|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Social media Public health Social media marketing Behavior change|
The similarities and differences between social media and social marketing are apparent when one examines the definition of both of these terms. Social media can be defined as a communication platform that allows users to share information and to network (Sajad, 2017; Serpil, 2019). There are various types of social media platforms or tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Blogs, and Flicker (Hugo, 2015; Khosrow-Pour, 2018). On the other hand, the term social marketing refers to the use of commercial marketing technologies to analyze, plan, execute, and evaluate programs aimed at influencing the voluntary behavior of target audiences (Shams, 2018). The focus of social marketing is to improve the target audience's personal welfare and that of society as a whole (Shams, 2018). These definitions show that social media and social marketing share some things in common. First, the target audience is the public, society, or many people. Second, social marketing can use social media for its marketing success.
From the above definitions, it can be concluded that the difference between social media and social marketing is that the former is a tool or platform (e.g., Twitter and Facebook). However, the latter is the use of these tools to promote specific products, services, or ideas. In public health campaigns, social marketing can be manifested through the use of Twitter or Facebook platforms to warn the public about the detrimental adverse effects of smoking. By sharing posts related to the negative health consequences of tobacco smoking through social media tools, a health campaigner engages in social marketing. Another difference between social media and social marketing is that the former is used for networking or sharing information. In contrast, the latter is used to change a person's behavior for his or her benefit or the community as a whole.
Strengths and Limitations of Using Social Media Tools in the Dissemination of Information Regarding Public Health Programs
One of the potential benefits of using social media tools to disseminate information related to public health programs is that it is capable of reaching or connecting millions of people (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Social media's ability to reach many people is beneficial in many ways. First, by reaching millions of individuals, it ensures that there is rapid and timely sharing of health-related information with a potentially positive impact on the health of the target population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Second, disseminating health information via such platforms facilitates information sharing because, in most of social media tools, users can share information (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
Third, social media's capacity to reach many people implies that it is capable of reaching more diverse audiences (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Fourth, by being capable of reaching a broad audience, such tools are capable of empowering the target audience to make safe and healthy decisions. Moreover, people within the same network can interact with one another regarding a specific health issue. Lastly, social media tools allow for personalized health messages aimed at specific audiences (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011).
Despite the potential benefit discussed above, social media tools have also been found to have some limitations. One of the pitfalls associated with the use of social media tools is that the ability of users to share content, make comments about a particular post, and generate their content may lead to the dissemination of incorrect information (Bode & Vraga, 2018; Jane et al., 2018; Wang et al., 2019). That is, if those tasked with disseminating health information about a particular health issue are not keen to monitor comments related to their postings, there is an increased likelihood that their health promotion efforts may be diluted by conflicting or competing information.
For example, a health promoter or campaigner may publish a post that educates parents on the need for their children to participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per day. Still, one of the target audiences may urge others to ignore the same because that would "amount to punishing children." Therefore, some of social media users may not adhere to the recommended duration of physical exercise in children thinking that it is not empirically validated. In this case, it is recommended that experts should be used to correct health misinformation (Vraga & Bode, 2017).
An Explanation of How I will use Social Marketing in My SPP
My SPP is focused on the need to reverse the growing and high prevalence of childhood obesity in the State of Alabama. In the proposed study, I will develop a social marketing campaign referred to as the 'Alabama Children's Movement.' The campaign will incorporate six attributes of social marketing. The first attribute is the presence of a specific behavior change goal (Shams, 2018). In the proposed campaign, the goal will be to ensure that children increase their level of physical activity by increasing parental and teachers' knowledge and awareness of the recommended level of physical activity in children. The second aspect of social marketing is the presence of consumer research to inform the intervention (Shams, 2018). In the proposed campaign, a community needs assessment will inform the physical intervention.
The third social marketing criterion is targeted interventions or segmentation of crucial variables (Shams, 2018). For instance, the proposed campaign may design age-appropriate physical exercise activities. Fourth, social marketing must incorporate more than one element of the marketing mix (Dunleavy et al., 2018). In the proposed campaign, the promotion of physical exercise will be done through the training of parents and teachers on the recommended level of physical activities in children, pamphlets, and social media. The fifth attribute of social marketing is the use of the 'exchange' concept.' This will be achieved by teaching parents and teachers the positive impact of physical exercise in children. Lastly, the campaign will employ the 'competition' concept by emphasizing the fun aspect of physical activity compared to sedentary leisure pursuits.
Bode, L., & Vraga, E. K. (2018). See something, say something: Correction of global health misinformation on social media. Health Communication, 33(9), 1131-1140. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2017.1331312
Dunleavy, L., Walshe, C., Oriani, A., & Preston, N. (2018). Using the "Social Marketing Mix Framework" to explore recruitment barriers and facilitators in palliative care randomized controlled trials? A narrative synthesis review. Palliative Medicine, 32(5), 990-1009. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269216318757623
Hugo, A. (2015). Cases on strategic social media utilization in the nonprofit sector. IGI Global.
Jane, M., Hagger, M., Foster, J., Ho, S., & Pal, S. (2018). Social media for health promotion and weight management: A critical debate. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 932. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5837-3
Khosrow-Pour, M. (Ed.). (2018). Encyclopedia of information science and technology (Fourth edition). IGI Global / Engineering Science Reference.
Sajad, R. (2017). Apps management and e-commerce transactions in real-time. IGI Global.
Serpil, K. (2019). New media and visual communication in social networks. IGI Global.
Shams, M. (2018). Social marketing for health: Theoretical and conceptual considerations. In M. Haider & H. N. Platter (Eds.), Selected Issues in Global Health Communications. InTech. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.76509
Vraga, E. K., & Bode, L. (2017). Using expert sources to correct health misinformation in social media. Science Communication, 39(5), 621-645. https://doi.org/10.1177/1075547017731776
Wang, Y., McKee, M., Torbica, A., & Stuckler, D. (2019). Systematic literature review on the spread of health-related misinformation on social media. Social Science & Medicine, 240, 112552. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112552
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