The Difference Between Social Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Social marketing may sound familiar, but we mustn’t confuse it with the all too popular social media marketing, which involves using social media to help promote businesses. But we shouldn’t forget the concept and technique of marketing altogether, here. Social marketing involves using effective marketing techniques to influence the social behavior of a group of people. The goal is to induce behavioral changes that will benefit society or help advance a social cause.


A Deeper Look at Social Marketing


While the term may seem new, it’s really not and, in fact, social marketing has been around for several decades. In 1971, Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman introduced the concept and gave it its name, when their article, “Social Marketing: An Approach to Planned Social Change,” was published in the Journal of Marketing. The article resulted in a growing trend of looking for ways to use marketing concepts to encourage social change. While many causes are benefited through social marketing, health and ecology are the top concerns for social marketers.

At its core, the primary focus of social marketing is to make the world better for the majority. The campaign to prohibit smoking in public buildings is an example of a social marketing plan that succeeded.


Other Concepts Easily Confused with Social Marketing


While the similar names are responsible for many confusing social marketing and social media marketing, other types of marketing are also confused with social marketing. One such practice is sustainable marketing. In sustainable marketing, a business will promote a cause or issue as a means of marketing their own products. For example, when a cosmetics company launches a campaign to educate the public about proper skin care, they’re doing so as a means of advertising their own skin care concepts. Because the campaign is intended to benefit the company, it cannot be considered true social marketing.


Commercial marketing may also be confused with social marketing, though the two concepts are very dissimilar. Of course, commercial marketing is employed to push a product or service. While the business may support a cause in the process, their main intent is to make money.

The goal of social marketing is to better society for all, or for the majority. While other types of marketing may also hope to encourage change, their motives are for profit and that goes against the concept of social marketing. The motives, as much as the intent, defines true social marketing.