Friday, 24 July 2009

A further comment about social marketing and Social Media

I received this email from ICE Creates Ltd sharing similar sentiments to mine regarding the social marketing / Social Media debacle:


There have been a number of articles printed recently looking at the relationship social marketing has with Social Media. Also linked to this, a number of comments have also been made that the NHS North West £30 million roster will be spent on marketing through these sites. Below is a response to these articles and comments from ICE CEO Stuart Jackson:

(The article is attached at the bottom).

I have been watching with great interest the recent unfolding debate around the role Social Media is playing in social marketing and how a recent £30 million social marketing roster by the NHS North West will potentially be used in this context, and I do feel there have been some inaccuracies printed that need to be clarified.

In the article, an MP was cited as criticising the notion that this £30 million pounds will be spent on using Facebook and Twitter, but the reality is, that at this stage, the NHS North West has not yet decided where the roster money will be spent.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be some confusion over what social marketing is. It begins with talking to the people you are trying to reach, finding out how they feel about the issues you are trying to address and helping them to create changes for the better. That could be in terms of young people and issues around alcohol and sexual health or by helping people in low socio-economic areas with high levels of alcohol misuse. Social marketing is about going directly into communities and helping them to remove barriers by creating choice.

Social marketing can also be described as the ‘systematic application of marketing concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals, for social or public good’.

There also seems to be some confusion here about the terms of ‘social marketing’ and ‘Social Media’. Social marketing is about positive behavioural change while Social Media relates to new communication technologies such as networking sites, including Facebook and twitter.

What we need to understand is that Social Media and social networking technology itself is still a relatively new and evolving area, and that means we're still in the early days of understanding how best to tap into and use this resource. I do think that social media sites can provide a tremendous opportunity for social marketers to explore new pathways for reaching out to audience groups, but whilst my social marketing team at ICE is currently on the cusp of delivering a cutting edge social marketing campaign involving social media sites to engage with school aged children and young people, it needs to be understood that this is only a very small percentage of our operation. Using Social Media to engage with an audience could be the outcome of a social marketing project, but equally, any number of other interventions may be selected as the most appropriate. On one recent alcohol awareness project we have worked on with Liverpool Primary Care Trust for example, the engagement method we selected was to employ two full time alcohol intervention workers who now offer ‘on the ground’ help and advice across a number of community settings in specific ‘hard to reach communities’. That’s hardly conventional marketing and communications, and may well be a first for a creative agency like us, but it’s proving very effective.

Ultimately, I do not believe that behavioural change can be achieved through Social Media sites alone, and the idea that the NHS might spend £30m on it with agencies such as ours is not only unwise, but also untrue. We are totally opposed to wasting public money which is why we are committed to working on programmes that will make a positive difference to people’s lives.

The Daily Telegraph

Stuart Jackson

CEO ICE Creates Ltd

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