Velocommuter.org: Social Marketing on the Internet
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The goal of this Master’s Project is to create a website that motivates Americans to ride a bicycle to work or school. Creation of the website includes application of Social Marketing, which is a strategy to promote a socially-desired behavior within a target population. The website velocommuter.org is created to encourage teens and young adults, who already ride bicycles for recreation, to also use their bikes for transportation. The website encourages visitors to make a pledge to try riding a bike to work or school. To create the most effective and influential website, a prescribed Social Marketing protocol was followed. Initial research guided selection of a specific audience and these individuals were targeted for surveys and a focus group. Information about attitudes gathered from the target audience is used to tailor website content, which directly addresses the target group’s reported barriers and benefits to biking to work. Using a Social Marketing approach for this Master’s Project has yielded a great deal of information about those who ride a bicycle to work or school. Intuitions and assumptions about this population are tested and accepted or rejected before costly mistakes can occur. I conclude that employing a social marketing strategy to guide the creation of a website to influence behavior is indeed a sound approach. Organizations hoping to make a realistic impact on people’s unsustainable behaviors might be wise to consider adopting a similar behavior change strategy. However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about how much of the target behavior is actually created as a result of the website, given the relatively short timeline of this project.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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