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Social Marketing Examples, Theory, and Strategies

If you are in the field of marketing, it is important to know about social marketing. It is a tool that allows you to influence people’s behaviors. In this article, we will discuss social marketing examples, theories, and strategies.

Most people think of social marketing as simply “promoting” a message or product through social media. And while that’s one way to do it, there’s more to it than just shouting your message from the rooftops.

What is social marketing?

Social marketing can be defined as an act or process of changing or improving people’s behavior for the benefit of society. It’s about using marketing techniques to influence people’s perceptions and motivate them to change their behavior for the better. For example, convincing someone to wear a seatbelt is social marketing. So is convincing someone to get a flu shot, stop smoking, or recycle their trash.

Ultimately, this aspect of marketing is about making the world a better place by improving people’s lives. And it starts with understanding what motivates people and what they’re influenced by. Once you know that, you can begin to design messages and programs that will encourage them to make the changes you want to see.

Social marketing examples, theory and strategy

Philip Kotler’s Definition of Social Marketing

Philip Kotler defined social marketing as a “process that applies marketing principles and techniques to create, communicate and deliver value in order to influence target audience behaviors that benefit society (public health, safety, the environment, and communities) as well as the target audience”. (Kotler, Lee, & Rothschild, 2006 cited in Kotler & Lee, 2008). According to this definition, social marketing is similar to the societal marketing concept which also involves marketing that considers the good of society, the customer, and the company. Their difference lies in the fact that social marketing has no profit motive but mainly to change the behavior of the target audience for social good.

Types of social marketing

  1. Paid social media advertising: is one of the most effective ways to reach a target audience. However, it can also be one of the most expensive, so it’s important to consider your budget carefully before you commit to this type of marketing.
  2. Social media influencer marketing: this involves working with influencers who have a large following on social media to promote your product or service. This can be an effective way to reach a large audience, but it can be difficult to find and work with influencers who are a good match for your brand.
  3. User-generated content marketing: involves encouraging your customers or fans to create and share content about your brand on social media. This can be a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty, but it’s important to make sure that the content is high quality and on-brand.
  4. Sponsored content: this is a form of paid advertising where you pay to have your brand featured in someone else’s content. This can

These are several different types of social marketing, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Examples of social marketing campaigns

A social marketing campaign is a coordinated effort to promote a cause or change behavior using various channels of communication. The term “social marketing” was coined in the 1970s by two American marketing professors, Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman. Since then, social marketing has been used to address a wide variety of issues, including but not limited to:

  • promoting public health (e.g., anti-smoking campaigns)
  • preventing drug abuse (e.g., The Truth campaign)
  • increasing recycling rates (e.g., RecycleBank)
  • reducing crime (e.g., neighborhood watch programs)
  • encouraging responsible drinking (e.g., moderation management programs).

There are many examples of effective social marketing campaigns, we will disuss on some of them below.

A social marketing campaign typically has the following components:

  • identifying the problem or behavior to be changed
  • conducting research to understand the target audience’s attitudes, beliefs, and motivations
  • designing messages and materials that appeal to the target audience
  • selecting the most appropriate channels for delivering the messages (e.g., TV, radio, print, online)
  • developing strategies for measuring progress.

Other examples of social marketing campaigns

#LikeAGirl campaign from Procter & Gamble

One campaign that comes to mind is the #LikeAGirl campaign from Procter & Gamble. This campaign sought to change the way girls feel about themselves and their ability to succeed. The campaign used emotion-provoking videos and hashtags to get its message across, and it was very successful.

#MyBeautifulDetention campaign

Another example is the #MyBeautifulDetention campaign from the United Nations Refugee Agency. This campaign encouraged people to share stories and photos of refugees in a positive light, humanizing them instead of seeing them as just numbers or statistics. These are just a couple of examples of how social marketing can be used to effect real change.

Truth campaign

One well-known campaign is the Truth campaign, by the Truth Initiative which was created to discourage young people from smoking. The campaign used a mix of mass media and grassroots organizing to create a powerful anti-smoking message.

“Texting and Driving” campaign

Another example is the “Texting and Driving” campaign. This campaign uses various media outlets to reach drivers and tell them about the dangers of texting while driving. The campaign also provides tips on how to avoid being distracted while driving.

“Be the Match” campaign

Another example is the “Be the Match” campaign. This campaign encourages people to donate their bone marrow so that it can be used to treat blood cancer patients.

“5 A Day” campaign

One notable campaign is the “5 A Day” campaign in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The campaign used television, radio, and print ads to reach its audience.

“Be Sun Smart” campaign

Another successful campaign is the “Be Sun Smart” campaign in Australia, which encouraged people to use sunscreen and wear hats to protect themselves from the sun.

Social marketing strategy

In social marketing, the aim is to use commercial marketing techniques to improve the welfare of individuals and society as a whole. It is a type of cause-related marketing that seeks to change behavior for the greater good. Social marketing has been used to promote a wide range of causes, including public health, environmental protection, and social justice issues.

There are many different theories and approaches to social marketing, but all share a common goal: to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Some of the most popular social marketing strategies are listed below.

Common strategies of social marketing

  • Creating educational campaigns to raise awareness about important issues
  • Designing behavior change programs to encourage people to adopt healthier habits
  • Conducting research to understand what motivates people to change their behavior
  • Planning and implementing advocacy campaigns to bring about systemic change

No matter what approach you take, social marketing is all about using your skills and resources to make the world a better place. If you’re interested in making a difference, there are plenty of ways you can get involved with social marketing.

Strategies for social marketing usually involve some combination of mass media, face-to-face contact, and community or individual-level change efforts. The best social marketing programs use a mix of all three approaches.

Social marketing theories and models

Social marketing is a theory that holds that the best way to change people’s behavior is to change the environment around them. The goal of social marketing is to create an environment that makes it easy for people to make healthier choices.

One of the most important aspects of social marketing theory is the concept of social norms. Social norms are the unwritten rules that govern how we behave in a given situation. They are determined by our culture, our family, and our peers. For example, it is a social norm to eat when food is available.

Social marketing theory posits that we are more likely to comply with a request if it is consistent with our social norms. In other words, we are more likely to do something if we see other people doing it.

This theory has been used to great effect in campaigns to encourage seatbelt use, handwashing, and other healthy behaviors. By changing the social norm around these behaviors, we can change people’s behavior as well.

Types of social marketing theories

  1. Theory of reasoned action: This theory posits that people take action based on their beliefs and values. So, if you want to change someone’s behavior, you need to first change their beliefs.
  2. Social cognitive theory: This theory states that people learn by observing others. So, if you want to change someone’s behavior, you need to provide them with role models who exhibit the desired behavior.
  3. Diffusion of innovation theory: This theory says that people adopt new ideas and products when they see others doing so. So, if you want to change someone’s behavior, you need to make sure that the people around them are also exhibiting the desired behavior.

There are many social marketing theories out there but the most popular ones have been briefly discussed above; we will talk about them later in the section.

Explaining the models of social marketing

As the field of social marketing continues to evolve, so too do the models that practitioners use to guide their work. Over the years, a number of different social marketing models have been proposed and developed, each with its own unique insights and contributions. We’ll take a closer look at the prominent social marketing models: the Youths Involvement Model, the reasoned action approach, the social cognitive theory, and the protection motivation theory.

The youth involvement model

The Youths Involvement Model was first proposed by Kotler and Roberto in 1974 as a way to explain how young people become involved in social causes. The model posits that there are four main stages that youth go through on their way to becoming activists: awareness, interest, evaluation, and commitment. By understanding these stages, Kotler and Roberto argued, marketers could more effectively develop messages and campaigns that would resonate with young people.

The reasoned approach

The reasoned action approach was developed by Ajzen and Fishbein in 1980 as an extension of their earlier work on the theory of planned behavior. The reasoned action approach posits that people’s intentions to engage in a particular behavior are based on their attitudes towards that behavior (whether it is seen as positive or negative) and their perceptions of whether it aligns with their beliefs and values.

Social cognitive theory

Social Cognitive Theory posits that people’s behavior is determined by their thoughts and beliefs about themselves and the world around them. If people believe that getting vaccinated against the flu is important, they are more likely to get vaccinated.

The protection motivation theory

The protection motivation theory is a social marketing model that suggests people are more likely to take action to protect themselves from threats if they believe that doing so will be effective. The theory posits that there are four key elements that influence whether or not someone will take action in the face of a threat: severity, susceptibility, response costs, and self-efficacy.

If someone perceives the threat to be severe and their susceptibility to it to be high, they are more likely to take action if they believe that doing so will be effective and the response costs are low.

Social marketing interventions

There are many social marketing interventions that can be used to improve the health of a population.

Examples of social marketing interventions

  1. Education and awareness campaigns to promote healthier lifestyles
  2. Media campaigns to dispel myths and misconceptions about health
  3. Programs to encourage healthy eating and physical activity
  4. Policies to create a supportive environment for healthy living
  5. Incentives and rewards programs to encourage healthy behaviors

Theories of social marketing suggest that behavior change is more likely when people are exposed to messages that are salient, credible, and actionable. In other words, social marketing messages need to be interesting, believable, and easy to do.

Importance of social marketing

As a society, we are constantly bombarded with marketing messages. Whether we are scrolling through our Facebook feed, watching TV, or listening to the radio, we are constantly being marketed to. And though traditional marketing techniques are still effective, social marketing has become an increasingly important tool for businesses and organizations.

Social marketing is a relatively new concept that has been proven to be an effective way to reach and engage potential customers. Unlike traditional marketing techniques that rely on interruption and push tactics, social marketing relies on engaging potential customers where they already are – on social media.

Through this form of marketing, businesses, and organizations can build relationships with potential customers and create a connection that goes beyond the transaction. By creating content that is interesting and engaging, businesses can attract potential customers to their brand and build loyalty among current customers.

There are a number of theories and models that guide social marketing efforts, but one of the most important is the Social Marketing Wheel. This model was developed by Nedra Weinreich and outlines the six key components of social marketing: research, strategy development, program planning, program implementation, evaluation, and sustainability.

When used correctly, social marketing can be an incredibly effective way to reach and engage potential customers.

Social marketing principles

Social marketing is a branch of marketing that seeks to achieve social change by applying commercial marketing techniques to achieve specific behavioral goals for social good.

The social marketing process typically begins with the identification of a social problem, which leads to the development of a targeted intervention. The intervention is then implemented and evaluated for its effectiveness in achieving the desired behavioral change.

There are several different theoretical frameworks that guide social marketing interventions. The most common is the reasoned action approach, the theory of planned behavior, and the health belief model.

The reasoned action approach posits that people make decisions about whether or not to engage in behavior based on their attitudes and beliefs about that behavior. The theory of planned behavior adds the concept of perceived Behavioral Control, or the individual’s perception of their ability to successfully engage in the behavior, to the reasoned action framework. The health belief model posits that people make decisions about whether or not to engage in behavior based on their beliefs about the consequences of that behavior.

The effectiveness of social marketing interventions can be improved by targeting specific population segments, using multiple communication channels, and tailoring messages to fit local cultural norms and values.

Social marketing programs

Most are designed to improve specific health or social problem. For example, a program might be implemented to increase the number of people who get vaccinated against the flu. To do this, the program might provide free vaccinations, education about the importance of vaccination, or both.

Social marketing for public health

There are many ways to use social marketing in public health. Here are a few examples:

  1. Use social media to raise awareness about a health issue.
  2. Use targeted ads to reach people who are at risk for a health condition.
  3. Another example of social marketing in public health can be to create campaigns that encourage people to get screened for a particular health condition.
  4. Social marketing in health care can also occur when a company, Non-profit, or government works with partners to create messages that promote healthy behaviors.

Social Marketing vs Commercial Marketing: Differences and Similarities

There is a big difference between social marketing and commercial marketing. Social marketing is about creating a social or societal change, while commercial marketing is about selling products or services. Both play an important role in our economy, but they have different goals.


  • Both involve planning and strategies
  • Both use persuasion
  • Both use some form of communication to reach their target audience


  • Social marketing’s goal is to create social change, while commercial marketing’s goal is to sell products or services
  • Social marketing uses behavior change techniques, while commercial marketing uses traditional advertising techniques
  • Social marketing is about changing people’s perceptions and behaviors, while commercial marketing is about convincing people to buy a product or service

Social marketing vs Societal marketing

  1. Social marketing seeks to influence behaviors for the greater good, rather than for personal gain whereas societal marketing seeks to be inclusive of the company’s profit, customer satisfaction, and society’s welfare.
  2. Social marketing efforts are typically attempting to solve a societal problem, such as illiteracy or environmental degradation.
  3. Social marketing campaigns are usually longer-term than traditional commercial campaigns, lasting several months or years.
  4. Because social marketing relies on persuasion rather than direct selling, its messages must be carefully crafted and delivered in an effective way.

Features of social marketing

  1. It is the use of marketing techniques to promote a desired social change. This is a process that applies commercial marketing strategies to achieve non-commercial goals.
  2. Also used to convince individuals and groups to take action that will improve their lives or the lives of others.
  3. The goals of social marketing are similar to those of other marketing efforts: to increase awareness, change behaviors, and ultimately achieve the desired outcome.