icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

Social Media and Social Norming

A mockup of three Facebook ads on iPhones.

Can social media advertising increase adoption of cooperative savings groups among women in the U.S.?


  • Context: CARE wanted to test social media as a tool to increase knowledge of and interest in cooperative savings groups among target populations of women in Atlanta, Houston, and L.A.
  • Results: CARE’s campaign increased the number of Spanish-speaking women in L.A. who believed that Community Trusts were beneficial for connecting people who care about improving their financial health by +2.4 points but did not see a change among target populations in Atlanta and Houston.
  • Key learnings: Testimonial-style ads performed best; Interest-based targeting, such as an interest in ‘entrepreneurship’ might augment geographic targeting; and more work is needed make cooperative savings socially normative in the United States.

In many countries around the world, CARE is known for its Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). VSLAs are cooperative savings groups that empower women economically and socially. Participating women around the world save together, lend to one another to fund entrepreneurial endeavors and, in doing so, build their communities. By 2030, CARE’s goal is to support 50 million women and girls – and 65 million people overall – in forming savings groups.

CARE wanted to see if we could improve knowledge about and attitudes towards the idea of cooperative savings groups among our target participant groups in Atlanta, Houston, and LA. We wondered if boosted posts could increase interest from women in these markets to learn more and engage with Community Trusts to enjoy the same benefits seen outside the U.S. We also wondered what types of messages would be most effective in increasing interest from women to learn more.

To test this, CARE created a series of different campaign ads focused on increasing women’s belief that Community Trusts could help them build the financial skills and a supportive network to access financial freedom. Key messages communicated three key themes: building financial skills; acquiring a supportive network; and accessing financial freedom. The ads incorporated statistics, testimonials and coaching intended to boost awareness of and trust in the CARE Community Trust brand and underscore the value-add of these groups over other savings mechanisms that exist in target communities. Our ads ran in English in Atlanta and Houston and in Spanish in Los Angeles.

Over the course of the 4-week campaign (January 4 – February 9, 2022), CARE’s Community Trust ad set reached 1.6M women in Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles through advertising across Facebook and Instagram.

On Facebook and Instagram, the best tool we have to evaluate the efficacy of these ads is Facebook’s brand lift study tool. The tool uses online surveys at the end of the campaign. It gathers responses from people exposed to the ads as well as those unexposed and then measures the difference.


Our campaign increased the number of women who believed that Community Trusts were beneficial for connecting people who care about improving their financial health in Los Angeles by +2.4 points, meaning that when comparing the control group who did not see the ads to the test group who did, 16,800 more women from the test group believe in the potential of Community Trusts.

In Atlanta and Houston, ad recall was very high, but there wasn’t any perceptible shift in attitude towards Community Trusts leaving us curious about the difference in resonance between Spanish-speaking women in L.A. and English-speaking women in Houston and Atlanta.

From a communications standpoint, key performance indicators matched our benchmarks for similar campaigns. Overall, women visiting the Community Trust landing page spent an average of 2.3 minutes on the site and of those that visited the page, 6% clicked to continue learning more. Interest was highest in Atlanta where 7.1% of page visitors clicked to join the Community Trust email list for more information and to learn how to join a group. This conversion was 2x above our benchmark. While these typical campaign performance metrics demonstrate an engaging ad series, did we help foster an uptick in social acceptance for cooperative savings groups?

As we continue to experiment and learn about using social media as a tool for driving positive changes in knowledge, attitude and behavior, we continued to build on our key takeaways that will inform our next campaigns.

In Atlanta, 7.1% of page visitors clicked to join the Community Trust email list.

This conversion was 2x above our benchmark.

Key Takeaways

Testimonials perform best every time. As with CARE’s campaigns to reduce COVID vaccine hesitancy featuring CARE staff sharing their personal stories, the most engaging ad, driving the most likes, shares and comments, featured a testimonial.

For future campaigns, we might consider targeting women interested in “entrepreneurship” or “small business” in addition to geographic and equity-focused targeting. From the results, it was clear that different messaging would resonate with different age groups. For example, emphasizing the community aspect – “connecting with others in your area” – may be an effective outreach strategy, especially for women 25-44. Conversely, for women 18-24 emphasizing that Community Trusts focus on equity and the ways cooperative savings can financially empower women who have a hard time getting a loan from a traditional bank may resonate more.

Most importantly, this campaign helped to validate some of CARE’s previous research related to introducing the VSLA concept in the United States. Significant shifts in attitude, knowledge and behavior related to cooperative savings is needed for the VSLA concept to work in the United States. This campaign made us wonder if we should consider a two-to-five-year education and social norm-rooted campaign to ensure Community Trusts in the U.S. are on track to experience the same kind of success we’ve seen in other parts of the world.

“Our partnership with Meta for this targeted experiment as well as our mixed results encourage and excite me as they ultimately help improve our theory of change and our ability to build economic resilience for women.”
– Ryan Shepard, AVP, US Programs, CARE USA

COVID-19 and Meta: Social and Behavioral Change Communication Learnings from 20 Countries

CARE created social ads featuring personal stories from a series of women who had been impacted by COVID-19 and were initially vaccine hesitant. The series ran in November, ahead of Thanksgiving and other holiday travel when we knew our target audience would be planning to gather with their families.

Read More
COVID-19 and Social Media: Using Facebook to drive social and behavioral change in 19 countries

Through a groundbreaking partnership with Facebook, CARE Country Offices have begun to understand what kinds of messaging works best to increase COVID prevention behaviors and vaccine acceptance.

Read More
Back to Top