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Jul 6
Guest Post -- Social Marketing: You Think You Know What It Means? Think Again.
Nedra Kline Weinreich, social marketing consultant and author of the blog Spare Change is holding a "Social Marketing University" from September 18 to 19 at UCLA.  During this two-day event, Weinreich will be providing tips and tools that will help marketers "persuade individuals to take action for change by addressing the values, needs and desires that motivate them."

Weinreich's workshop comes at an opportune time.  With Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis and podcasts becoming increasingly pervasive, some have begun to use the term "social marketing" to define this growing area.  However, there is a problem with this approach.  The term social marketing is already taken.  Rather than referring to "word of mouth marketing" it defines a decades-old field of study looking at how the marketing techniques used to promote commercial products can  motivate people to achieve positive social change.  In the post below, Weinreich clears up the confusion surrounding this term.  (Weinreich orginally posted this item on her blog, Spare Change last February.  It is reprinted below with a new forward from the author.)

Standard registration for Weinreich's Social Marketing University is $495.  However, those registering  by July 31 will receive a $100 discount.   To learn more about the Social Marketing University, please click here

[Disclosure: I have no financial or professional connections with Weinreich Communications.  I have not received any compensation from her to post about the Social Marketing University.]
Guest Post

When health care professionals want to influence the behavior of their patients or clients — whether to lose weight, take their medication correctly or get a colonoscopy — they often assume that educating them about the importance of the action is enough.  Give them all the facts and statistics, and they will make the rational decision to improve their health.  

Unfortunately, this approach does not always work because it leaves out the emotional components that tend to determine what people actually do, as opposed to what they know they should be doing.   I know several physicians who smoke, despite what they obviously know about the health effects and quitting process.  So education is usually necessary but not sufficient.

How do we bring in this added ingredient to our health behavior change efforts?  By using social marketing techniques to tap into the key values that motivate the people we’re trying to reach and relating the behavior to the things that are most important to them.  We find out what kind of person they want to be, and show how adopting the healthy behavior will help them to attain those characteristics.  In order to get them to perform the behavior, we have to answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” in a way that goes beyond just the immediate physical benefits, if maintaining their health is not a primary value for them.

The term “social marketing” has become misunderstood lately with the advent of social network marketing and other Web 2.0 applications.  To clarify what it actually means, you can read a piece I wrote on my Spare Change blog a while ago, which is reprinted below.

An Open Letter to the New "Social Marketers"

Social marketing. It's brand-new, word-of-mouth, viral, social networking, blogging, buzzing, consumer-generated media, right?

WRONG!

Looking at Technorati results, you would think that "social marketing" is all about the use of new media, social networking and Web 2.0 applications. Because bloggers have these things on their minds, not surprisingly, they write about them. But increasingly they are using the term "social marketing" as a catch-all phrase to describe what I would call "social network marketing."

Google the term. You'll see that the phrase "social marketing" already has a very specific meaning. I would define it as the use of marketing techniques to bring about positive behavior change related to health and social issues. You have to go through five pages of search results that follow that definition before you come across a link to Forrester Research, which offers a "Social Marketing Boot Camp" on "new technologies like blogs, social networking, and RSS." [Editor's note: The Boot Camp is now titled, "Social Computing."]

Even people who should know better, like Chris Perry (Sr. VP at PR company Weber Shandwick), who says "he has followed the social marketing movement through the Going Social blog since 2002," are using the term incorrectly. CMO Magazine ("the resource for marketing executives") ran a story called "Social Marketing in Four Flavors," which talks solely about word of mouth, blogs, RSS and podcasting. And the Association of Internet Marketing and Sales [offered] an event called "Social Marketing: Tapping Into The Power Of Connected Customers" that is clearly not about bringing about social change, but bigger profits. I have found many other examples as well.

Keeping these two marketing subdisciplines distinct and clearly defined is in everyone's best interest. Imagine the confusion that someone searching for information on blogging or word of mouth marketing would have if they googled "social marketing." [In February] there was not a useful link for miles around in Google distance. Likewise, I am constantly frustrated as I search for others writing on my kind of social marketing in the blogosphere. Everyone is better off if the term keeps the meaning it has had for a quarter century, rather than having the new definition propagate until nobody knows what anyone else is talking about.

This is not to say that social marketing does not or should not use the many useful tools offered by social network marketing. But they are not one and the same.

So, new "social marketers," please continue the great work you are doing. But let's come up with a new term to use - whether it's "social network marketing," "consumer-generated media," "social media," "word of mouth marketing" or anything else you prefer.

But leave us our one small piece of semantic real estate.


1 Comments/Trackbacks




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