In a world where technology increasingly drives the way we communicate to our stakeholders, marketers are becoming more aware of the need to be socially responsible in their messaging. Social marketing is a very particular kind of bi-directional communication where the message is put out into cyberspace, and the audience is called to action (review it, like it, comment on it, share it, etc.). In the last year, consumers have taken notice of companies that are pushing the envelope and including strong, and at times, bold marketing messages. These messages have a clear call to action – some of which are urging accountability and responsibility.
Countless examples of this were evident in the Super Bowl ads this year. For instance, Nationwide tackled social marketing with an emotionally packed 30-second spot featuring an adorable little boy talking about all he will miss out on in life because he died due to a preventable accident at home. This campaign went viral and received very mixed public reaction. As a marketing professional and instructor, I found the commercial intriguing – as it facilitates a deeper conversation – it gets people talking. This form of “fire starter” conversation is the very heart of social marketing. The issue that comes into play is, are companies ready to hear what the consumer has to say about it? Public scrutiny can raise a lot of concerns internally, so any campaign that potentially leads to negative comments needs to be explored thoroughly and supported by the organization as a whole.