What is Social Marketing?

By Bridget McNulty

Social marketing is what we do here at Treeshake, but it’s not necessarily a term everyone is familiar with. In essence, social marketing is marketing for impact: creating campaigns for change that actually make a difference. What we like about the term is that social refers to the community we build around each campaign, but also the method we use to build that community - social media. And while marketing has many faces, social marketing is about connecting to a deeper meaning and creating something with the potential to change the world.

Socially integrated marketing

That sounds lofty, but consider the world we find ourselves in today. Marketing is increasingly moving in a more socially integrated way. Brands used to be accountable solely to shareholders, but these days you have to answer to consumers, employees, media, government agencies, regulators - you name it. What this means is that you’re no longer in control of the media as you used to be. The media industrial complex used to allow you to make a product, buy ads, drive more demand, make more product. That’s no longer true.

Make it easy for people to talk about you

Supply chain stories, ethical issues, and how you conduct yourself in business are increasingly playing a role in whether someone interacts with your brand and buys your product. You need to give people a reason to speak about what you’re doing. It used to be about broadcasting who you are and what you do: the megaphone effect. These days, it’s about making it easy for other people to talk about you: the whisper effect. While you can and you should spend a certain amount of budget on paid media, by far the most persuasive advertising is word of mouth, and word of mouse.

What’s your deeper issue?

So how do you get people talking about and connecting with your brand? By finding the deeper issue. For years, marketers have been operating in the attention economy. But the attention economy is both breaking us as humans, and it’s broken. It’s working less and less.

You need to get people’s attention by earning their trust and helping to transform their lives. By giving people a way to continue talking about you. The best way to do this is if they believe in what you’re doing.

Do you believe in what you’re doing? What are you doing? We can help you find out.