Special thanks to Isla McKetta for writing the lion's share of the guide, to Trevor Klein for writing a couple of chapters and wrangling the project, to Derric Wise, Kevin Engle, and Abe Schmidt for their fantastic illustrations (and for bringing Carl the Content Cat to life!), to Lisa Wildwood for her keen editing eyes, and to Ronell Smith and Christy Correll for their additional reviews.


Health promotion campaigns began applying social marketing in practice in the 1980s. In the United States, The National High Blood Pressure Education Program[11] and the community heart disease prevention studies in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and at Stanford University[12] demonstrated the effectiveness of the approach to address population-based risk factor behaviour change. Notable early developments also took place in Australia. These included the Victoria Cancer Council developing its anti-tobacco campaign "Quit" (1988) and "SunSmart" (1988), its campaign against skin cancer which had the slogan "Slip! Slop! Slap!"[13]
In mid 2016, an Indian tea company (TE-A-ME) has delivered 6,000 tea bags[28] to Donald Trump and launched a video content on YouTube and Facebook. The video campaign received various awards including most creative PR stunt[29] in Southeast Asia after receiving 52000+ video shares, 3.1M video view in first 72-hour and hundreds of publication mentions (including Mashable, Quartz,[30] Indian Express,[31] Buzzfeed[32]) across 80+ countries.
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Many scholars ascribe the beginning of the field of social marketing to an article published by G.D. Wiebe in the Winter 1951-1952 edition of Public Opinion Quarterly.[30] In it, Wiebe posed a rhetorical question: "Why can’t you sell brotherhood and rational thinking like you can sell soap?” He then went on to discuss what he saw as the challenges of attempting to sell a social good as if it were a commodity, thus identifying social marketing (though he did not label it as such) as a discipline unique from c mmodity marketing. Yet, Wilkie & Moore (2003)[31] note that the marketing discipline has been involved with questions about the intersection of marketing and society since its earliest days as a discipline.
In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this content.
Cross-platform measurement: The number of marketing channels continues to expand, as measurement practices are growing in complexity. A cross-platform view must be used to unify audience measurement and media planning. Market researchers need to understand how the Omni-channel affects consumer's behaviour, although when advertisements are on a consumer's device this does not get measured. Significant aspects to cross-platform measurement involves de-duplication and understanding that you have reached an incremental level with another platform, rather than delivering more impressions against people that have previously been reached (Whiteside, 2016).[43] An example is ‘ESPN and comScore partnered on Project Blueprint discovering the sports broadcaster achieved a 21% increase in unduplicated daily reach thanks to digital advertising’ (Whiteside, 2016).[43] Television and radio industries are the electronic media, which competes with digital and other technological advertising. Yet television advertising is not directly competing with online digital advertising due to being able to cross platform with digital technology. Radio also gains power through cross platforms, in online streaming content. Television and radio continue to persuade and affect the audience, across multiple platforms (Fill, Hughes, & De Franceso, 2013).[46]

"Price" refers to what the consumer must do in order to obtain the social marketing product. This cost may be monetary, or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangibles, such as time or effort, or to risk embarrassment and disapproval. If the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted. However, if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.
Data-driven advertising: Users generate a lot of data in every step they take on the path of customer journey and Brands can now use that data to activate their known audience with data-driven programmatic media buying. Without exposing customers' privacy, users' Data can be collected from digital channels (e.g.: when customer visits a website, reads an e-mail, or launches and interact with brand's mobile app), brands can also collect data from real world customer interactions, such as brick and mortar stores visits and from CRM and Sales engines datasets. Also known as People-based marketing or addressable media, Data-driven advertising is empowering brands to find their loyal customers in their audience and deliver in real time a much more personal communication, highly relevant to each customers' moment and actions.[39]

Another challenge is the sheer scope and scale of digital marketing. There are so many great digital marketing techniques ranging from search, social and email marketing to improve the digital experience of your website. Our article, What is digital marketing? shows how by using our RACE planning framework you can define a more manageable number of digital marketing activities which cover the full customer journey. Within each digital marketing technique, there are lots of detailed tactics that are important to success, so they need to be evaluated and prioritized, for example from dynamic content for email automation, website personalization to programmatic, retargeting and skyscraper content for organic search.

One way marketers can reach out to consumers, and understand their thought process is through what is called an empathy map. An empathy map is a four step process. The first step is through asking questions that the consumer would be thinking in their demographic. The second step is to describe the feelings that the consumer may be having. The third step is to think about what the consumer would say in their situation. The final step is to imagine what the consumer will try to do based on the other three steps. This map is so marketing teams can put themselves in their target demographics shoes.[70] Web Analytics are also a very important way to understand consumers. They show the habits that people have online for each website.[71] One particular form of these analytics is predictive analytics which helps marketers figure out what route consumers are on. This uses the information gathered from other analytics, and then creates different predictions of what people will do so that companies can strategize on what to do next, according to the peoples trends.[72]


The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product."[18] Content on the blog included how to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interview and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." Popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."[19]
Organic products have shifted from being a lifestyle choice for a small share of consumers to being consumed at least occasionally by a majority of Americans. National surveys conducted by the Hartman Group and Food Marketing Institute during the early 2000s found that two-thirds of surveyed shoppers bought organically grown foods. For a literature review of organic consumer studies, see the ERS report:
Social media websites are among the most valuable resources a business can have. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are chock full of members of your niche audience and other potential customers waiting to be found — so be sure to share your content with them! It can even help answer many of their questions while simultaneously establishing your credibility.
Not all social marketing campaigns are effective everywhere. For example, anti-smoking campaigns such as World No Tobacco Day while being successful (in concert with government tobacco controls) in curbing the demand for tobacco products in North America and in parts of Europe, have been less effective in other parts of the world such as China, India and Russia.[26] (See also: Prevalence of tobacco consumption)

The new digital era has enabled brands to selectively target their customers that may potentially be interested in their brand or based on previous browsing interests. Businesses can now use social media to select the age range, location, gender and interests of whom they would like their targeted post to be seen by. Furthermore, based on a customer's recent search history they can be ‘followed’ on the internet so they see advertisements from similar brands, products and services,[40] This allows businesses to target the specific customers that they know and feel will most benefit from their product or service, something that had limited capabilities up until the digital era.
For example, to implement PPC using Google AdWords, you'll bid against other companies in your industry to appear at the top of Google's search results for keywords associated with your business. Depending on the competitiveness of the keyword, this can be reasonably affordable, or extremely expensive, which is why it's a good idea to focus building your organic reach, too.
The "sharing economy" refers to an economic pattern that aims to obtain a resource that is not fully utilized.[73] Nowadays, the sharing economy has had an unimagined effect on many traditional elements including labor, industry, and distribution system.[73] This effect is not negligible that some industries are obviously under threat.[73][74] The sharing economy is influencing the traditional marketing channels by changing the nature of some specific concept including ownership, assets, and recruitment.[74]

To drive instant traffic to your website: Unlike organic social marketing, paid social ads instantly deliver results. The moment your ad goes live on social channels, you will get to see a large number of visitors on your web pages. Paid social ads are therefore ideal when you are planning to make a new announcement or if you are launching a new product/service for your brand.


The new digital era has enabled brands to selectively target their customers that may potentially be interested in their brand or based on previous browsing interests. Businesses can now use social media to select the age range, location, gender and interests of whom they would like their targeted post to be seen by. Furthermore, based on a customer's recent search history they can be ‘followed’ on the internet so they see advertisements from similar brands, products and services,[40] This allows businesses to target the specific customers that they know and feel will most benefit from their product or service, something that had limited capabilities up until the digital era.

I still believe that Facebook and Google are great platforms to promote your business, but only if you are willing to pay. If your goal is Organic growth, I recommend looking at newer platforms such as Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium, Instagram, Tumblr and similar. These are all established platforms that still offer some opportunities for organic reach, because although popular, they are nowhere near the saturation levels of Facebook and Google. You can also look at startups that you feel will become very successful in the future, take a small gamble perhaps and try to establish a strong presence there.

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