Social influence drives people to quit smokingTweet
In another example of how we make decisions as members of a social network versus as isolated individuals, the New York Times ran a story titled "Study Finds Big Social Factor in Quitting Smoking" on Friday that discussed research showing that people quit smoking in groups. Rather than individuals stopping smoking one person at a time, three friends would quit all at once.
The implications of this are that it is more important to target groups rather than individuals when it comes to encouraging people to quit. Similar results were found in the case of the spread of obesity. The study showed that smokers clustered in groups of three. Over the years the number of smokers declined but the clusters remained the same in size showing that people were stopping in groups.
Interestingly, the study showed that education played a role. The more educated people were, the more highly influenced they were by their friends and the more likely they were influencing their friends in turn. A friend quitting was more powerful than a sibling quitting. Co-workers only had influence in small firms where everyone knew each other.
Social Influence takes many different forms as does marketing too. This is a case where anti-smoking organizations should really harness social influence marketing. It also goes to show that we invariably are more influenced by our social networks than we realize. That influence is not a bad thing - it just means that marketers need to target the network and not the isolated individuals.
What's also interesting is that no major marketing or social media blog referred to this story. It appears that in the social media domain a lot of practitioners still do not make the link between social media and social influence. Is that a missed opportunity? Leading blogs like Marketing Roadmaps, Trendspotting Blog, and Buzz Networker take note :-)
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