Shorebird Disturbance Reduction Toolkit

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Social Diffusion

Social diffusion is the process in which ideas are spread through conversations between people who trust each other or people who have similar interests and values. When using social diffusion, it is important to spread messages through a trusted or respected person in a community.

Guidelines for Using Social Diffusion as a Strategy:

Why is Social Diffusion a Good Strategy to Use at My Site?

Conversations that we have with those we trust or perceive as similar to ourselves have a larger influence on our choices, behaviors, and decisions than non-personal sources, like advertising and informative brochures. Social diffusion has the ability to remove knowledge gaps through trusted members of the community and relay campaign messages in a way that resonates with people

This is a great strategy to use because it makes behaviors visible, increasing the likelihood that the behavior will become a norm

Making the desired behavior visible within the community can substantially increase how quickly it is adopted by others. Consider using stickers and stewards to demonstrate the behavior and increase its visibility.

Social Diffusion in Action

Surfers for Shorebirds

Surfers for Shorebirds is an event hosted by implementers on Tybee Island that used social diffusion to promote pro-shorebird behaviors within the surfing community. The main objective of the event was to raise awareness about shorebird disturbance and encourage surfers to stay a safe distance from the nesting areas to protect and preserve shorebird habitat. The event took place at Tybee Island’s annual surfing competition. 

At the table, implementers (who were local surfing champions and surfing competition contestants) highlighted the critical role shorebirds have on Tybee Island and educated surfers about the importance of adopting shorebird-friendly behaviors.

Existing Resources for Implementing the Social Diffusion Strategy

Additional Resources

Click here to access the AFSI Outreach Material Searchable Database. The materials here are available for downloading, sharing, and most may be modified for your own use. If you have material you would like to share with the broader shorebird community, please submit your material for approval.