Introducing Social Squared: Ogilvy’s Framework for Applying Behavior Change Theory to Digital and Social Media

Aug 28

Behavior Change Theory should underlie all health communications campaign planning. However, often communication professionals decide on a Tumblr or Pinterest account because it’s the “latest thing,” instead of having solid theory-based reasoning for engaging on a particular social or digital platform.

To ensure Ogilvy’s approach to digital and social media was always strategic, Ogilvy designed the Social Squared Framework and business offering to bring together the three key aspects of an effective behavior change program in social media:

  • Strategy-Based Theory Constructs
  • Audience Insights
  • Digital Solutions


Levers for Behavior Change

We identified theoretical constructs that are most applicable to digital and social media. Many behavior change theories are used in designing behavior change programs. They work for individual, community change and system change. We use these theories to underlie our social marketing strategies. Each of these theories is made up of constructs that point to ways to intervene in behavior.  Ogilvy identified the constructs that are best supported by social and digital media.  They include but are not limited to:

  • Cues to Action
  • Intentions to Act
  • Normative Perceptions/Subjective Norms
  • Observational Learning
  • Outcome Expectations
  • Reinforcement
  • Perceived Behavior Control
  • Perceived Severity
  • Perceived Susceptibility
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Spheres of Influence


Audience Insights

The Social Squared Framework puts a digital lens on audience insights. In additional to traditional research, we analyze the following questions using social media listening tools to answer them.

  • What digital platforms are our audiences using?
  • How often do they use them and for what purposes?
  • What is their behavior like on these platforms?
  • How can we capitalize on their current behaviors to achieve our goals?
  • How does our audience leverage search to find the information they need on our topic?
  • Is our audience discussing or searching for our issue, topic or client online?
  • What are they saying about it?
  • How can we fill a gap or need in the online landscape to further our behavior-change goals?


Digital Solutions

After bringing together our theory-based strategies and social insights, we then pick the most appropriate digital solutions or platforms to develop the communication program that helps move the behavior change needle. These solutions might include community creation and management on social sites, a mobile application, visual content creation, and more.

In additional, to this business offering and framework, Ogilvy has a Social Squared team, a group of digital specialists with a comprehensive offering of products and services that are at the forefront of digital trends.  We customize all our solutions to meet the unique needs of our clients and achieve their communications and behavior change goals.

How to Apply the Social Squared Framework

The Social Squared Framework is a great planning tool and here’s an example of how we used it for The Heart Truth® . (click to enlarge)


The Heart Truth® kicked off American Heart Month with the #MyHeart28 Challenge, an action-oriented program platform to continue to emphasize heart healthy behavior change in program messaging.  We used the Social Squared Framework to plan the campaign using our behavior change constructs and audience insights to come up with the most appropriate and strategic digital solutions (See graphic).  Facebook was used as the core platform for the challenge, as it is where our audience is most engaged around taking action. Throughout the month, fans accepted the daily challenges and shared how they were making changes for a healthy heart and reducing heart disease risk in 2014. This small-step approach included actions for making heart healthy lifestyle changes including increasing physical activity, and stress management, smoking cessation, blood pressure and cholesterol control, and healthy eating.

The Results

  • #MyHeart28 Challenge created more than 7,550 Facebook actions (e.g., likes, shares) and engaged more than 750 unique Twitter followers,which generated 9.5 million impressions.
  • Throughout the #MyHeart28 Challenge, the daily posts received a cumulative 447 comments, 5,404 likes, and 1,703 shares.
  • The Heart Truth’s® Pinterest board received 1,527 new followers,567 repins, 32 likes, and 6 comments during the month of February.
  • Facebook fans expressed enthusiasm, posed and answered questions, offered tips, and shared the actions they took to lower their risk for heart disease during the #MyHeart28 Challenge.
  • The Heart Truth® engaged bloggers to be Ambassadors for the challenge further solidifying social norming. As an Ambassador, the blogger added to that day’s social content, posted quotes and advice on Twitter, and shared photos/posts on Facebook. Combined, the Challenge Day Ambassadors had over 5,000 unique monthly visitors, 6,000 Twitter followers, 2,000 Facebook fans, and 1,500 Pinterest followers.
  • We also had qualitative data in the comments showing that people were following along and taking the action recommended in our challenge.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 3:07 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Ogilvy Washington, Social Marketing, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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