Four Things You Need to Know About the Future of Social Marketing

Jun 29

Social marketing experts convened at the World Social Marketing Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 16-17. Credit: World Social Marketing Conference/Carole Douglis

If you’ve ever had the chance to visit the Ogilvy office in Washington, DC, you know David Ogilvy is ever present through the bits of his persona scattered across the office. As soon as you walk through the doors, you’re greeted by a giant mural of the father of advertising himself alongside one of his famous quotes that still motivates us today: “Aim for the remarkable.”  

In that spirit, after attending last month’s World Social Marketing Conference—a biannual gathering of inspired (and inspiring) social marketing academics and practitioners from around the globe who are doing remarkable work, the Ogilvy contingent wanted to share key takeaways (in the form of quotations, of course):

“Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work.”— John Sterman, @MITSloan

As Professor Sterman so eloquently put it: lecture is boring. We know from behavioral science that simply sharing information does not engage and motivate people. He spoke about a role play exercise related to climate change negotiations that—rather than just telling youth about climate change—showed that giving youth tools and letting them learn for themselves resulted in greater emotional engagement with the topic, intention to learn more, and intention to take action. Ogilvy is using this philosophy within its new Center for Innovation and Creative Technology for projects, including virtual reality technology solutions, that aim to change the way users think about risk and health, and ultimately inspire them to take steps toward prosocial actions. We also are educating and engaging audiences by bringing authentic, emotionally compelling stories to life for projects like CDC’s Bring Your Brave cancer awareness campaign focused on younger women and The Heart Truth’s All Our Stories are Red series on heart disease awareness.

“Real world planning is not so linear or circular. It’s more iterative, and it should be.” – Jeff French, @JeffFrenchSSM

There is no shortage of helpful social marketing planning models, like CDCynergy, COMBI, and STELa, to name a few that were presented. The key for using any of them is that you need to use data and insights to inform your programs, set clear objectives, and evaluate. CDC’s Lynn Soklor added that sometimes it is the process of creating the plan that’s helpful since it brings everyone together. At Ogilvy, we believe strongly in doing—and applying—research, and conducting purposeful planning for implementation and evaluation. And we use an iterative model, consulting the data as we go to continually refine and improve our efforts. In the words of David Ogilvy: Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.  

“A major issue with partners is getting everyone to play nice together – we have to build a market before we have concerns over market share.” – Julie Ipe, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

From clean cookstoves to childhood obesity, the idea of public-private partnerships for social change was another clear theme of the week. Ogilvy’s work on the NHLBI The Heart Truth campaign was presented by Ogilvy alum Jennifer Wayman as an example of a successful partnership that engaged hundreds of partners, from corporate brands to community organizations. The fashion show piece of the campaign provided the partners with great assets and something to DO locally, which allowed them to come together around a cause without competition. Working together with corporate partners also reaped benefits beyond amplified reach of campaign messages: it fostered enhanced creative thinking and helped us mine new audience insights.

Social marketing is about participatory social transformation, not just behavior change.”—Jeff French, @JeffFrenchSSM

A clear theme for the conference was that social marketing needs to extend its gaze to social policy and systems change in order to make a true, lasting impact. USAID’s Elizabeth Fox noted that we have not really used social marketing with service delivery, calling it the frontier in integrated social marketing. In some cases we already do this, but the argument was made that we need to get funders on board to do more of this. As we look to the future, behavior change continues to be an important goal of our efforts as social marketers; creating supporting, sustainable environments for these efforts and inspiring individuals and communities to get involved in propagating change is also critical.  

What do you think about the future of social marketing?  Stay tuned for Part II of our key takeaways, coming to this blog next month…

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017 at 11:12 am and is filed under Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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