Advancing Global Evidence for Local Practice
"Evidence-based insights is widely regarded as the crème de la crème of strategic thinking for many governments, businesses and nonprofit organisations across the world. This idea is grounded in proposing programmes, products and services based on established scientific evidence of what works. As we embrace scientific methods in our strategy, we ought to consider the limitations of advancing a one-size fits all approach"
One of the most common insights from social psychology is the idea of ‘social proof’. The term, coined by Prof. Robert Cialdini, suggests that people are more likely to engage in a specific behaviour if they can see that people are doing it.
When Wikipedia tested this message in their fundraising banner,
“... fewer than 1% of readers give”,
they violated the global evidence of positive social proof. By highlighting that less than 1% give (and in some instances “... less than 99% don’t give”) in their messaging, they were doing the exact opposite. The insight from social proofing suggests that they were normalising the fact that most people don’t donate which in turn would reduce donation rates.
Many called for Wikipedia to remove this immediately or took to social media to express their grievances with this strategy. But it turns out, their online fundraising team was aware of this evidence-based insight and deliberately decided to test the opposite message on multiple occasions. They found every time they removed this message, their donation rates dropped significantly. The team hypothesised that there must be something in the localised donation context that alters the global rules of social proofing.
Rather blindly following global insights and expecting behaviour change to follow, we need to stress-test our strategies with our audiences for better outcomes. Read the full article by downloading the Diversifi Annual Compendium 2020.