Steering Around Skepticism to Be Effective Social Marketers

How many of you have wondered why some people get a flu shot and others decline, why some people exercise and others do not, or why some people recycle and others don’t bother?

Life is all about choice. We consistently choose some products over others, whether it’s soda or shoes —often because of our brand loyalty or relationship with the product.

Behaviors are the same way, and social marketing — which, like traditional product marketing, builds relationships with audiences — is the sales tool. Social marketing’s current threat? Cynicism.

Last week, the World Social Marketing Conference looked at what the future holds for social marketing and how those of us engaged in this work can steer around the skepticism so inherent in today’s society.

We start with a few tips on being resourceful in social marketing:

1. Dig in deep with your audience. Humans are social beings. We need to create relationships with our audience, and to do that, we need to understand them better. Think small and think in segments. Don’t just look at the demographics of the audience; consider the psychographics as well. Talk to the people you are trying to reach. What are their values? What is their culture? What are their aspirations, needs and wants? There is power in getting personal.

2. Make the exchange irresistible. As communication experts, we know how crucial it is to communicate to the audience why they should participate in our social marketing campaign, or “buy” into our brand. The behavior exchange is all about outweighing the barriers with the benefits and making the rewards greater than the costs. The behavior should be both feasible and desirable.

3. Partner compelling data with inspiring stories. People don’t change their behavior based on facts alone. With the emergence of concerns about “fake” news, modern consumers require authentic stories from real people. Incorporating storytelling and sharing inspiring testimonials along with facts and data creates a human connection to drive change.

Vanguard Communications is a Hispanic woman-owned public relations and social marketing firm whose work is powered by and for people — the individuals, families and communities whose voices are the fuel for change. For 30 years, Vanguard has worked in the areas of health, wellness, energy, environment, education, international development, and diversity and inclusion to foster healthy communities and a thriving planet.

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