All You Need to Know About Social Marketing

by | Jun 29, 2019 | Social Marketing

8 Min Read. |

Marketing is necessary for any business to sell its goods and services. It is inevitable for any brand to do its marketing either online or offline.

But when the same sets of marketing techniques are utilized to market a social cause, well that’s what we call as “Social Marketing”.

Social marketing is nowhere related to Social Media Marketing.

Actually, it existed before the world experienced the internet. Nobody knows the exact date when social marketing was incepted. But the word “Social Marketing” was coined in 1971 by Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman.

So, the first myth about Social Marketing is busted! IT IS NOT SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

What is Social Marketing? Importance of Social Marketing

Social Marketing

Social Marketing

Social marketing is a unique marketing discipline which has the objective to do good to the society.

In social marketing, commercial marketing techniques are used to make a significant change in the behaviour of citizens for the betterment of society.

Social marketing can address any cause which brings positive impact in the society such as global warming, health & wellness of citizens, community development, eradication of superstitious practices, rights of citizens, etc.

Social Marketing Approaches

Social marketing revolves around doing good to society. The main focus of social marketing is to bring a huge impact on society through its marketing techniques.

Social marketing can be urging citizens to use water moderately or urging citizens to exercise regularly to avoid obesity.

But usually social marketing is confused with other forms of marketing which goes beyond social media marketing such as sustainable marketing and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) of organizations.

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Let’s how these marketing types aren’t social marketing;

1. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the marketing of products and services using social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. 

This kind of marketing is purely for commercial purpose. Brands’ create strong content to connect to the audience and increase their brand impression.

Though brands create content addressing issues of the society, the objective here is to increase brands’ visibility in the market.

Social media marketing is misunderstood as social marketing, majorly due to the similarity in the name. But, otherwise, there is no similarity between these two kinds of marketing.

2. Commercial Marketing

You might have seen advertisements from “Hindustan Unilever” brand. In the ad, the brand communicates that for every purchase of their product, Hindustan Unilever contributes to one of the social causes.

Another example can be brand recycling plastics. Though it isn’t connected to the sale of their product, the objective is to popularize the brand by supporting a cause.

Brands are supporting a cause and trying to make a difference in society, but the primary objective of the campaign is to popularize the brand. This isn’t social marketing.

3. CSR Activity

CSR Activity

CSR Activity

Every organization in India is compelled to contribute to society through its CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities.

Companies do a lot of activities by involving their employees and give them back to society.

A lot of brands make the most of this opportunity by advertising their activities with innovative campaigns.

Through these marketing techniques, companies earn huge popularity and respect in the society.

Yet again, the primary focus isn’t just to do good to the society. Hence, it isn’t social marketing.

Who does Social Marketing?

As social marketing demands organizations to keep their primary and only focus on the welfare of the society, it can be done by organizations who encompass the high level of passion towards giving back to society. 

Social marketing is usually done government bodies which is responsible to make it’s nation better such as the World Health Organization (WHO), health department, environmental department, traffic police, forest department, etc.

A lot of non-profit organizations (NGOs) also involved in social marketing. NGOs will involve in social marketing when their objectives align with the objective of social marketing.

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Benefits of Social Marketing

Social marketing approaches are all about influencing the behaviour of the public. Importance of social marketing is humongous.

The toughest part is changing the habit of the mass. It is achieved with innovating and thought-provoking campaigns.

Let’s see some of the benefits of social marketing;

(i) Reduce chronic diseases

(ii) Save natural resources

(iii) Improve the quality of air

(iv) Quit addictive habits

(v) Create equal opportunities

(vi) Improve the skill set of public

(vii) Affordable education

Top 5 Case Studies of Social Marketing with Social Marketing Approaches

1. Moderate Usage of Water

Water is a precious resource for humankind. Human bodies comprise of 70% of water and the mother earth is also covered by 70% water.

Still, it is very crucial for humans to use water wisely as the ocean water isn’t suitable for the purpose of usage.

In Arizona, a campaign was commenced in 1999 to educate citizens on the ways to conserve water. It is one of the most successful campaigns which is currently active in more than 400 cities.

2. Piano Stairs

Exercising is crucial to lead a healthy life. Everyone knows it! Still, hardly a few percentages of people practice it in their daily life.

The number one excuse is given is “I have no time to workout”. Agreed, we all lead a busy life. But there are ways to fit in exercise in our daily lives.

The best way to keep up the resolution of being fit is by taking the stairs instead of the escalator or lift. But, the sight near the lifts and escalators shows the other way.

In order to cultivate the habit of taking stairs, Volkswagen came up with a creative idea.

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They painted the stairs of one of the subway stations as a piano and encouraged people to take this creative ride. And the result was huge with 66% more people using the stairs.

3. Buckle Up

Traffic rules are meant for the safety of the public. Instead of acknowledging the importance, most of the citizens see the rules as inconvenient. 

Though there are a lot of measures put by the government in the form of signs, people are smart enough to surpass it.

Another point is the police can’t be there everywhere to monitor the adherence of rules. These things should be taken care of by citizens voluntarily.

Seat Belt

One of the insurance companies came up with a creative Ad to raise awareness among the public.

The ad was a simple image of a guy wearing a black t-shirt with his birth year to death year (current year), but his death year is covered by the seat belt showcasing that a seat belt can save lives.

4. Save Trees

Trees are vital for the survival of humankind. Without trees, there is no oxygen and ultimately no life.

Yet, we the citizens of the earth aren’t very conscious about the reduction of greenery. Trees are being cut to make roads, bridges, and towns. Forests are getting destroyed. Trees are destroyed to manufacture papers.

Save Paper

WWF comes up with unique social marketing approaches to address causes in society. For this issue, WWF came up with an innovative Ad to address this concern.

They made an innovative tissue paper holder with South America’s map in it. The tissues were of green colour.

As and when the tissues were being used, the greenery of South America was diminishing. It gave a clear message on the state of the country if trees are kept being cut to manufacture paper.

5. Skin Color


Racism is a serious issue in society. Nobody should be judged based on the country they are born in, the community they belong to or the colour of their skin.

Having said that, many people in society still pass judgment based on the aforementioned aspects especially skin colour. 

In our society, somehow fair skinned people are given higher cadre compared to dark skinned people. Well, it is just melanin.

Actually, healthier skin is the one with melanin. But apparently, the world is influenced by a pleasant appearance.

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To highlight the judgments being done on skin colour, Lycra came up with a unique Ad which showed the worse scenario of racism. The ad picture 3 infants; 2 fair skinned and 1 dark skinned. 

Fair skinned babies were dressed normally whereas dark-skinned baby was dressed as a janitor. It raised the concern that racism can decide the future of a newborn just based on its skin colour.


Social marketing is the need of the hour. Citizens slowly understand the importance of social marketing. We have so many talented and creative marketers.

If they come up to do good to the society with their skills, the impact will shake the world. 

Everyone knows the major issues of the world which are taking us towards the end of humanity. Yet we decide to do nothing about it as we think this consumes a lot of time of ours.

But marketers can make a huge difference with their creative mind and minimum time as there are a lot of benefits of social marketing

If you are someone who wants to address a social cause and influence peoples’ behaviour and aren’t sure how marketing will help you do this, do a basic digital marketing course.

Along with that study real-life case studies on social marketing. Approach an NGO and present your ideas. With this, you are doing your bit to society.

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