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Difference Between Social Marketing and Health Communication

The relationship between social marketing and health communication is paramount. This is as a result of the importance of social marketing in influencing health behaviour. Social marketers hence apply various health communication strategies on mass media, interpersonal and other modes of communication for dissemination, promotions, message placements and community-level outreach. Despite this, the two have differences as outlined in this article. 

What is Social marketing?

This is marketing designed to create social change through raising awareness for a cause or problem and also convince the audience of the importance of specific behavioural changes. This kind of marketing does not benefit a brand in any way. To create the desired change in society, social marketing sells a lifestyle or behaviour that benefits the society as opposed to selling a product. 

Examples of causes that apply social marketing include;

  • Safe driving
  • Anti-drugs
  • Anti-smoking
  • Healthy eating and exercise
  • Anti-deforestation
  • Anti-bullying
  • Fighting gender stereotypes

Like any other marketing strategy, social marketing has essential elements, commonly referred to as the 4 Ps. They include: 

  • Product- The product in this case is social action as well as the benefit it offers.  
  • Price- The price doesn’t have to be monetary. This should be based on hindrances faced by performing a certain behaviour in society. 
  • Place- Although this can mean a physical location that is easily accessible to the society, it can also imply easy methods for reaching the target audience such as a 24/7 helpline. 
  • Promotion- This involves the best channels for reaching the audience. It can be via radio, social media, events, television and billboards, just to name a few. 

Although the majority of social marketing campaigns are initiated by charities and non-profit organizations, emergency services, highway safety coalitions, government organizations and commercial brands also run campaigns they are passionate about and those which will impact the society

Social marketing impacts society in many ways. Its importance includes:

  • It raises awareness on issues that needs to be addressed
  • It captures the attention of the target audience
  • It presents a simple way to change an issue in the communities

What is Health communication?

These are communication strategies aimed at impacting, informing and enriching the community to practice certain public health behaviours and practices. 

The first process in health communication involves studying health attitudes and behaviours accustomed to the audience. This helps in the determination of type, format and frequency of messaging. Health communication includes community health centres, policy advocacy, health education, health literacy and outbreak communication. It includes interpersonal communication or community-based communications such as educational events or public meetings. It can also be done through social media, radio, television and billboards just to name a few. 

Examples of health communication areas include: 

  • HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
  • Diabetes prevention
  • Tobacco and smoking prevention

Importance of health communication include:

  • It helps health providers and stakeholders to pass on information that can have a positive impact on personal or communal health choices and behaviours. 
  • Inform against health misconceptions
  • Shoe the importance of positive behaviour and health changes

Similarities between Social marketing and Health communication

  • Both aim at creating social change by influencing people’s behaviours

Differences between Social marketing and Health communication

Definition

Social marketing refers to marketing designed to create social change through raising awareness for a cause or problem and also convince the audience of the importance of specific behavioural changes. On the other hand, health communication refers to communication strategies aimed at impacting, informing and enriching the community to practice certain public health behaviours and practices. 

Scope

While social marketing covers a broad range of issues, health communication only covers health-related issues. 

Examples

Examples of causes that apply social marketing include safe driving, anti-drugs, anti-smoking, healthy eating and exercise, anti-deforestation, anti-bullying and fighting gender stereotypes. On the other hand, examples of issues covered under health communication such as HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, diabetes prevention and tobacco and smoking prevention.

Social marketing vs. Health communication: Comparison Table

Summary of Social marketing vs. Health communication

Social marketing refers to marketing designed to create social change through raising awareness for a cause or problem and also convince the audience of the importance of specific behavioural changes and covers a broad range of issues. On the other hand, health communication refers to communication strategies aimed at impacting, informing and enriching the community to practice certain public health behaviours and practices. It only covers health-related issues. Both, however, aim at creating social change by influencing people’s behaviours. 


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References :


[0]Walter Wymer. Innovations in Social Marketing and Public Health Communication: Improving the Quality of Life for Individuals and Communities. Springer Publishers, 2015. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=8gC0CgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Difference+between+Social+marketing+and+Health+communication&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwir9Y7Ru83qAhWMyYUKHYSHCAoQ6AEwAXoECAMQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Social%20marketing%20and%20Health%20communication&f=false

[1]Harner R & Parvanta C. Essentials of Public Health Communication. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2010. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=cyCSPtVfNHQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Difference+between+Social+marketing+and+Health+communication&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwir9Y7Ru83qAhWMyYUKHYSHCAoQ6AEwBHoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Social%20marketing%20and%20Health%20communication&f=false

[2]Jeff French. Social Marketing and Public Health: Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press, 2017. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=fIULDgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Difference+between+Social+marketing+and+Health+communication&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwir9Y7Ru83qAhWMyYUKHYSHCAoQ6AEwBXoECAAQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Social%20marketing%20and%20Health%20communication&f=false

[3]Image credit: https://p1.piqsels.com/preview/412/508/842/heart-curve-live-thread-seidener-thread-health.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://p1.pxfuel.com/preview/218/425/97/stop-sign-road-sign-roadsign-traffic-sign.jpg

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