Indeed, Viral Marketing is Bullsh*t. Adoptive marketing is the future of Socially Responsible Marketing.

I have had to take a few days to digest Sam Lawrence’s Go Big Always post on viral marketing.  Don’t get me wrong, I was in full agreement with what he was saying from the moment I read it.  However, it did take me a little bit to really understand what it means for social responsibility in marketing–especially when it comes to non-profits and social change organizations.

Viral marketing, as Sam points out, is manipulative. In short, it seeks to trick people into viewing an advertisement. In my opinion, this manipulation is inherently socially irresponsible. It stems from organizations viewing new media in the same way that they view television and print media–as nothing more than vehicles for the delivery of advertisements. This view of media is still heavily influenced by the broadcast model of media that is largely uni-directional. In the case of viral marketing, marketers see new media as nothing more than a TV with a forward button that allows consumers to pass along their ads for them.

Adoptive marketing, Lawrence points out, is focused on the product. In the case of non-profits and social change organizations, that product is, in fact, social change. Lets face it, if you are so unable to get people to feel strongly about your message as a non-profit that viral marketing is your best bet, you need to rethink your organization’s message and mission. It saddens me the number of non-profits and social change organizations that are throwing the “viral” buzzword around. Just use the word “viral” in a search of jobs on the website and see the results.

Rather than viral marketing, organizations need to be spending their resources engaging their constituents with their mission. An example would be creating opportunities for people to be involved with issues on a personal level, such as asking them to create videos about the subject or take a hands on role in the movement. This type of “adoptive” approach is the intersection of socially responsible marketing and social media marketing. If organizations will be willing to forgo the seemingly quick and easy allure of viral marketing and embrace the more organic adoptive marketing approach, they will ultimately be more successful in building constituencies that are engaged and enthusiastic about their causes without having to trick them.

1 comment so far

  1. Sam Lawrence on

    You may gave said this better than I did. Good job, look forward to seeing more examples of Adoptive Marketing.


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