In a consumerist society, achieving sustainable behaviour change has proven difficult. These changes, however, are pivotal to ensure a more environmentally conscious future. Consumer behaviours that promote unsustainable practices, are deeply rooted in issues of economics, capitalism, and psychology.

For this reason, marketing specialists have flocked to social media, adopting a people-centered approach to the people-centered issue. When developing a behaviour change campaign using social media,  there are three key factors to consider: barriers, triggers, and motivators. Read on to find out how to create successful sustainable behaviour change through social media marketing.

1. Provide incentives

The concept of exchange is integral to achieving sustainable behaviour change. Social media utilises incentive-based marketing better than any other platform. Providing people with incentives is key to transforming the social structures which influence unsustainable practices. Over two-thirds of our greenhouse gas impacts and 85% of our water footprint is associated with consumer use; a fact that is supported by various companies, including Unilever.

‘Make it rewarding’ and ‘make it desirable,’ are two factors to consider when attempting to influence behaviour change through social media marketing. Making the behaviour change desirable, is predicated on the common use of social media as a means to project the desired image. Marketing sustainable practices as an aspirational self-image trait,is therefore incredibly effective in achieving behaviour change. Making the change rewarding, demonstrates the proof and payoff of engaging in environmentally conscious practices.

2. Make it simple and understood

Social media is an important communication and education tool. Creating sustainable behaviour change through social media marketing is therefore centered on providing relevant, informative and easy to read guides for consumers.

Using social media is a key way to reach a wide audience and explain the benefits of sustainable practices. This, in turn, raises awareness and encourages acceptance among communities who are sharing the same message. Social media is also a great way of showing sustainable behaviour change in action.

One of the main barriers to behaviour change is the fear of something being too difficult or expensive to implement. Seeing other people easily demonstrate these practices via social media, establishes convenience and confidence and the mentality of, “if he can do it, I can too!”.

3. Reinforce and remind

In order to effect permanent behaviour change, it is crucial to make sustainable behaviour a habit. People check their social media accounts many times a day. Providing constant updates and tips for incorporating sustainable practices into everyday lives, is key to remind and reinforce people of the benefits of environmentally conscious living.

4. Motivate

A core element of behaviour change is influencing the emotions. The personal motivation and ‘why’ that sits behind the goal, is the most important element in driving individuals to achieving long term change.

When something isn’t a natural behaviour, you need motivational triggers. Studies have found that there is nothing more motivating than being able to view your progress. Environmental awareness, gained through the tracking, is the first key shift that gets consumers thinking about the consequences of their behaviours.

Social media campaigns and corresponding monitoring apps, are therefore sweeping the sustainable behaviour marketing sphere. These monitoring apps can include; tracking the amount of energy you are saving on energy bills by turning off lights, or watching your greenhouse gas emissions reduce through implementing sustainable home practices.

Create sustainable communities

Sustainable behaviour change is social in nature. Individuals are heavily influenced by their peers and the behaviours of members of their social media community.

Everyone craves social connections, and social media marketing revolves around exploiting these connections and influences. Social media marketing can utilize these connections by creating learning communities, online forums and groups where people can share tips and tricks for a sustainable living.


Social media marketing and market research, can be powerful forces of behaviour change. Through carefully curated social media campaigns, savvy marketers and influences can encourage long term sustainable behaviour changes to protect our planet earth.

This post was written by Laura Costello. Laura is a recent graduate of a Bachelor of Law/International Relations at Latrobe University. She is passionate about the law, the power of social media, and the ability to translate her knowledge of both common and complex topics to readers across a variety of mediums, in a way that is easy to understand.

This post was submitted by a contributor. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on starting a business, productivity or life hacks with our audience.