Do you see the purple booth in the far background? That marks the beginning of this line, for a free (seemingly empty) purple stocking by a chocolate company. I was also impressed at a similar booth where you could get “free” chocolate for liking a brand on Facebook or following them on Instagram. I heard the workers talking and they said they’d hit half a million likes with their promotion.
I’ve been thinking a bit about social marketing lately because I’ve being managing communications and media for research organisations and not for profits for many years now. In general, the social sciences don’t do marketing well and this is especially the case in my field of sociology.
A study of teaching sociology in Australia led by Helen Marshall found that our “sociology” brand is weak including through the names of our courses and how we promote them. I wish we did this better. Economics and psychology excelled at marketing early in their history (not without internal controversies) particularly by elevating their likeness to physical and natural sciences. When the public does not understand what we do this is a public relations problem. It especially matters to non-academic practitioners. That’s why I set up Sociology at Work, to support practitioners, and the Social Science Insights blog, to promote the value of social science in policy, business and communities.
Let’s change public perception to get them lining up around the block for our knowledge!