4 Behavioral Change Strategies for a Healthy Routine

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In the past few years, I have taken a huge interest in Behavioral Economics, and have read some great books related to the topic such as the Freakonomics series, Predictably Irrational, and Thinking Fast and Slow, as well as listen to podcasts such as Freakonomics Radio and Hidden Brain.

A big part of my interest in learning about Behavioral Economics is not just to implement it in my marketing and research career, but in my personal life, especially for goal attainment. I hope this is something you also share, and that we can help each other on this journey. So if you came here for answers, you may leave with more questions!

I have been doing research for a couple of years (on and off) on how to set goals for myself, and commit to achieving them. Most people share the same common goals of eating healthy, getting fit/being more active, etc. That's also what I am focusing on, not because it is a social trend, but because it's what's missing from my life. I mostly lack discipline and routine because my life has no specific structure because for many years I've had flexible jobs that involve frequent traveling…. I love the freedom and flexibility, which just adds to my laziness and lack of discipline or motivation to do anything else haha

My habitual routine involves:

  • Sitting in front of the TV for most of the day, which I really love, especially when I can find something that really stimulates my brain and gets me thinking, or at least entertains me.

  • Spending hours on my smartphone, which I don't necessarily consider a waste of time because I focus on consuming useful articles related to my work/life, and maintaining social connections which is important since I live alone.

  • While I now maintain an overall healthy diet at home, I tend to indulge on unhealthy food when traveling since I have less control of what's around to eat, and I also tend to hunt for good food that isn’t available in my home town haha. This shouldn’t be much of a problem if I didn’t travel so often!

Every now and then, I muster the motivation and willpower, which research show aren't sustainable, to stick to a balanced routine of healthy food and workout... But that doesn't last for long before I switch back to my regular more natural habits.

Now I am trying to kickstart the healthy routine again, part of which is taking tje Behavioral Economics in Action course on edx to do something useful during the day apart from watching TV.

In the first unit, we learnt about 4 strategies for behavior change, that can be implemented to make changes on people’s behavior in the policy and welfare world, as well as business world… You can learn about them in the video below from the course, which is highly recommended!

So now I am thinking: How can I use these strategies to help me build a healthy routine?

This is what I got so far:

  1. Restriction on choices: Easiest implementation starts with only buying healthy food for home; which I've been doing for a long while. But I still need to control my portions (even healthy food in big portions isn't good for health!). Also, I worked on restricting TV and mobile use past 11 pm, where I switch to reading or podcast listening. What can I do further? Have you tried something that worked for you? Any ideas?

  2. Monetary incentives: Not sure I can give myself money to commit to exercising lol but perhaps if I commit to paying money to a gym/coach, then I can go more often?! I don't see that working out unless the payment is high enough that it would be a legitimate loss. Or maybe incentives can be other than monetary? Like in the form of cake that I earn as a reward for achieving milestones lol What do you think?

  3. Information and persuasion: Information is perhaps the only area where I've done the most work; I'm more of a mental/pensive than a physical/active person. So while I enjoy gathering useful information, researching, analyzing, etc. It doesn't always lead to persuasion to take action or sustain it! Am I simply just not accessing the "right" information that will persuade me to commit to action? What does research say about this?

  4. Nudging: This seems like the most promising technique, using “positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals”, already with many studies showing its success, and entire top-selling books dedicated to it. It can be in the form of "reminders" that I set for myself to perform certain activities. Another possibility is to make changes to my home environment to add cues for certain habits, like putting fruits in a visible/reachable place to increase consumption. I wonder what kind of nudges would work on getting me to be more active... Even a simple few exercise routines that require no equipment or preparation don't seem to come naturally to me, and feel like they need to be forced/nudged. What nudges do you think would work? Anything you've personally tried or think of trying?

I would like to hear your opinions, thoughts, and anecdotes based on personal experience, as well as any interesting research tidbits that you might have come across, in the comments. Let's use this opportunity to make real sustainable change!

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Edtech Trends

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“Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational"… a quote that quite supports the use of technology in education. Thus, there is no question as to whether technology belongs in education. The question is what and how!

Year on year, educational technology (edtech) crosses decades in the world of innovation, with more technologies springing that find their way into the classroom and driving some of the latest trends in edtech, such as:

  • Learning Management Systems which have become the embodiment of convenient learning and teaching.
  • High quality contents that are accessed with technical devices and should be intelligible enough to bring change in the world of education.
  • Immersive learning through various technologies such as virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality that can bring learning to life.
  • Online social networking and social media tools such as discussions, comments, communication and feedback that can foster group studying and bonding.
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Even with their increasing popularity in education, such technologies still face several challenges such as:

  • A hesitation to change and adopt new tech, as it often requires a change in the teaching methods and standards.
  • A cost crunch as these new educational technologies often cost money that institutions don’t have adequate funds for.
  • Too many choices to handle with high competition driven by new startups and companies making it difficult to be noticeable.

These challenges, and many more, are addressed in the STIMEY project head on, to capitalize on edtech in STEM learning. Being developed based on a well-researched pedagogical framework geared towards STEM education, STIMEY ensures that the technologies adopted in its learning environment are designed for educational purposes and in support of teaching and learning, rather than merely being adapted in education for being trendy. Moreover, the learning environment is being built based on co-participatory design principles, with teachers, students, parents, organizations coming together with our experts and researchers, ensuring the best fit of technologies based on their needs, thus they’re less likely to resist the change.

The integration of several technologies such as robots, radio, and social media in a web-based learning platform with different capabilities also come at no cost to the users, giving institutions the ability to exploit their full potential. Additionally, the platform is open-access, giving institutions as well as individuals also the opportunity to add their own content, link their resources, and promote their edtech products and services in support of the users’ learning and teaching needs.

Thus, we’ve made it our mission in STIMEY to stay on top of trends while addressing their challenges, but we’d still like to hear from you in the comments of what other trends and challenges you think we should keep our eye on!

For collaborations and active participation in the project, reach out to us.

References:

https://edtechtimes.com/2017/09/22/xr-education-immersive-technology-in-education-today/

https://elearningindustry.com/6-edtech-trends-watch-2017

https://elearningindustry.com/edtech-trends-and-challenges-in-2017

http://www.thinkmind.org/index.php?view=article&articleid=aict_2017_4_30_10061 

Goody's Social Media with Nouf AlQethami


Nouf AlQethami was recruited as a Community Manager by Goody back in 2010, when that position was still very new & unfamiliar in the region. In 2 years, her job responsibilities grew with the rise of social media marketing, to become in charge of all of Goody’s digital activities.

In her role, she focuses on achieving Goody’s goals of building brand loyalty among existing customers, raising and increasing awareness about the company’s large variety of products,and building a community that maintains a good level of engagement among its target audience which is Saudi females, between 20 and 45, single and married, who are cooking enthusiasts. Based on the brand’s goals and target audience, she developed the social media strategy     after brainstorming with the brand manager and marketing department, researching competitors and studying the Saudi market. After thorough assessment, she  concluded that Saudi females extensively search for recipes from expert chefs in the region and also from peers in their networks, which were mostly forums. The young females also thought of Goody as a “mommy” brand, something that moms used that is ancient and not modern. Therefore, there was a need  for a local online community that can meet these females’ requirements, and building a community using social networking sites would help the brand communicate with the young females and create a “trendier” image.

 She realized that building a community will take a lot of time, effort and resources, and the company was willing to invest and commit to that. The first     step in building the community was opening a Facebook Group, in March 2011, as a small-scale experiment, then in January 2012, a full-fledged Facebook Page     was launched. A twitter account was also launched earlier in November 2010 but was only activated this past year. The brand’s youtube channel was also     created in September 2010, but only activated about a year ago. Nouf stated that, due to lack of knowledge in those times, it was important to just join     these social networks, listen and experiment until she develops a clear content and communication strategy. She continues to experiment with social media as she adds relevant new and upcoming social networking sites into the mix, such as Instagram.

 The brand had ready content since it was already maintaining an offline cooking magazine as well as a website filled with local recipes; the website was     recently remodeled to be “social”, and the content was used to build conversations and engage with the target audience around what recipes they like and     use or like to learn, and drive them to the website’s community. The brand focused then on creating valuable content that encourages the audience to engage     with it and share it, rather than on pushing for product promotion in a direct and uninteresting way. The content strategy was also supported with a     communication strategy that aimed to enable cooking enthusiasts, and support them by giving them space to showcase their cooking skills in The Goody     Kitchen community, to turn them into brand evangelists. It’s important to note that the brand uses only the Arabic language in its content and to  communicate with its target audience.

Nouf has utilized a mix of tactics to achieve the brand’s goals, ranging from online to offline. She leveraged the Goody Cooking Academy, which offers  cooking enthusiasts 5 free cooking courses, to fuel content as well as connect with its audience on a more personal level and reward it. She also maintains  regular social media competitions on Goody Kitchen’s Facebook Page, as well as third-party platforms such as Yahoo! Maktoob,with prizes ranging from     electronic devices, to Goody products, or a feature/ shout-out in the brand’s new magazine “The Goody Kitchen”, which is a very good example of integration  between traditional and digital media. Nouf believes that such integration is very important in the Saudi market because there is a big percentage of the     brand’s target audience, mostly the older ones, who do not use social networking sites or have preference for traditional mass media such as newspapers and     magazines. She believes that having digital and traditional media support each other is a good way to convert the offline audience to online, and to give  the online audience something tangible they can keep and value.

Nouf has also used some one-off tactics to increase fans/followers growth and engagement, such as product placement of Goody’s fava beans in an episode of a popular Saudi youtube show called “Masameer”, which targeted young males who are the main buyers of this product. This tactic did not only just achieve     the best results in terms of views, likes and virality, seen below, but it has also created a big buzz in the Saudi online population on the topic of  product placement in Youtube show, i.e. the commercialization of social shows. After the success of this tactic, she was encouraged to also test it on Twitter by getting sponsored tweets from HawaaWorld, the largest community of Saudi females online, and WAM (Women Appreciation Month) that is organized by femi9, the fashion brand. These tactics are great in increasing reach; however, when it comes to increasing engagement, Goody Kitchen’s own Youtube Videos  with Chef Sumaya and featuring fans’ own recipes are the most engaging.
 

When it came to measuring the results, Nouf translated its brand goals into metrics: brand awareness meant reach and fans/followers growth, brand loyalty and community building meant engagement, and social2web conversion meant traffic. To measure these metrics, she used tools such as Facebook Pages  Insights, Klout.com for Twitter, and GoogleAnalytics,   and   used  competitors such as   Shahiya.com,  YumYummy.com   and SahawHana.com for benchmarking.

This post is part of my MBA thesis, titled "Leveraging Social Media Marketing in Food and FMCG Industry in Saudi Arabia". To stay updated with the rest of the thesis, subscribe to my blog!

Munch Bakery's Social Media with Baker Sartawi

Baker Sartawi is an ex-creative director who has worked for advertising agencies for 12 years, then in 2009, decided to quit advertising and start his own company “Brandwill” that specializes in digital and social media marketing. As the co-founder and digital strategist in Brandwill, he manages many clients such as Munch Bakery, Activia, Mollinex and recently Memories Biscuits, with the support of his team.nHis approach in handling brands’ digital marketing is very top-level, as his strategy is comprised of 3 axis: Web (a brand’s own website) + Online (Third-party web portals and blogs) + Social (One-to-one communication channels).

He believes that having a social website is key in any social media strategy, because the website is the only platform that a brand can own in its social media mix, while any pages and accounts created on social networks, and the data of the fans/followers on them, can not be owned. Therefore, before he develops a brand’s strategy, he conducts a digital brand assessment to verify if the brand has an existing website and then he tests its functionality, and analyze its sociability, SEO strategy, technicality and background data.

Then, he develops a social media strategy, that is comprised of a technical strategy and a content strategy, that has the goal of migrating fans/followers from social networks to the brand’s website where he can build a database of loyal customers.nThe technical strategy explores and determines what social networks and channels to use, how to integrate them, what posts goes where, and includes the communication policies and measurement parameters. A part of the technical strategy as well, he designs data centers for the brand to host content and store customer data in a centralized database which he believes is key in the technical success. For example, the application that is developed for Memories Biscuits’ website is the same that will be deployed on its Facebook Page, allowing the app to redirect fans from Facebook to the website to gather insights in one database without duplication.

As for the content strategy, he believes that it is where creativity comes, where he studies if the brand is commercial or social by nature, and develops content that gives the target audience a good reason to “like” a brand’s page. He studies the brand’s products and services to find a common ground between the brand and its target audience that is not commercially-related, i.e. social, to fuel content that can drive them from social networks to the website (Social2web). He stated Munch Bakery as a successful example, saying that it is an emotional and colorful brand, that makes it easier to connect with its target audience using content that is visually appealing and engaging on a personal level; however, they are still in the process of redesigning Munch’s website to make it web 2.0 friendly. The essence of Munch Bakery’s strategy that Baker aims to achieve is “The Munch Obsession”, which communicates the message “We are cake bakers because we love it” through creative content and product display.

To reach Munch Bakery’s goal, Baker employs various tactics, the most successful of which was the sponsorship of Esh Elly episode. Esh Elly is a very popular Youtube show in Saudi Arabia, whose episodes get millions of views within days of their release. In exchange of the sponsorship on Youtube, Munch Bakery also got the chance to have one sponsored post on Esh Elly’s Facebook Page and one sponsored tweet on their twitter account. Baker decided to take advantage of that by making new creative content which was a video of the baking of a cake made for Badr Saleh on his birthday that was designed with his face on it. In 2 days of uploading the video on Facebook Videos, 1’500 fans were converted from Esh Elly’s page organically, and the video had over 400 share, 300 likes and 500 comments on Facebook, and was retweeted about 80 times on Twitter. The video also went viral as an anonymous fan re-uploaded the video on youtube, which, alone, go over 120’000 views. However, Esh Elly’s sponsorship, although highly successful, is very costly. He advises to use such sponsorships only to “test the waters” and increase awareness sharply to drive more people to a brand’s pages where it can engage them using cost-effective content. A great example of that, he shared, is using the Questions feature on Facebook to ask Munch Bakery’s fans what flavor they would like them to bake for Ramadan. The question resulted in over 6’000 votes, but what’s more valuable is that the brand gained really useful insights on new product ideas (what flavors their customers would buy), and it also made their customers feel valued because their opinions matter.

Baker measures the success of his strategy by setting Key Performance Indicators according to brand goals and using various analytics platforms such as Hootsuite Analytics, and Klout. He also uses Hootsuite for listening, moderation and community management. Although he measures audience growth rate and engagement rate, he feels that the best KPI of social media is “virality” as it is a good measure of how great the content is based on how many shared it to their own networks.

This post is part of my MBA thesis, titled "Leveraging Social Media Marketing in Food and FMCG Industry in Saudi Arabia". To stay updated with the rest of the thesis, subscribe to my blog!

Preview of: Leveraging Social Media Marketing in Food & FMCG Industry in Saudi Arabia

After a long research, which you would have probably heard me complain about keeping me up all night for a month, it's finally done!

I'm still working on editing and perfecting the thesis, but to not keep you any longer, I published a preview of the abstract and table of content.

Although the thesis, as the title implies, focuses on social media marketing for Food and FMCG brands in Saudi Arabia, it provides a universal framework for building a social media strategy for most brands in any market.

The thesis also includes references to various links and resources that form a great reading list necessary for you in building your own customized strategy and understanding of social media marketing and communications.

And of course I'll be here to answer your questions or welcome your feedback, so go ahead and start by going through the preview below and leaving me a comment afterwards. 

Don't forget to subscribe to my blog to stay updated once I start publishing the full thesis!