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What is Social Marketing?

What is social marketing? Many people think that social marketing is Facebook, Twitter, social and digital platforms. Others think that social marketing is advertising and selling.

Social marketing is so much more than this, it’s about communicating to people.

According to “The International Social Marketing Association” definition states:

Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behavior that benefits individuals and communities for the greater social good.

Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programs that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable”.

Co-production is just one of the ways, to deliver social marketing. It’s is a practice in the delivery of public services in which citizens are involved in the creation of public policies and services. It is contrasted with a transaction based method of service delivery in which citizens consume public services which are conceived of and provided by governments. Co-production is possible in the private and non-profit sectors in addition to the public sector. In contrast with traditional citizen involvement, citizens are not only consulted, but are part of the conception, design, steering, and management of services

2 things social marketing does:

  • Set and measure behavioral objectives – What behavior are we trying to change? Did our program result in a change in the behavior we were seeking to achieve?
  • Generation of insights – What key learnings from detailed research,  what will  your program be centered on?

insight is the deep understanding of what will move, motivate people and organizations to adopt and repeat the behavior that you want them to do. The insights you have and give underpin program design.


For now we will focus on just one of the eight social marketing benchmarks – insight.

Insight is the deep understanding of what will move and motivate people and organisations to adopt and repeat behaviour that leads to change. Insights underpin program design and these come from diving deep to understand people.

To gain this deep understanding we need to undertake research to really understand why the current rates of behaviour exist. We need to understand:

  • what influences people
  • what people at the heart of the problem like and, importantly,
  • what they don’t like
  • why the people at the heart of the problem aren’t performing the behaviour and
  • so much more.

In order to adopt the philosophy of Social Marketing.. we have to understand how it can create a better awareness or an understanding of what you want people to do and want to do it for it to be successful.

Who could be some co-production partners?

For example the Corvid-Virus is happening, right now, most of us are in Lock-down – in other words stay home. If they want us to stay home to slow down the spread of the virus what would some ideas be that the government could do to make it happen, rather than just ordering us around?

Say you want to have the general public to support small businesses, rather than bigger companies 1st. What Social Marketing program would you create to have this happen?

It’s really about inspiring, co-collaborating with other organizations to work with you – so that together you are going to have bigger success, people will want so much to be a part of the project/program.

If you were going to launch a Kindness Program, how would you create a program that everyone wants to be a part of? Who would you ask to participate with you? What would you measure, how would you measure it. What kind of things would you like to have, who would you pick to be involved with you? Much to think about.

As you think about your marketing, ask yourself or crowdsource it.. what would people like to see more of from you?

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