSMA: Exposing the public to the campaign though multiple channels and in unexpected ways helped to raise awareness to the issue and your brand.  What were some of the specific methods, messages or themes that you think resonated most with the public and why?

Preventable: The messaging is designed to trigger self-reflection and is illustrated by everyday risk scenarios that our audience can relate to instantly, such as using a ladder to put up Christmas lights, or speeding to avoid being late for work. Preventable also uses guerrilla stunts to generate media interest in the message and raise the profile of the brand. For example, Preventable dressed the statues in a beachside public park in larger-than-life PFDs, accompanied by the message, “Think drowning only happens to people who can’t swim? Seriously?” The fun element of the supersize lifejackets drew people to share the message through social media. The giant banana peel was also a big hit, with the message, “If you can see it coming, you can prevent it from happening.”

iSMA: What lead Preventable to incorporate a more nuanced strategy that avoided explicit messages about danger and how do you think this made a difference for your campaign?

Preventable: This approach followed directly from the stated preferences of our audience. During the formative phase of the campaign we heard from British Columbians, over and over, that they did not need (or want) to be told what to do to prevent injuries, that they would be repelled by content designed to shock or shame them into changing their behavior. The Preventable approach acknowledges our audience as intelligent adults who already know how to prevent injuries, but just need a reminder in the right time and place to exercise their judgment.

iSMA: Social marketing makes the distinction between having an initial impact and a lasting impact. The goal is not simply to enhance awareness or change attitudes towards an issue, it’s to motivate and empower people to take the desired behavior. “It’ll Never Happen to Me”, really seems to embrace this challenge.  How have you been able to engage the community in a way that will help sustain your efforts in the future?

Preventable: It’s true that social change takes time and sustaining momentum is a key challenge. When it comes to serious injuries, people believe “It’ll never happen to me.” The campaign taglines “Have a word with yourself” and “Seriously?” are a subtle call to action, as they challenge that assumption and prompt the audience to reconsider their intended behavior. People must feel motivated to change their behavior, and this is why Preventable believes that shifting attitudes is the essential first step in reducing serious injuries over the long term. Engaging a community of partners who are also committed to this long-term vision, and therefore willing to support the campaign and amplify the message through their own channels, has allowed Preventable to not only build the brand but to maintain our momentum year to year. The results of our efforts are clear – public surveys administered each year have seen encouraging improvement on measures of awareness, attitudes and behaviors related to serious preventable injuries.

iSMA: You’ve had tremendous success with “It’ll Never Happen to Me”.  What’s next for this campaign and Preventable?

Preventable: While we have seen encouraging trends in the campaign tracking data, as well as in injury hospitalizations and deaths, we continue to strive for further improvements. This will mean keeping the campaign platform fresh, innovative and engaging, while remaining recognizable and relatable, by continuing to engage in conversations with British Columbians about preventable injuries.

To find out more about Preventable and this social marketing campaign visit:

[1] World Health Organization. Violence, Injuries, and Disability: Biennial 2006–2007 Report. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2008

[2] Pike I, Scime G, Lafreniere K Preventable: a social marketing campaign to prevent injuries in British Columbia, Canada Injury Prevention 2012;18:A176.

SMANA Partnerships
“Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

SMANA cannot advance behavior change for social good alone, which is why we have been working hard to build partnerships, collaborate, and support others in their work; all in an effort to grow our community of practice. Some highlights include partnering with the Federal Communicators Network where we collaborated to hold a social marketing 101 webinar that reached more than 170 people, and working with the American Marketing Association’s Washington, DC and Charlottesville, VA chapters to hold successful, in-person social marketing 101 interactive seminars.

SMANA became a partner in the American Public Health Association’s, Year of Climate Change and Health campaign and attended the conference in Atlanta to represent SMANA at the invite-only Climate Change and Health Roundtable. Since this topic intersects both public health and the environment, having SMANA members work together on this issue is a win-win.

Most recently, SMANA worked with the Partnership for Food Safety to hold the first webinar in a series of four webinars about behavior change. Over 450 people joined the presentation to learn about community-based social marketing. If you have any partnership ideas to help grow and support SMANA, please email SMANA at [email protected]
Help Guide the Next Phase of your Professional Association

Two Opportunities to Get Involved in iSMA
by Patrick Cook, President

The Board of the iSMA is busy planning our annual general meeting (AGM), scheduled for March 6, 2018.

The AGM will be an opportunity for members of the iSMA to meet our current Board members, review our new business plan and constitution, and review our financial position. The AGM will also be an opportunity for you to hear more about the opportunities to contribute to the success of the iSMA and, in turn, the profession of social marketing.

We will be sending out a formal invitation to the AGM in the next couple of weeks, so look for it in your inbox. In the meantime, please mark your calendars for the March 6. Because our members are based around the world, we are holding the AGM at two times on March 6 – 5:00 pm GMT (12 pm EST) and 12 midnight GMT (7 pm EST).

Join the Board of iSMA

In a couple of weeks, we will open up nominations for new members to join our Board of Directors. You can nominate one of your fellow social marketers or self-nominate.

By being a member of our Board, you have an opportunity to network with some of the leading social marketers around the world, guide and shape how we move forward as a federation or alliance of regional social marketing associations, and provide direction to our current and new member services. Some of these services include our always-popular webinar series, our soon-to-be launched updated website, professional meetings and conferences, and other initiatives that advance the field of social marketing.

Being a Board member involves participation in at least 4 virtual meetings each year, our AGM, and helping with our workgroups and committees. According to our bylaws, Board members serve up to three years. For members elected in March, the term would begin April 1, 2018. All Board members can stand for election to our executive team (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer), and we are actively seeking a vice-president and treasurer. So please consider this great opportunity!

In addition to our AGM invitation, we will be sending out more information about the nomination and election process in the next couple of weeks.

I hope you will join us at the AGM and consider joining us on a more regular basis as a member of our Board. Please feel free to reach out to me, or any member of our current Board, if you have any questions, would like to hear more about serving as a Board member, or have thoughts and recommendations how your professional association can serve you better.

You can reach me at [email protected].

<< first < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > last >>

Page 4 of 25