Terminology in the advertising and marketing has become dizzying in a world where consumers create the lasting trends in social marketing rather than products and services simply attracting consumers who have a need for them. Historically, the term “social marketing” has been directly tied to educating the public in an effort to get everyone to buy into a long-term behavior changes that create some common social good.
For example, one piece of social marketing in the late 1970s targeted people who drive or ride in cars and convinced them of the good of wearing seatbelts and driving 55 miles per hour. Many social marketing campaigns even had memorable rhyming slogans like “55 saves lives.” In the 1980s, veemo one of the most popular campaigns was, “Just say no to drugs.” It became a household buzz phrase and was embedded into the parents’ expectations for their children.
The 21st century and social media sites have ushered the world into yet another era and changed the dynamic for how to market to consumers. Functioning at a level of consumer power that is unprecedented, social marketing has become the way in which companies can stay connected to their primary buying markets and allow those markets to have some viable input into decisions about branding, slogans and logos, new products and services and delivery methods. The feedback companies receive directly from consumers enables social marketing managers to make more savvy decisions and invest time and money wisely. Before the popularity of social marketing, many companies simply guessed about the effectiveness of campaigns or did not exactly know how to market their products to get the most return from potential customers.
A recent example that showed the sheer effectiveness of social marketing came in 2010 when GAP, a national clothing chain, decided to change its decades-old logo. Once consumers on social media networks weighed in and let management know that they dislike the change, company representatives sponsored a design competition which gave the average person a chance to help drive the future. Though this did not set well with design professionals, and though GAP changed its logo back to the original widely recognized colors and font in just seven days, it signaled a power trend in social marketing. It was clear that any major company change which did not include the opinions of consumers connected through social networks could be in danger of attack.
Social marketing in its modern context attempts to keep companies connected to the people who buy products from them. It empowers the loyal buyer and enables him to stay informed and on top of any new changes. Old marketing formulas that predicted who was most likely to purchase an item no longer fit into the modern marketing landscape.