It’s time for social and commercial marketers to get on the same page

While commercial marketing  sells goods or services, the “product” in social marketing is human behaviour. Social marketing campaigns seek to change behaviour for the good of society and/or individuals.

Last week I attended the Marketing Association event “Social Marketing, it’s not Twitter”. Tracey Bridges of SenateSHJ shared thoughts from the 2015 World Social Marketing Conference.

Should commercial brands play a role in social marketing?

It’s a divisive question that tends to polarise marketers from both sides. This topic drew debate at the conference. Commercial marketers have unfortunately given our social counterparts reason to be cynical. Tracey cited the example of alcohol brands promoting responsible drinking at tasting events.The feeling from the social marketers in the room was that commercial marketers should keep clear.

Should commercial brands use social marketing campaigns?

Currently I work for an open source software company. This means we give our product away for free. To foster our open source community we often help customers that will never pay us a cent. I’ve learnt ROI can’t always be measured in dollars and cents.

I believe that commercial brands can positively affect social change. Commercial marketing budgets are often larger than government agencies. There’s large scope to influence behaviour through existing customer bases. For example, The Warehouse  promotes fire alarms at store check outs.

Getting it wrong: Woolworths ANZAC Day Fail

Social media lets us call out brands using social issues for commercial own gain. But some brands still try and suffer the consequences. Recently Woolworths faced massive public backlash from trying to cash in on ANZAC day. Now they’re facing a $50,000 fine for using ANZAC for purely commercial gain.

Facebook users were encouraged to change their profile image to this image. The tacky

Woolworths Facebook followers were encouraged to this as their profile image. The tacky slogan combined and corporate logo was never going to go down well. To add insult their was no tie in to RSA fundraising efforts.

Getting it right: State Insurance

Branded social marketing works best with a natural connection to the cause.

In 2012, 241 accidents occurred due to vehicle faults such as worn tyres , in New Zealand (NZTA). State Insurance recently released an app that gives customers discounts on services that prevent accidents such as tyre replacements.

While it’s tricky territory, responsible commercial marketing support social marketing efforts. If helping is the core focus a positive public reception is more likely. Given social marketing aims to improve society, this can only be a good thing.

What side do you take on the commercial vs social marketing debate?

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