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How to introduce social innovations

Suppose you want to introduce a separate waste collection system in the community or call for switching to the use of alternative energy sources for street lighting. What is important to remember in order to achieve success?
A study on the reasons for the introduction of energy-saving technologies in California has shown that the only real reason for success is social norms (i.e. not informing about the consequences or monetary incentives). It is important to focus not on awareness of the norm, but on its support at the local level. How to achieve it?
Source: Gustavo Quepón для Unsplash
Why are social connections so important?

First of all, it should be remembered that the adoption of a new norm of behavior occurs on the basis of the norm of this social group, i.e. validation (acceptance of a new one) occurs through social groups.

There are social connections within the group. They can be weak and strong.

Connections can arise both between individuals and communities.

Weak connections are well suited for spreading memes, i.e. they are emotional, exciting. Strong - determine adherence to laws, norms of behavior in society. They assume a variety of sources. As a rule, weak connections are formed with relevant, i.e. people similar to us, whereas strong connections (determining our behavior) arise with people who are not like us.

The strength of weak links lies in the fact that they ensure the dissemination of information (coverage). Strong connections - ensure acceptance of changes (form the norm).

Weak connections have a relatively high information transfer rate. It is important to remember that "information" is not equal to "norm". Therefore, it is important to remember that social networks only reflect real social connections, but do not create events in reality (such as revolutions, for example). Therefore, a blogger is 1 person from the group (our "circle"), and not 100% of the group. Bloggers and influencers cannot create trends, but they can support and prolong their popularity.

Changes are accepted when the share (not the number) in the group exceeds a certain threshold. Social changes will occur if 25% accept the new norm - the rest will follow suit.

Therefore, changes (adoption of a new one) occur faster in small groups. At the same time, the larger the social group, the more conservative it is.

Social atomicity increases readiness for change. The more a person is lonely and the community is narrower, the more they are influenced.

People with big connections are less receptive to new things (executives, stars, bloggers). The stronger the social ties, the greater the responsibility. This generates cooperation.

For the adoption of a new norm, social proof is necessary, i.e. at least one contact with a follower of a new idea.

Social innovations always have "agents of implementation" (as a rule, they are innovators and previously the majority), but for the adoption of new norms, "social redundancy", i.e. frequency, is much more important: in other words, how many people from the "inner circle" accepted the innovation and told about it. Innovation should be visible to everyone in the community: what exactly is the innovation and who accepted it - remember how Netflix paid for signs in Hollywood.

Weak ties differ from strong ones in the frequency of innovation use: one-time versus multiple, respectively.
Which change agents are most effective?

Bloggers and opinion leaders work the worst . Neighbors and those who are geographically close to us are already working much better. But the network architecture of connections is the most effective. The best agents of change are outsiders, i.e. those who are usually not listened to, therefore they consider weak.

Activists are carriers of change - they must be adamant.
Source: Tom Roberts для Unsplash
How to evoke the solidarity of strangers?

To assign fictitious group identities, because we are characterized by hemophilia - the desire for our own kind, it is much easier to create the illusion of community.

Infection of a new norm between communities occurs when it has already been adopted in one of them. Until the community accepts the norm, it cannot "infect" other communities. Therefore, initially the norm should acquire stability within the maximum "narrow" group - this will provide a quick start to the spread of changes.
You can read more about this in Damon Centola's book "The Laws of Social Contagion. 7 strategies for changing public opinion and behavior".

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