In the contemporary world, social marketing has become an integral part of public health. The number of people who consume information on social media increased significantly. More than 60% of people who use the internet engage in social networking sites. This has increased the important of social media in public health. It may be used to promote health and disease prevention. As such, it acts as a critical tool in public health communication strategy.
The concept of social marketing has evolved over time. Despite the fact that the concept of social marketing has evolved over time, the essence of marketing has remained integral to the concept. Some of the major features of social marketing include the fact that it is meant for a target audience and is meant for the good of the society. In addition, it relies on the principle of marketing mix strategies – price, place, product, and promotion.
The principles and techniques of social marketing may be applied to public health in different ways. Social marketing may be used in health promotion and related behavioral issues. The health issues include use of tobacco, obesity, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. It may also be used in injury prevention and related behavioral issues. These include drink driving, domestic violence, school violence and household poisons. It may also be used in environmental protection and related behavioral issues. These include waste reduction and habitat protection. Social media may also help in community mobilization and related behavioral issues. These include organ donation and blood donation (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2009).
The major aim of social marketing campaigns is behavioral change. Social marketing is more effective when it is integrated with the conventional health communication channels. This is due to the fact that establishment of social media does not imply that the traditional health communication and promotion channels are no longer effective. Social media helps in reaching the targeted audience. It also helps in reaching a diverse audience (Heldman, Schindelar, Weaver, 2012).
Social marketing campaigns facilitate the sharing of public health information in new spaces. It facilitates the testing of how the messages resonate in various spaces. In addition, it enables the messages to be visible to multiple users. Use of social media enables public health organizations to share information in spaces where people are already spending their time. This enables public health organizations to reach a large audience.
Ten steps are involved in the development of social marketing campaigns. The first step is the definition of the public health problem and purpose and focus of the social marketing campaign. The second step is the undertaking a situation analysis. A SWOT analysis is usually used in undertaking a situation analysis. The third step is selecting the target audience. The target audience is selected through segmentation. The fourth step is setting the marketing objectives and goals. The fifth step is the identification of factors that influence the adoption of behavior. This would help in overcoming the barriers to behavioral change. The sixth step is the definition of a position statement of the marketing campaign. The seventh step is the development of the marketing mix strategies – the 4Ps. The marketing mix strategies should be developed in a systematic order starting with the product strategy, price strategy, place strategy and promotion strategy. The eighth step is outlining a plan on how to monitor and evaluate the social marketing campaign. The ninth step is the establishment of budgets and looking for source of funds of the social marketing campaign whereas the tenth step is the completion of the plan implementation of the social marketing campaign (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2009)..
Successful marketing campaigns should be able to change the behavior of their target market. They should be designed in such a manner that they reach the target audience. The message should also be conveyed in a method that the target audience can easily understand. Strategy variations usually occur in different target populations. It may necessitate the marketing campaign to use different social media sites. This would enable the marketing campaign to reach the target audience (Heldman, Schindelar, Weaver, 2012).
The health of a country may be affected by the health of other countries. This is highlighted by the SARS epidemic of 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in west Africa of 2014 has not yet been fully contained. This has necessitated other countries to use a global approach in addressing the issues of public health. The fight against malaria through the issue of mosquito nets in Kenya is an example of use of a global approach in tackling issues on public health. Polio vaccination in Africa is also an example of a global approach of enhancing public health (Cheng, Kotler & Lee, 2009).
The U.S. is going global to enhance public health. The government has implemented various initiatives that strive to improve the health of people within and outside the U.S. The U.S. supports various malaria eradication programs in Africa. It also supports initiatives that strive to tackle HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Going global enables the U.S. to tackle the health problems in the countries. This ensures that the diseases do not affect the U.S. This is highlighted by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The disease spread to the U.S. leading to the death of two people.
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