You were invited to be a resource person to a group of Grade 8 students who are to implement a project on social marketing and social mobilization. But in order for them to do this, they need to know the basics of these two concepts/activities. How would you describe social marketing and social mobilization to these students?

Social Marketing

Social Marketing is the use and application of commercial marketing principles to sell ideas, acceptable products, and practices to people or targeted audiences in order to influence their behavior for their personal welfare and of society. In other words, it is like selling a new iPhone to an eager consumer because of its new features, but instead of selling an iPhone, Social Marketing is selling good values and ideas to the people in order for them to get its perks and be able to put the ideas and values into good use.

Social Mobilization

Social Mobilization is an umbrella of Social Marketing that utilizes the participation of the people in order to raise awareness to a particular issue and bring about social change. Social Mobilization is powered by the social movement of the people in different local, regional, national, and international sectors with a common program, advocacy, or idea to support. It is like telling the world that the new iPhone is cool and that other people think the same way too, but instead, Social Mobilization “moves” people to reach out to a wider audience, tell them about the good values and ideas, and influence others about it.

Implementation of Social Marketing

Social Marketing is implemented to support Social Mobilization. Social Marketing is implemented if there’s a need for it to be carried out. Take for example the new iPhone. If there’s no need for people to know about it, then, there’s no need to create a marketing plan because it defeats the purpose. But, if there’s a need for the market to get to know about the new iPhone, then the entire marketing process will be done.

Social Marketing and Social Mobilization

Social Marketing and Social Mobilization go well together because their primary goal is to “sell” an idea. Social Marketing belongs to the broad domain of Social Mobilization, meaning, communication is an integral part in bringing about social change. The role of Social Marketing is to create a “marketable” package of the idea, product, or services, in order to mobilize the stakeholders to bring about change, to influence, to change other people’s behavior. From designing, positioning, advertising, and promoting, the Social Marketing component is needed in order for Social Mobilization to take a rippling effect. Like the new iPhone, people won’t know about it unless it was packaged properly and that the good things people say about it spread like wildfire. An idea, if not packaged properly, would not reach its intended audience.

The same group of students (Grade 8) asked if it is possible that in their social marketing/social mobilization program, they would target all of the 100 million Filipinos. What will be your answer and explain your answer.

It is vaguely possible to target all of the 100 million Filipinos in a social marketing or social mobilization program but it is possible to reach out to the majority. It takes a lot of time for a certain idea or behavior to come through especially when there is a mix of different cultures, age groups, race, religion, etc. The best possible way to target the majority of the Filipino population is to be able to study the market properly and to carry out carefully crafted plans of action for a strategic social marketing or social mobilization program.

Changes take effect in a gradual manner and it will not happen to 100 million Filipinos overnight. The social marketing program should be created to suit the entire population, to influence the people that the “idea” that we are selling is of great significance, to go to the very basic unit and be able to show a child that the “idea” is worth pondering on. The social mobilization approaches should be all utilized for the plan of reaching 100 million Filipinos to become a reality – political, government, community, corporate, and beneficiaries, all mobilized to make one idea stand out.

Every aspect of social marketing and social mobilization must be considered in order to create a plan that suits the Filipino audience and a lot of testing, monitoring, and evaluations are needed to promote a certain program/campaign and for it to be accepted and be able to elicit some changes. But it is not entirely impossible to reach the 100 million Filipinos. All it takes is knowledge, dedication, and skills to go through the process of making something relevant.

Like the new iPhone, almost everyone knows about it – the entire world knows about it. It’s the packaging of the idea and the utilization of resources that made it matter to the people. Reaching millions is never an overstatement.

What are the lessons and insights from the implementation of your term project.

1. It is important to be specific in defining the audience. One of the first few things done in creating a social marketing plan is to identify the target audiences using environmental scanning and audience analysis or segmentation. Extensive readings and research is needed to classify, categorize, and identify the target in order for a particular social marketing program to be made possible. Being unable to look at other possible variables or characteristics in a group means there would be a flaw in the marketing program. Identifying the market is essential in developing and maintaining influence to the intended audiences.

2. It is important to give way to mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable and sometimes it is okay to accept that they are present in every job or project. It is not always about perfection or perfecting the social marketing plan in order for it to be flawless. Mistakes happen. It is about learning through those mistakes and avoiding making them again in future projects. It is always important to expect that things won’t turn out the way it was planned. If a plan was made to be error-free, then there is no point of creating a plan, testing it, and evaluating it.

3. It is important to document everything to serve as a guide for future purposes. Documentation, apart from the actual monitoring and evaluation in a social marketing program, is important. Whether little notes or posts about how the project was created, they should be archived. Dates of meetings, interactions, quotes, sayings, random ideas, and ruled-out diagrams are still significant. These are the things that helped build up an idea or a program that is being implemented and it is easier to understand why it was created in the first place. Little clippings of how the entire process of the creation of the project serve as the backbone, a framework that binds everything because of the ideas and conversations that built it. It is in these notes that you could learn from and go back to if in case there are slight errors in a social marketing plan. It is a way to undo and make some small changes while keeping track of the progress of the project.

(Published: December 5, 2015)