Nedra Weinreich from Spare Change and others, who had been using “social marketing” for decades to refer to the use of marketing to address health and social issues, took issue with the new usage of the terminology – especially when Forrester launched a “Social Marketing Bootcamp” and Jupiter launched a “Social Marketing” practice. Forrester backed down and renamed their bootcamp “Social Computing Boot Camp,” while Jupiter refused to rename it’s practice – fueling the ongoing feud over the use of the terminology.
While it is unclear to me how good a term “social marketing” is to refer to the marketing of social issues – I disliked the new usage of the terminology from the get go.
Using “social marketing” as a catch-all category for the (not-so-new) marketing techniques which include viral marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, community marketing, consumer-generated-content-based marketing, and other social media-based marketing “techniques,” not only “hypes up” the value of those methods unnecessarily – it also engenders the danger for misuse, abuse and the ultimate destruction of those marketing techniques for everyone.
Many clueless and panicky marketers, who have witnessed the decline of marketing programs like email marketing and other interrupt-based marketing methods – which incidentally they destroyed in the first place – will now jump on this latest craze and screw it all up! As usual, they will throw dollars and especially technology at the issue without understanding the underlying fundamentals and ethical considerations that allow those methods work in the first place.
You don’t believe it? By now, the value of word-of-mouth marketing is being threatened by the lack of disclosure by very large and respected marketers like P&G and others. And with so much “fake” consumer-generated content going around, some people are already asking for some sort of “organic labeling” before it is too late. When it comes to “community marketing,” the jury is still out as it is one of the younger hot new marketing memes – but history shows that it will only take time for some clueless marketers to latch on to that one as well and potentially spoil it for the rest of us.
I really hope that Jupiter and other industry analysts and industry associations will show leadership in this space and try to create some sort of self-governance amongst their clients and members – but somehow, and based on the descriptions of those new services, I am not so sure that is part of the agenda.
Hopefully I am wrong!