I have written and talked about the need to develop a global social marketing community and organization (The Global Marketing Challenge) that could be crafted around the following ideals:
To continually improve the knowledge base and skill level of people who use social marketing in their professional activities to improve the health and social conditions of people around the world.
With the purpose of creating a set of experiences for program managers; policy-makers; program planners, evaluators and staff; implementing agencies; and investor and donor organizations that provide them with knowledge and tools to utilize social marketing to improve the health of poor and vulnerable populations.
Since then, with initial support from USAID through PSP - One, I have been meeting with people, sketching out ideas and testing them, and establishing a working relationship with Rare and their RarePlanet network site to weave together a proposal I am putting out here for you to review and comment on. You can view the presentation for a global social marketing network that includes background and rationale, features and benefits of the site, and screen shots from the existing rareplanet site.
The question that people raise when they see all of this is 'How does the social network site fit into an overall picture of social marketing?'
Envisioning a social marketing ecology places the network into a larger framework of how this site could both anchor and support social marketing practitioners, a social marketing organization (or organizations), donors and investors in social marketing, experts/consultants, and academic institutions. This digital community (social network) should weave together the strands of social marketing that now exist. It should be the catalyst that brings them together, the glue that holds them together and the platform for innovation, improvement and expansion of the field. In the following diagram I identify 5 core elements of a social marketing ecology; these include
1. A Social Marketing Organization (a global one that may have regional and country specific affiliates).
2. Donors or Investors (Large organizations - public, private and NGO – that support and/or implement social marketing programs around the world. I prefer the latter term as I believe they should reasonably expect to see an ROI for investing in social marketing approaches to their causes and issues and we need to provide some of the tools to make this possible for them).
3. Universities (and affiliated faculty, particularly those that sponsor or conduct social marketing education and research programs).
4. Experts (individuals identified as offering value to social marketing organizations and program managers as consultants, trainers or in other roles).
5. Social Marketing Practitioners (the people who are in the field doing the work of designing, implementing, evaluating and seeking funding for social marketing programs aimed at environmental, health and social causes and issues). These are the people who should be the ultimate beneficiaries of our efforts to design a social marketing ecology in which to work for they are the ones who will create the social impact and achieve the promises social marketing holds out as an innovative and unique approach to social change.
The diagram includes a set of arrows indicating what I think are the most salient sets of exchanges between these actors we should focus on. I do not presume that no other relationships can exist (for example, directly between experts and donors or universities); my point is to offer some parsimony while also focusing our attention on how a digital social network can intermediate some of these relationships and thus create networks of value, not maintain the current state-of-affairs where direct connections predominate and power and influence go to the most connected.
Each set of arrows has a box connected with it in which some of the more salient benefits that can be exchanged between two actors, but certainly not all of them, are identified. For instance, while there may be many different benefits to relationships among Investors (Donors) and Universities, funding for the development of academic and research programs is certainly a primary interest of universities. In turn, many of these investors may expect to benefit from such investments by being able to take early advantage of advances in knowledge and practice these academic and research projects produce and apply them to their other programs and portfolios.
Similarly, I have located each set of actors proximate to what I see as their most important transactions – experts next to the social marketing organization and practitioners for example. Most important for this concept of the social marketing ecology is that all actors have primary roles to play within the digital community to service the ultimate (social) benefits of increasing the capacity, innovativeness, effectiveness and efficiency of network members (social marketing practitioners) to achieve social impact. My point here is not to be exhaustive of the relationships and possible benefits among the actors, but to provide some clear targets for thinking through our marketing of the entire ecology to prospective constituents. I do know we need to get these right, especially for practitioners and investors.
My next steps are to approach potential investors to support further development of this social marketing network (all leads will be appreciated!). An equally important, and ambitious, step is to attract programs and people to get involved in the community - to stake their claim to becoming part of a social marketing community. When you review the slideshow, I believe the benefits for doing so will become clear. And then, let me know what you think of these ideas and how you would like to become involved.
You can leave comments here, at the slideshow, or at the social marketing wiki.