Croakey’s previous post suggesting that social media is changing the world of health was more than just a touch over-optimistic, says health policy consultant Margo Saunders.
“You were talking about, ummm, social media? And health? Compared to what we’re up against, we ain’t even close.
This news story, ‘PepsiCo moves away from “big brand” marketing’ tells the instructional tale of how one company’s recognition that they need to ‘become a catalyst in the culture rather than act like a big brand announcing something’ led to their innovative and sophisticated use of social media.
This should not exactly come as a revelation: in 2004, in a speech entitled, ‘Social Marketing – Helping Australians to Help Themselves’, presented to the Fifth National Public Affairs Convention, Jane Halton, Secretary of the Department of Health & Ageing, acknowledged that, ‘We need to be innovative … to counter the health negative forces. Like them, we also need to address the link between lifestyle and popular culture’.
We are just completely out-classed and out-resourced when it comes to doing it, even when it just comes to TV advertising, much less social media.
One basic thing that ‘they’ understand is what it is they are selling. I recall a pivotal brainstorming session some years ago when staff from a particular health charity met with a marketing advisor who forced them to keep drilling down until they got to what their real product was – and it wasn’t anything to do with their particular aspect of health.
They realised that it was — surprise surprise – happy families: the same marketing focus of KFC, McDonald’s and the rest. What those companies do very well, in 30 seconds or less, is establish a connection with an audience using mood and emotion.
Other forms of media then extend the connection to different audiences in different way, but all engendering a sense of connection and identity which translates as a ‘feel-good’ relationship with the product.
Social marketing for health, in comparison, often comes across as one-dimensional, amateurish and dated.
While questions remain about whether Australia’s yet-to-be-established National Preventive Health Agency will be any more than a glorified social marketing agency, the UK has already established the National Social Marketing Centre.
The Centre’s main area of work has been health, but it works ‘with anyone who is either commissioning, or developing, behavioural interventions for a social good.’ There is some good information on its website, although I have not yet been able to find anything profound to suggest that, ‘the social media juggernaut is changing the world of health.’