Social marketing is hot, hot, hot! I should be able to get my outdoor grill to heat up so fast. Everywhere you look, everybody is talking about social marketing, and why not? It can be a great thing to do. IF you do it right.
And there’s the rub. Some social marketing campaigns, like the ultra-trendy (RED) campaign, do good … but could do a lot more. Some of the most famous brands in the world have teamed up with the (RED) campaign to produce (RED) branded products, with the idea of giving a percentage of each sale to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. What finer cause could there be?
Unfortunately, this can also be where social marketing goes awry. In the case of the (RED) campaign, it fails because it draws focus away from addressing the very issues it wants to impact by becoming a distraction from the causes of those problems. Instead of selling products, would it not make more sense to work towards helping bring African countries out of poverty, as well as provide treatment for disease? No one can argue against the need for treatment … but neither should one forget that the plague of poverty will just keep the diseases coming, new case by new case, long after the funds available for treatment are exhausted.
At the root of good social marketing is good marketing. Principles, principles, principles! And a good marketing campaign begins with solid, fact-based research … the kind of research that reveals the actual causes of the problem to be addressed.
Don’t get me wrong. I admire the folks at (RED). At least they’re trying to do something. They’ve raised $11 million. Of course, their goal is $100 million, so the jury is still out on how effective they will be in the end. But one thing is for sure: whenever they reach the end of their campaign, the problem will still be there.
If you’re going to get involved in a social marketing campaign, approach it for what it is: a campaign that you can either excel at, or get fired for not doing well. Do it well. Do your homework. Do your due diligence.
Do it right!
Grant A. Johnson
Johnson Direct LLC