Some reactions

The social marketing vs. social marketing story has received coverage from across the blogosphere, with most bloggers who have commented firmly on our side. Here are a few excerpts:

From Alison Byrne Fields of We’ll Know When We Get There:

I’m a solid column one person: social marketing is using commercial marketing strategies to promote positive behavior or attitudinal change.

To be honest, I can’t believe this is even a topic of debate — it makes the social media folks who are pushing the issue look a little idiotic. You’re capable enough to respond effectively to a revolution in what it means to be a customer and you can’t come up with your own name? It’s like picking a URL for your new site, kids. This one’s already registered.

Francois Gossieaux of Emergence Marketing does not like the new usage of the term social marketing, and he’s concerned that these new “social marketers” are going to focus on the hype without including the critical ethical considerations and understanding of the fundamentals:

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.

And Tara Hunt of HorsePigCow gets it and has an interesting idea for our social marketing community to consider.

On first glance, you may say, what’s the big deal? Well…

It’s almost an issue of trademarking (which she may consider doing…maybe a community mark?). If someone came along tomorrow and said that Pinko Marketing was the practice of painting everything pink or creating viral campaigns, I would take issue, too. Especially if it was someone with a far reach like Jupiter Research.

I looked into this idea of Community Marks, which is a concept Chris Messina came up with to protect the integrity of a non-commercial brand that is created collaboratively by a loose volunteer community, such as Bar Camp or Spread Firefox. It’s not quite a trademark, but more formal than doing nothing. The community itself is responsible for enforcement of the mark. An interesting idea for the social marketing community to consider — we are not as a whole technically savvy enough to enforce this as a community but ideally members of our community will speak out when they see the term being misused.

UPDATE (9/8/06): Carol at Driving in Traffic adds her two cents to the discussion:

Some have argued that the traditional notion of Social Marketing has lost its umph because the emergence of social media has muddied the semantic waters. To a certain extent, I agree. Others trivialize Social Marketing because, to date, its successes have come in under the radar when compared with the long touted product campaigns of Nike and Apple. With the emergence of the CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing and the organized push they are about to embark upon to meet the goals of HealthyPeople 2010, things are about to change for the better.

However, if my thoughts are right– which they may not be and everyone is welcome to help me refine them through civil discussion— all marketers are going to be utilizing the new technologies and social media platforms. Perhaps it is then wise if we all work diligently to be more clear about what we say we do.

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