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Social Marketing

What is social marketing?

Social marketing is the application of marketing principles, techniques, skills, theory, and practices to achieve social goals. It seeks to influence people's behaviours using commercial marketing as a way to drive desired social changes that are beneficial to the people involved. The areas it targets include the physical, economic and social environment of the people and the improvements are designed to be long-term, therefore, there is careful and long planning involved.

The practice of social marketing is often viewed from two sides namely the social parent and the marketing parent. The former has as its goal the influence of human activities using social science while the latter does so with commercial and public sector techniques.

Since the goal of social marketing is to change behaviour and not merely to influence attitude and awareness, it focuses its study on the group it is aiming at changing. Therefore, there is extensive research into people's behaviour to gain insight about them. However, the discipline is often mistaken for social media marketing although social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter often serve as tools used in social marketing.

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What is social marketing in public health?

The role of social marketing in public health is the concentration of commercial marketing practices in public health. The goal is to influence health behaviour by employing all sorts of health communication strategies. Some of these health communication strategies include the mediated, interpersonal and message replacement methods. However, they are not limited to those.

The application of social marketing in public health has led to the evolution from a one-dimentional channel of communication which is the public service announcements to wider and mode efficient techniques sponsored by the commercial marketers.

What are the four P's of social marketing?

The four P's of social marketing draws from those of marketing generally which are also referred to as marketing mix. They are informed by marketer's need to learn what people need and how they want those needs met instead of assuming they will buy just anything a marketer produces.

  • Product

To facilitate behaviour change in the public health sector, you should consider a particular product you can introduce to realize that. This P also includes services you can introduce to foster behaviour change which can be new or an already existing one which will be adapted to suit your need as a social marketer. Some of this include medical or lifestyle journals that encourage good diet, HIV and blood pressure testing kits, and so on. These products, while meeting economic needs, also changes how people perceive the health conditions associated with them.

  • Price

Sometimes what's hindering your target behavioural modification is the cost of effecting it. Therefore, influencing the factors that will decrease their cost will get people to start taking the desired action. What is referred to as price here can be better known as barriers which can be in form of culture, time, psychological, emotional, costs besides the financial.

  • Place

Place is the intervention that takes into account where your audience will be to access the new product or services which will influence behaviour. Remember, the goal is not to just introduce something but to displace the competing and already existing behaviour. Therefore, erecting a condom vendor around where your audience hangout will make it easier for them to access them.

  • Promotion

While performing the above P's, you will also have to continuously make contact with your audience to foster the change. Therefore, you have to understand the communication channels that will allow you to do that most effectively. Also, determine what your team will need through the course of the promotion.


What are the five elements of social marketing?

Social marketing elements or principles are the integral concepts to it. They include:

  • Marketing mix

These the what are known as the four P's. Initially, common practice was to focus on just promotion. With time Price, Place and Product became part of it. However, today, marketing mix has been expanded to include Public, Partnership, Purse, and policy.

  • Customer Orientation

in practice, it really is more of 'target adopters' than 'consumers' since marketers figure out that 'consumers' implies that just about any product is sold to them to effect change (which is opposite of social marketing principles). Instead, social marketers prefer standiing in the shoes of the people they are looking to change.

  • Exchange

This refers to the value which the marketer provides and which makes it possible for the people to drop their initial behaviour and adopt the target one. It is born out of the change agent's understanding of what the group needs and offering benefits that make it happen.

  • Long-term Planning

There is need for long-term planning because, unlike social media campaigns that aim at creating awareness and influencing attitude in order to drive sales, social marketing seeks to make permanent changes. The goal of the long-term planning is to overcome both the internal and external competition generated by existing counter behaviour.

  • Behavioural goals

The focus of social marketing is not just to influence behaviour change instead of attitude, but also to device means of sustaining the positive behaviour it has effected over a long time.


Importance of social marketing

Through the behavioural sciences, organizations have been able to tap into social marketing to drive positive changes especially in the area of public health. There are many advantages of social marketing and they include:

  • It transforms people's perception and behaviour towards a lot of things for the benefit of society. This advantage is the thrust of the discipline and all of its application
  • The results it generates lasts for a very long time. Therefore, adopting it for PR or health concerns guarantee sustainable change.
  • If done right, it improves the reputation of the organization carrying it out.


Final thoughts

As a psychological concept, social marketing ensures that positive changes are made along the lines of a large group of society. The implication is that there is no limit to its application because its goal is more than an attitude change but a behavioural one. Once the barriers to the particular change one needs to meet is overcome, the results are immense.