What is social marketing?

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Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviour that benefit 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 programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable”.

This definition was the result of a collaborative global effort led by Professor Jeff French to gain international consensus to the often-asked question “what is social marketing?”  In February 2012, the International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) and European Social Marketing Association (ESMA) began an iterative and inclusive process to develop a consensus definition of Social Marketing. A working group was formed to lead this work and in April 2013 the AASM agreed to participate and contribute to this process.

Download a definition of what social marketing is Click Here

The five considerations that have been taken into account when developing the definition are:

1. It is recognised that the definition is a consensus statement; it does not seek to limit or curtail debate about the nature of Social Marketing. The consensus definitions purpose is to enable the supporting associations to develop a common narrative about the nature of Social Marketing that will assist them in furthering the collective aim of capturing and spreading good practice.

2. The definition should focus on both the purpose and nature of Social Marketing practice.

3. It should be as short and succinct as possible.

4. The definition should be as unambiguous as possible and it should be capable of translation into languages other than English without loss of its substantive meaning.

5. The definition should be subject to on-going refinement to reflect the dynamic and developing nature of Social Marketing theory and practice.

Social Marketing Values, Principles and Concepts

This diagram is taken from the paper Global Consensus on social marketing principles, concepts and techniques, developed by a working group composed of members of iSMA, ESMA and AASM. The paper was also in its final stages reviewed and enhanced by SMANA. The task of this working group was to consider the global consensus definition of Social Marketing and to develop a set of principles, concepts and techniques that explain more fully
the added value of Social Marketing.

You can read the paper here >


Social Marketing Intervention Mix

The following diagram identifies a selection of the broad range of intervention tools and tactics that can be used in social marketing programmes. The diagram identifies how these various tools and tactics work at different system levels of influence from the individual to the macro level. Best practice social marketing programmes will use a combination of different tools and tactics operating at multiple levels of influence to bring about behaviour and social change for social good.

French and Gordon, 2019, Strategic Social Marketing: For Behaviour and Social Change. London: Sage.

Compilation of Social Marketing Evidence of Effectiveness: Key References

The following list of key evidence citations for Social Marketing was compiled with the support of the International Social Marketing Association (ISMA) and all its affiliated national and regional associations around the world. This list was compiled by asking leading Social Marketing experts from the fields of academia, policy and practice to recommend evidence citations that they have found most persuasive and helpful.

Read the paper >

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