Social Marketing Strategy: Definition & Examples

Social Marketing

Social marketing marks a major shift from more traditional approaches to brand outreach or product endorsement. Traditional marketing reacts to consumer behavior, whereas social marketing attempts to influence consumer behavior. Rather than simply selling a product or service, social marketing tries to enhance individuals’ lives and inspire positive social change.
To effectively adopt this new paradigm, marketing professionals may need to acquire new skills and views. This course will go over the definition, some of the fundamental elements, and examples needed for a successful social marketing strategy.

Definition of Social Marketing?

Social marketing is a technique that aims to influence people’s everyday activities in a way that benefits them as individuals and leads to widespread, beneficial changes throughout a community or population. From this definition, we can see that it draws its concepts from social science as well as traditional marketing and advertising.

Social Marketing Definition, What it is and What it isn’t?

There are numerous techniques to achieving social change through efficient social cause marketing strategies. Nonetheless, the basic pillar stays constant: the social good is always the primary concern.

Whether it is attempting to persuade the public to cease smoking or encouraging males in poor countries to use condoms, the focus is always on the public good first.

Thus, the concept of societal marketing is around promoting change in creative ways to local, national, and international groups in the public interest.

As a result, social marketing should not be confused with other related concepts such as social media marketing, green or sustainable marketing, or commercial marketing with a social focus.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing makes use of social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. These are collections of websites that are mostly published by users to foster online communities. They can be used to generate publicity for social marketing activities, but that is not their primary aim.

Sustainable Marketing

A corporation’s use of sustainable marketing to demonstrate corporate social responsibility is referred to as CSR marketing. Although a commercial company may engage in social marketing (for example, supporting support for public radio), sustainable marketing to promote their own business does not qualify as social marketing.

Commercial Marketing

Commercial marketing with a social aim might range from promoting a new 100% recyclable plastic water bottle to urging customers to purchase a more fuel-efficient car. While these marketing strategies promote eco-friendly products that will surely help society, their major focus is not societal good; it is selling a product.

The Four Ps of Social Marketing

Now that we’ve properly established the social marketing concept, let’s look at four fundamental parts for any marketing campaign—the “4 Ps”—and see how they work inside the social marketing environment. These “Ps” are product, pricing, place, and promotion, and they are also known as the “marketing mix”. You must establish these aspects before designing your marketing plan, and you must keep the key when designing.

#1. Product

In social marketing, the “product” is the desired social activity and the benefits it provides. Make sure that this change is enticing as possible…this may involve portraying the opposite behavior as unfavorable. Clarity is also important. Make certain that your audience understands your “product” and its benefits fast and simply.

#2. Price

Reduce the “price” that your audience perceives they must “pay” for the intended social action to take place.

This cost isn’t solely monetary. It is also about minimizing the difficulties, time, and psychological/emotional expenses that people may face. As a result, when developing a social marketing strategy, you must consider (and analyze) the barriers that prevent your target audience from engaging in the desired action.

Then, devise intuitive, workable solutions to overcome these obstacles. For example, if your campaign is geared at encouraging more activity in your neighborhood but there are few safe outdoor locations and indoor class rates are prohibitive, try offering free indoor fitness sessions.

#3. Place

Where do you want your audience to do the desired behavior? How can you reach them in ways that make it easier to do the action in that area (and make that behavior more desirable than competing behaviors)? Do you need to recruit peers from your target audience as “ambassadors” to make the campaign more accessible to your target audience?

Consider the following examples of “place:”

  • If you put up an adolescent hotline, make it available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone, text, and internet messaging.
  • If you want to encourage customers to use reusable bags in stores, charge them for each disposable bag they require and charge a little amount for reusable bags (that customers can keep bringing back and using at no cost to them). Take it a step further and print messages like “plastic bags damage marine life” on the disposable bags while making the reusable bags beautiful and appealing to use.
  • If you want to drive food bank donations, consider a campaign in a grocery shop, using donation bins at store entrances.
  • If you’re running a contribution campaign, include a URL, QR code, or live donation link in your campaign ads.

#4. Promotion

This one brings all four “Ps” together.

  • What platforms and outlets can assist you to contact your target audience and bring their attention to your campaign?
  • What about social media? Television? Radio? A sign, a billboard, or an installation? Concerts, expos, and community days? Guerrilla campaigns?
  • How will you draw attention to the product (activity), the low price, and the location where you want the action to take place?

Examples of Social Marketing in the UK

Most customers have seen a variety of social marketing strategies and examples, whether they realize it or not. Ads warning about the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to choose healthier lifestyles are good examples of social marketing. Consider advertisements or promotional messages that urge individuals to recycle or make environmentally responsible decisions. These advertisements do not promote a product. Instead, they are “selling” immediate behavioral change.
These efforts aren’t just for advertising; they’re also frequently employed on magazine covers.

Other examples of social marketing in various media include:

  • The National Geographic series “Planet or Plastic,” which was released in June 2018.

NatGeo used a photo of a plastic bag in the shape of an iceberg as their front cover for this campaign to raise awareness of the billions of plastic bags that pollute the oceans..

  • When prominent Australian newspapers blacked out their front pages in October 2019 to protest the government’s crackdown on media freedom.

Most typically, a good social marketing strategy takes the shape of placards, which activists use during boycotts, marches, and other types of protest, such as the Extinction Rebellion’s “Business As Usual = Death” sign.

The Elements of a Successful Social Marketing Strategy

Any campaign aimed at influencing human behavior must include a few key components.

  • A goal—What kinds of behavioral changes are desired?
  • An audience—Who are the folks we want to persuade? In the example of an anti-smoking advertisement, the target audience would be cigarette smokers or those considering starting the habit.
  • Programs or channels—How will the message be communicated? Anti-smoking messages, for example, could be distributed via YouTube videos, banners, and signs, or social media.
  • Clearly stated message—What are the advantages of the proposed behavioral changes? Why should people think about them?
  • A method for measuring outcomes—How might evidence of the intended behavioral changes be observed or quantified?

What Marketers Should Think About When Developing a Social Marketing Strategy

Consider the following key components before launching an effective social marketing strategy

#1. Recognize Your Target Market

Determine who’s behavior has to be altered before changing anyone else’s. Formative research is essential to comprehend the target audience’s objectives and needs, as well as their pain areas and everyday routines. For example, while developing an anti-smoking advertisement, social marketers may want to know why people begin smoking, how frequently they smoke, what benefits they gain from smoking, and what hurdles hinder them from quitting.

#2. Choose Your Advocacy Strategy

The following step is to decide how to advocate for a social cause or habit. Marketers can use research on the target audience to determine what type of messaging is most effective.

Consider the following example: a pro-recycling campaign. A marketer may choose to advocate in any of the following ways based on the requirements, wants, and values of a target audience:

  • Concerns about keeping the Earth clean are being addressed.
  • Concerns about how current habits will affect future generations
  • Explicitly stating the economic worth of recycling
  • Promoting the attractiveness of a certain city or community

#3. Make goals and plans.

Setting goals and developing methods to achieve those goals is the next phase in a social marketing strategy.

Marketers must establish the exact type of behavioral change that is intended when setting targets. Social marketers should also establish benchmarks to help measure the performance of the campaign. Goals for a campaign designed to motivate local businesses to “go green” may include enlisting a certain number of entrepreneurs to sign a statement pledging their support for environmental sustainability, achieving a measurable reduction in carbon emissions, or enlisting a certain number of entrepreneurs to sign a statement pledging their support for environmental sustainability.

Media approaches for attaining these objectives could include everything from billboards to TV commercials to online social networks. Understanding the target audience is essential here as well. An effective campaign will target its messaging and resources to the people who are most likely to hear it.

#4. Examine Success

Another critical factor to consider is the level of success of a social marketing effort. This entails assessing progress toward defined goals and benchmarks. In some circumstances, the same instruments used for audience research, such as surveys and questionnaires, can be used to assess the success of a campaign.

Social Marketing Strategy Tools and Resources Available in the UK

A variety of resources, platforms, and tools can help you create a strong campaign. This includes methods for sharing information as well as learning about a target audience.

A variety of audience research tools, such as the ones listed below, can be used.

  • Sending out surveys, whether via postal or email newsletter
  • Accessing appropriate Reddit subcommunities with a specific topic or demography
  • Obtaining immediate feedback with Quora, an online question and answer platform
  • Using Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner to collect data from internet search activity.
  • Obtaining data on relevant customer purchasing trends via searches
  • Using focus groups to conduct more in-depth audience research


Social marketing is marketing that encourages social change rather than selling a product. It sells a behavior that helps society rather than a product. Through images and appealing slogans, well-executed social marketing employs creativity and provokes emotions to inspire action. If you intend to use social marketing to address an issue or raise awareness, make sure to explicitly identify your campaign’s “four Ps” before you launch: product, pricing, place, and promotion!

Do you have any additional tips that we didn’t cover? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

Social Marketing FAQ’s

What are social issues?

A social issue is a problem that affects a large number of people in a society. It is a group of frequent problems in today’s society, and many people are working to fix them.

What social issues benefit from social marketing?

Tobacco use, binge drinking, obesity, physical activity, vaccines, nutrition, sexually transmitted illnesses, blood pressure, dental health, high cholesterol, and skin, breast, prostate, and colon cancer are all major issues that social marketing can help with.

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