Sometimes when watching your favorite show, they take a break and you are presented with a showing people burning coal and the fumes rising up towards the sky, and trees getting put down. Then the heat of the sun warms up the ice caps and the earth floods with water, and then a voice-over tells you: this is what happens when the burning of coals and felling of trees is continued at a high rate. So what do they say at the end of the commercial: “To reduce such actions in order to save our planet.” This is social marketing.
Social marketing explained
Social marketing is all about effecting a change in the behavior of your audience for their own benefit, and not for a brand. Social marketing is bringing about social change. Sometimes, it is not only to change the behavior of people, as in the example above, but to sustain such behavior so long it benefits the society at large. Social marketing does not market a product or service — social marketing markets ideas, thoughts, and social change.
Who does social marketing?
Social marketing is done by people or organizations that care about social good and improving the lifestyle of a people. Such organizations may include non-governmental organizations, fire-fighting companies, road-safety, drug enforcement agencies, etc.
Examples of social marketing
Social marketing is often carried by the above organizations in the following forms:
- Discouraging the use of harmful drugs
- Discouraging smoking
- Discouraging drinking and driving
- Discouraging deforestation
- Discouraging littering
- Discouraging racial segregation
- Discouraging gender discrimination
- Encouraging safe driving
- Encouraging personal hygiene
- Encouraging physical exercises for healthy living.
Importance and goal of social marketing
You will agree that most stereotypical ads you see turn you off. Most times you just sift through until you find something that speaks out to you, appeals to your emotions and personality. This is what social marketing does. Telling someone to stop smoking is not enough. It must be presented in such a way that captures the person’s attention and appeals to their emotions, before hoping to effect a long-lasting change in the individual. Social marketing presents these ideas in dramatic style, both entertaining yet educating the individual about the reality of their actions and its consequences. Some people are not actually aware of the harmful effects of the drugs they use, yet they have some unpleasant experiences. But when these experiences are explained through social marketing, the individual understands fully the scope of their action and its consequences. Through its compelling and simple style, social marketing is able to “market” ideas for social good.
Social marketing is entirely different from social media marketing
Social marketing must not be misconstrued with social media marketing. Social media marketing is simply the use of social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to Market a brand, whereas social marketing could be through any platform so long the ultimate aim is social good and not to market a brand.
The 5 Ps of social marketing
There are 4 Ps associated with traditional commercial marketing viz.: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Social marketing includes a 5th P i.e. Policy, in its approach.
Product: The product in commercial marketing is what the market sells. It is the same way with social marketing but here, the product is not a tangible object or services, but an action or behavior that offers benefits to the society. The product must be delivered to the audience in such a clear and captivating way such that the audience understands and accepts the change and its benefits.
Price: In commercial marketing, the price refers to the financial cost of the product. In social marketing, it refers to the difficulties and barriers faced by the individual in making the desired change. It is often quite physically and emotionally difficult for someone to stop smoking, carry out physical fitness training and hygiene, and that is why social marketing must rely on making the benefits to far outweigh the “price”.
Place: This is how and on what platform you want to reach your audience. Where is your audience likely to receive your message, and what efforts must you make to ensure that your message reaches and is accepted by your audience? Ambassadors can be put in place to directly liaise with the audience.
Promotion: This refers to the media you use in capturing the attention of your audience. It could be through radio or television channels, newsletters, bill boards, rallies, etc. The medium must be one that is easily accessible to the audience.
Policy: Policies are created in a social marketing campaign to encourage the audience to make the desired change. The policies do not serve as a punishment when they refuse the change, but as a way to drive them to change.