Social Marketing Secrets

by Watkins Olson

Question: Is social norms marketing the same thing as media advocacy? Answer: Social norms marketing and media advocacy are two different strategies. Media advocacy is the strategic use of mass media to support community organizing to advance a social or policy initiative. While media advocacy efforts may take many forms, often they involve organizing attention-getting events to stimulate news coverage of an issue.Social norms marketing uses survey data collected on individual campuses to educate students about the actual level of drinking on that campus among their peers. It has been shown that students consistently overestimate the level of drinking among their peers, which then creates pressure to drink up to the norm. Once students misperceptions of the norm are corrected, drinking levels on campus appear to go down by about 20%.

What about the researchers that say Social Norms Marketing doesn’t work? Just like any form of research, Social Norms Marketing has been met with some criticisms. To hear responses from the experts, please refer to the articles at Response rates vary depending on what type of research is conducted. We feel that a 50% response rate is a good measure to use in our research with the Health Promotion survey.

What exactly is Social Norms Marketing? Essentially, the social norms approach uses a variety of methods to correct negative misperceptions, and to identify, model and promote the health, protective behaviors that are, in fact, the demonstrable norm among students. When properly conducted, it is an evidence-based, data-driven process, and a very cost-effective method of achieving large-scale positive results. Yes! Numerous colleges have seen positive results from their Social Norms Marketing campaigns, including right here at UVa.Response rates vary depending on what type of research is conducted. We feel that a 50% response rate is a good measure to use in our research with the Health Promotion survey. We also weight the data so that it corresponds appropriately with the demographics of the UVa undergraduate population as provided by the Office of Institutional Assessment and Studies.

Question: What is social marketing? Answer: Social marketing is the application of commercial marketing and advertising principles to the design and implementation of mass media campaigns to advance social causes. Like commercial marketing, social marketing uses research to precisely tailor messages for a particular target audience.Response rates vary depending on what type of research is conducted. We feel that a 50% response rate is a good measure to use in our research with the Health Promotion survey.

How do you go about administering the surveys at UVa? The Health Promotion survey is administered annually to a random stratified sample of UVa undergraduate students via a web-based application. The survey is anonymous and voluntary. Each participate in the sample receives a letter and token of appreciation in the mail, inviting them to log on to the URL and take a web-based survey. Reminder e-mails and postcards are sent to all participants over a four week period.Just like any form of research, Social Norms Marketing has been met with some criticisms.

What is the timeline of a well designed social norms marketing intervention? Clearly, given all of the essential elements outlined above (see question 11), a well designed social norms marketing intervention represents a serious commitment in terms of staff and time. It is important to remember that the social norms approach is a data-driven, integrated process.

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