A large part of Community-Based Social Marketing involves activating and increasing visibility around social norms. Social norming is nothing malicious or scary. Rather, it’s something that affects us each and everyday. Granted, we don’t like to admit the extent to which the behavior of others molds our own, but to understand human behavior, we cannot ignore the power of social norms.
A great example of social norming is recycling and curbside pick-up. As recycling was becoming more common practice, the presence of the distinguishable recycling bins helped build a norm. As you went outside on recycling day, the row of bins by your neighbors sends you cues: “This block recycles. You live on this block. You should probably recycle.” “Where is your bin? Don’t forget to set it out!”
Social norms tell us what is acceptable, and it allows us to know if we’re sitting well within the bounds of social acceptance. That being said, social norming is different for different groups. As Social Norms in Large and Small Networks describes, the size of group can have a real impact.