Strategies for Social Marketing Campaigns

Social marketing aims to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to, in turn, influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. In public health, many social marketing campaigns include a specific behavior change component. For instance, a HIV testing social marketing campaign uses messages to convince people to get an HIV test.

The "social" in social marketing is not related to its use of social media, but instead refers to the fact that the primary aim of social marketing is to achieve "social good" and in many cases bring about social change. This is in contrast to traditional or commercial marketing where the aim is primarily financial gain.

Social marketing campaigns use multiple media channels to reach and saturate a target audience bringing about behavior change. A social marketing campaign may use social media tools in combination with other approaches, such as traditional media (billboards, radio, TV, etc.), events, and promotional materials, to reach a target audience and bring about the desired behavior change. A plan for implementing a social marketing campaign, will guide development, implementation, and evaluation.

Youth HIV Facts

Youth have a low perception of risk that they will get HIV and may not feel the need to protect themselves.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Social Marketing Planning

Social marketing planning requires understanding and applying the 4 P's of marketing into program planning. Social marketing is critical because it looks at the 4 P's and provision of health services from the consumer's viewpoint. The 4 P's of marketing from CDCynergy Social Marketing Edition are:

  1. Product represents the desired behavior you are asking your audience to do, and the associated benefits, tangible objects, and/or services that support behavior change.
  2. Price is the cost (financial, emotional, psychological, or time-related) of overcoming barriers the audience faces in making the desired behavior change.
  3. Place is where the audience will perform the desired behavior, where they will access the program products and services, or where they are thinking about your issue.
  4. Promotion stands for communication messages, materials, channels, and activities that will effectively reach your audience.

Sometimes there is a fifth "P" – Policy. Policy encompasses the laws and regulations that influence the desired behavior, such as requiring sidewalks to make communities more walkable or prohibiting smoking in shared public spaces.

Guide Resource

This CDC guide is based on social marketing best practices outlines how to develop, implement and evaluate an effective social marketing plan.

Social Marketing Campaign Examples

The HIV awareness and testing social marketing campaigns below illustrate common features of social marketing campaigns. In general, social marketing campaigns include a website to house all campaign messaging and materials, social media activity, videos, and more. Many of these campaigns offer free materials to download and some can be customized.

Get Yourself Tested

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) - It's Your Sex Life is a social marketing campaign that informs young people about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), encourages and normalizes testing for STDs, and connects young people to testing centers. The campaign is sponsored by MTV, Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other partners and is targeted toward youth and teens. GYT campaign materials include videos, special programming on MTV, and banner ads.

Act Against AIDS

Act Against AIDS is a national effort sponsored by CDC to combat complacency about HIV and AIDS among the general public in the U.S. The campaigns of Act Against AIDS focus on raising awareness of HIV and AIDS among all Americans and reducing the risk of infection among those at highest risk. Act Against AIDS campaign materials include banner ads, brochures, palm card, posters, and videos. The following five campaign examples below are all part of Act Against AIDS.

Doing It 

Doing It is a national HIV testing and prevention campaign sponsored by CDC that encourages adults to get tested for HIV and know their status. The target audience for the message is everyone, emphasizing that HIV testing should be a part of everyone’s regular health routine to keep them and their communities healthy. Materials for this campaign include videos, posters, palm cards, and banner ads.

Doing IT banner. Two men taking a smiling selfie with a cell phone, surrounded by balloons. We’re Doing It. Testing for HIV. Testing is Fast, Free & Confidential. #DoingIt Act Against AIDS

Let's Stop HIV Together 

Let’s Stop HIV Together is a CDC campaign that raises awareness about HIV and fights stigma by sharing stories of people living with HIV who are mothers, fathers, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, partners, wives, husbands, and co-workers. The target audience for this campaign is the general public, and materials include posters, brochure, palm card and banner ads.

Let's Stop HIV Together Square Web Banner of Jamar and His Mother.

Start Talking. Stop HIV.

Start Talking. Stop HIV. aims to reduce HIV infections among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). This CDC campaign encourages open discussion between sex partners about HIV prevention strategies like HIV testing, status disclosure, condom use, and the use of medicines to prevent and treat HIV. Videos, banner ads, posters, brochures, fact sheets, palm cards, and infographics are available campaign resources.

Start Talking. Stop HIV. Join the conversation. Click here to join the conversation about HIV prevention. Act Against AIDS. Instagram/Act Against AIDS, Facebook/StartTalkingHIV, Twitter @TalkHIV

Take Charge. Take the Test.

The Take Charge. Take the Test. campaign encourages African-American women to take charge of their health by recognizing their risk for HIV infection and getting tested. CDC sponsors the campaign. It is no longer active but campaign materials including posters and palm cards are still available.

Testing Makes Us Stronger

Testing Makes Us Stronger is a campaign sponsored by CDC that encourages African-American gay and bisexual men, with an emphasis on 18- to 24-year olds, to get tested for HIV and know their HIV status. The campaign is no longer active but posters are still available. 

Page last updated: February 2018