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Prompting Behaviour Change: learning from insights

25 October 2019

In the fourth and final part of our series of articles looking at Time to Change’s approach to Behaviour Change campaigning, social marketing manager Lauren talks about learning from insights.

Designed to help readers feel more informed when feeding their own insights and evaluation learnings into their campaign strategies, the other articles in this series look at:

Insights can be invaluable. So how do we use behaviour change insights to inform short and long-term strategy? Here are our tips:

Choose a model

There are a lot of behaviour change models out there – our starting point for deciding which models to choose was to dig deep into what our audience’s actual behaviour looked like.

For us, as behaviour change for our audience was slow and iterative we decided to use Prochaska (aka the Transtheoretical Model) which looks at the different stages of change. Our coldest target audience is in the first stages of precontemplation/ contemplation, so our campaign must raise awareness about the issue and get them to understand that mental health is in their world. Using this model is a very useful way of tracking progress over time, and being tactical about which behaviours to prioritise. The aim is to move them through the stages – using different content and channels. Over the course of campaigns we’ve moved from getting men to understand that they have a role in being there for mates to prompting with actions.

Behaviour change model

The second model we use is called COM-B which looks at whether people have the Capability, Opportunity and Motivation to change behaviour. We match statements in our tracking surveys to elements of COM-B so we can see which areas we need to dial up or change to encourage men to step in and help their mate. For both our cold and engaged audiences, the key levers to shift behaviour are psychological capability and social opportunity – emphasising how important it is to step in and help their friend and giving them the confidence to act. For our engaged men it’s important to consider maintenance (keeping them engaged) over time.

The COM-B model of behaviour

Find the story

This is a poetic way of saying that you need to make sense of all the numbers and charts.

Evaluating the impact of a behaviour change campaign can lead to HUGE amounts of data, some of which is surprising, some of which is contradictory. To really draw on insights you’ve gained and make them useful you need to pull out the ones that matter – insights that evidence campaign success and insights that evidence a need for a different approach. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter is crucial if you want to turn data into lessons learned and implemented . Which content didn’t perform so well? What are the patterns in the best performing elements of the campaign? Are there specific asks or language that are really resonating?

Be brief

At TTC we try to summarise all of the most useful insights onto one A4 sheet and create a narrative that helps make sense of the findings. For example, we might discover that humour has a more positive impact on campaign recollection and brand awareness than ‘serious’ content, but that ‘serious’ content has a greater impact on behaviour change. As such, we know to tweak the tone of future content depending on its objective. By highlighting these key insights in one place we make it easier for our team to refer to them and, even more importantly, easier for other teams and partners to take on our learnings.

Believe the data, even if it’s not what you expected (or wanted)

This might be an obvious one, but it’s easy to cherry-pick the insights you like and conveniently miss the ones you don’t. It may be that your team really love a campaign idea and work hard to get it off the ground, but if evaluation shows minimal behaviour change then it might be time to try something else (even if it got loads of press coverage). Similarly if something that you or senior management don’t like is demonstrably successful, stick with it. It can be useful to remind those in leadership that they probably aren’t the target audience.

Be fluid with messaging

Behaviour change campaigns can be complicated to measure as so many other factors contribute to changes in public attitude and behaviour. At Time to Change we see significant fluctuation in mental health awareness if, for example, there has been a high profile news story or another mental health charity gets publicity. Happily, we also see the impact of our own work and the need to keep moving people along the behaviour change curve. As a result we need to be ready to rework our campaign messaging depending on the current ‘mood’ of the audience. Our objective is always the same – to encourage more men to step in and help a friend they think is struggling – but the messaging evolves with society. Only a few years ago our main challenge was to get men to believe mental illness existed, now our focus is giving them practical tips and the confidence to act.

Utilise the evidence of your success

One of the hardest things for any charity to demonstrate is impact. At TTC we are incredibly proud of the stats we have that evidence the change we make. For example, 76% of our male target audience say that they have either stepped in or thought about stepping in to help a friend as a result of our 2018 campaign. We shout about our behaviour change results any chance we get, and they are especially useful when applying for new funding streams, looking for partnerships, and selling innovative ideas to leadership. It’s a good idea to have all of your best stats in one, super sharable place, like a PDF of infographics or an animated video on the website.

Time to Change is a growing movement of people who want to change how we all think and act about mental health. We use behaviour change strategy, deep audience insight and creative marketing to fight stigma. This is not an easy task. Attitudes in many groups we work with are entrenched.

One in four of us experience a mental health problem in any year. But despite the progress that has been made, talking about it is not everyday and ordinary. By talking to people with lived experience we know that stigma and discrimination are the biggest issues we face – damaging recovery, well-being and affecting every area of life.

Lauren Gasser

social marketing manager, Time to Change

Lauren is senior social marketing manager at Time to Change and has a background in behaviour change campaigning and charity communications. In her spare time she's a yoga teacher and blogger with a focus on mental health.