July 18, 2017
Image from VicHealth’s H30 challenge
Health promotion campaigns are used to raise awareness about alcohol and other drug (AOD) harms with the aim of improving health outcomes and community wellbeing. But knowing where to start and how to tailor these campaigns can be tricky.
One way to tackle the challenge is the adoption of ‘social marketing’ techniques. In short, the application of the concepts and tools of commercial marketing to achieve socially desirable goals.1
It’s important to note that we’re not talking here about ‘social media’ platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Rather we’re talking about an approach to health promotion that incorporates basic concepts found in commercial marketing including:
Social marketing vs traditional marketing – similarities and differences
An exchange process between the “buyer” and the “seller” underlies these concepts of commercial marketing. Health promotion through social marketing relies heavily on these traditional marketing concepts.
The key difference between the two however is that social marketing is not about commercial profit through the sale of goods or services, but rather a transfer of ideas leading to “positive” behaviour change.
“What’s in it for me?”
A necessary condition for a successful exchange (or campaign) is that social marketers offer people something they value in exchange for them adopting a recommended behaviour.
This requires social marketers to really interrogate and understand the question: “What’s in it for me?”. Being able to get inside this question, to understand what drives a particular target individual or group is key – because this is what they will be asking themselves when evaluating your campaign’s content and messaging.
Sitting alongside this is the need to supply the principles and tools that the target audience can effectively use.
A well planned social marketing campaign “stimulates people to respond, removes barriers to responding, provides them with opportunity to respond, and, where possible, the skills and means to respond.”2
Social marketing differs from traditional marketing in four other key ways:
So what’s next? Once you’ve come to understand the fundamentals of social marketing it’s time to consider a framework and understand the effectiveness of social marketing, issues which will be discussed in the next article.