Most Popular Articles of 2014: On Social Marketing and Social Change

Thank you to the over 35,500 people who have visited this blog over the past year. I am really delighted that you come from all over the world. In 2014, about ⅓ of unique visitors came from the US, followed in the top ten by Great Britain (UK), India, Australia, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa and France (and then another 179 other countries).

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What brings people to this blog? Searching for information or a solution to a problem has a lot to do with it. But whether you are an email subscriber, get a RSS feed, follow new posts on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn), or are one of the searchers, we all share a passion for understanding and learning how to do good better. And for many of us, that means how to apply marketing thinking and techniques to solve the wicked social problems we have chosen to seek answers to (social + marketing).

So what have been people searching for answers to in 2014 that brings them here? Here’s what your colleagues landed on in 2014.

EAST: A Method for Applying Insights in Social Marketing Programs 
EAST (Make behaviors Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely) is the most recent device created by the Behavioural Insights Team to help policy-makers incorporate behavior change principles into policy-making. While it does have some strengths in helping you become a better solution seeker, I also discuss some of its limitations.

How Social Marketing Can Improve the Effectiveness of Social Entrepreneurs 
Like me, you have probably seen or heard about some social entrepreneur who becomes the momentary darling of an organization, funder or social media meme. Once you get past the hype, or wait a year or two, that entrepreneur and their program prove to be less effective than their promotion suggests (if they have any data at all) or they have fallen off the radar (“sweet dreams and flying machines…”). I am continually amazed at how little attention social entrepreneurs seem to pay to basic marketing principles. In this post I review an article that demonstrates how a social marketing analysis and approach could strengthen a program that is designed to encourage environmentally sustainable behaviors.

Demarketing Obesity
I have had several posts on the use of demarketing strategies to reduce unhealthy behaviors. Indeed, a post on The 4Ps of Demarketing Tobacco Use was the overall most viewed post last year (first published in 2009). In Demarketing Obesity I look at how a proposed “nimble” approach to obesity prevention falls short of being effective. Proposed solutions to the obesity problem such as more calorie counting, more explicit nutrition labeling, and banning advertising of junk foods to children may be well intended, but off the mark. What if we applied marketing approaches, and not simply educational and communication ones, to changing the obesogenic environment?

Recharging Tobacco Control Efforts 
Tobacco control efforts headline global approaches to the wicked problem of the growing prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. In the US, tobacco control efforts are getting a boost from the FDA and the launch of its The Real Cost campaign. This post highlights the Persona for the campaign and other elements of its strategy along with links to campaign materials. However, a strong community teffort is also needed to complement these efforts, and I look at the latest evidence for best practices in community-based tobacco control programs.

The Future of Social Marketing: Craig’s Happiness Talk 
This post and accompanying video are from the 2014 USF Social Marketing Conference. In them I pick up on the theme of how the deliberate use of social marketing could lead to positive changes in personal well being and national happiness indicators.

Guidelines for the Review of Social Marketing Papers 
Students, instructors, program managers, journal reviewers and editors will find a set of questions (or scoring criteria) that I use in guiding and grading student projects in my advanced social marketing class. It can also be a useful checklist for practitioners who want to benchmark themselves and their programs: “How well am I doing social marketing?”

The Purpose of Segmentation
The purpose of segmentation is to identify differences among groups that will drive how we approach and tailor our marketing solution. I also discuss and link to a study that found more potential harm from not segmenting; the “one size fits all” approach can actually deepen disparities among population groups.

Marketing that Improves the Practices of Health Care Professionals 
Providing information and behavior change programs through the “swamped channel” of health care professionals is the topic. What social marketing principles can be used to help improve health care practices?

Social Marketing and Social Change: A Review 
This is a review of my book Social Marketing and Social Change that appeared in Health Promotion Practice.
“[Craig] begins the book by connecting the purposes of social marketing and why people choose a profession in public health and health promotion: “How can I change the world? How can I make the world a better place?” He discusses how social marketing addresses these questions in 14 chapters, using theories, research, examples, case studies, and his extensive personal experience in social marketing for more than 25 years, both nationally and internationally.” 

Download a free first chapter of the book (pdf)

Academic Competencies for Social Marketing  
Following on the Consensus Definition of Social Marketing established in 2013 by the professional social marketing associations, academic competencies for social marketers were developed and approved by them in 2014. The competencies provide a set of participant-focused benchmarks for the development of course curricula and certificate completion requirements. A must read for students to assess the quality of courses and programs in social marketing and for the faculty who design and deliver them.

Once you refresh your memory, or catch up with these 10, stay tuned for more to come in 2015. Next up: the best social marketing papers of 2014.

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