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The sustainable nonprofit: 'Influencing Young Americans to Act: 2021 Year in Review'

February 07, 2022

Youth_social_media_rawpixel_McKinseyWe just published our final research report for 2021 on the social issues, movements, and causes sparking interest in young Americans (ages 18-30) as reflected by their actions and who influenced their behaviors. We saw three major themes emerge over the course of the year:

a) Digital and out-of-home (OOH) experiences influence awareness and action.

b) Issues and actions remain consistent despite major moments.

c) Mental health is an ongoing concern.

Influence comes through digital and out of home (OOH) experiences

Even as restrictions imposed by the ongoing pandemic continued into 2021, so too did evidence that digital participation in social issues complements but does not replace offline engagement. Our 2021 research shows that calls to action still reach most young Americans through social media platforms, as continually evidenced in newer platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok; however, digital platforms are an “and” and not an “or” medium.

Young people are influenced digitally and in other ways, including what marketers refer to as OOH experiences, even in a pandemic. We also found that moments witnessed firsthand via experiential marketing, billboards, and other exposure influence this age group to take action.

Recommendation: Those working to address social issues must consider both digital and OOH when trying to influence this cohort to act in support of their specific causes. While influencers, content creators, and those with a platform inform and generate awareness, their efforts must be coupled with additional strategies (such as OOH and experiential marketing) to saturate the social issue space enough to influence desired behaviors....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

(Photo credit: rawpixel/McKinsey)

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