What is Social Marketing?

What is Social Marketing?

Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches (e.g., behavioral economics, human-centered design) to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good.1

Social marketing…do you mean social media?

No.  Social marketing is about using marketing strategies to improve society.  Social media is a more recent term, and refers to web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.  (And to add to the confusion, we often deploy social media in the service of social marketing!)

When did social marketing become “a thing?”

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, when two marketing professors at the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors. They defined social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.”

Social marketing techniques have been used extensively in international health programs, and are being used with more frequency in the United States to address social problems as wide ranging as drug abuse, climate change, heart disease, and organ donation.

What does AlterAction know about social marketing?

AlterAction has developed and implemented comprehensive social marketing strategies, campaigns, and programs since its inception in 2002. Founder Mike Walker’s experience running social marketing campaigns dates to the late 1980s, where he ran several successful social marketing campaigns at US EPA to reduce the health risks of radon gas and other indoor pollutants.

Our social marketing experience is broad and includes work in the following areas:

International Social Marketing AssociationMike Walker is a frequent public speaker on social and behavioral marketing, and AlterAction is a member of the International Social Marketing Association.

1. Source: International Social Marketing Association