Social Marketing and Web 2.0

As I am a tech geek I am really interested in the use of mobile technology, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and locative media in everyday lives. My bachelor thesis was about the use of locative media and AR in tourism, and what implications it had. I had not heard about social marketing until about a year ago when I started to look into doing my masters abroad. After reading about the course I got more interested and, as the tech geek I am, I began looking into the technological side of this field. Surprisingly I had some difficulties finding literature that revolved around the use of technology, such as mobile technology, in social marketing and the future of social marketing.

With the emergence of web 2.0 the target audience also became the producers of the content distributed online and the new media introduced shifted the way we communicate with the audience (Lefebvre, 2007). The dynamic nature of these new medias made social marketers label themselves as late adopters of the new tools presented (Lefebvre, 2007, Dooley et al., 2012). The first question that pops into mind is “why?”. Why are social marketers not utilising these new tools when traditional marketers are doing it?

You do not have to be a health organisation to create apps that increases the activity level amongst the users. There are many apps on the market that aims to increase the daily activity level amongst its users and not necessarily because their focus is the behavioural change, but to implement the gamification element to the workout and make it more fun. The Company Six to Start, an independent games developer and entertainment company based in London, made a fitness game named “Zombies, run!”, and has a high rating in Google Play (4,3 stars) and App Store (4,5 stars). The game sets the player in a zombie apocalypse story as a “runner” who have to gather supplies. While you’re running you get commentary from the game and music, and once in a while you’ll get zombies that chases you so you have to speed up.



Razer a company who supply products for gaming, an activity often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, released its own wearable device in 2014 named Nabu, a fitness tracker measuring your steps, your exercise and your sleep. They also used a zombie apocalypse as their backdrop and one of their five rules for surviving an apocalypse was to keep fit, get enough sleep and be social (Razer, 2016). Zombies seems to be quite a popular gimmick for selling fitness, but that might be because of their popularity the last few years.


Say hello to Razer Nabu

A good example of how social marketers are utilising the new tools is the Norwegian Directory of Health’s project “Slutta” which consists of a webpage, app, Facebook page and Instagram page. The aim is to help people quit smoking and snusing. To clarify, in Scandinavia we have a tobacco-product called snus which is a little pouch of tobacco you stick between your lips and gums. I know. Superhot right? Anyways. This app was as of May 2015 downloaded over 330.000 times, and many users are reporting that it helped them quit. The app tells you how much money you have saved, and the health benefits you’ve gained. The app doesn’t aim to be pointing any fingers, but rather to encourage and support the user as he or she quits. The results can be posted on social media such as Facebook and Instagram so that your friends and followers can see your progress.

Photos from Google Play:


Web 2.0 also enables you to reach a larger audience, and one of the ways it does this is via spreadability and virality of your content. Dumb Ways to Die was a campaign launched in 2012 by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia. This campaign featured an animated of cartoon figures dancing along to song about multiple dumb ways to die like putting your fork in your toaster, take your helm off in outer space and pushing a mysterious red button. The video ends with three of the characters getting killed by performing unsafe behaviour at the train-station. As of December 2015 it has been viewed 117 million times being labled as “the gangnam style of train safety” (Sunshine Coast Daily, 2012), and the campaign itself led to a 30% reduction in “near-miss” accidents between November 2012 –  January 2013.

The Norwegian campaign “Hold Fokus” (Stay focused) from Trygg Trafikk launched in 2015 and consisted of a website with video content and linking it with Facebook and mobile phones to interact with the audience on a more personal level. The aim of the campaign was to reduce traffic accidents happening due to distractions of the driver as well as change the attitudes of Norwegian motorists (Trygg Trafikk, 2015). By going to their webpage the users first connect the site to their Facebook profile and fill in their mobile phone number. Once this is done a video starts playing showing a woman looking at your Facebook profile before she heads out of the door, get in the car and starts driving. As she drives she keeps looking at your profile on her phone. She starts texting and as you receive the message saying “I’m on my way” on your phone and start to read it you hear a loud crash. You have just witnessed what can happen if you’re distracted while driving as if it happened to your friend. A survey about the campaign had 1 in 3 Norwegians say that the campaign had changed their attitude towards the use of mobile phones while driving.


Screenshot of the landingpage

The gamification element and spreadability helps you reach the audience and make them engage with the content thus have a greater chance on making an impact on them. Dumb Ways to Die has proven that social marketing campaigns can be fun and engaging, without trying to point fingers or scare them into a behaviour change. Interacting with them on a personal level via their online profiles and mobile might give the campaign more impact as you get an emotional connection to the message. Instead of sitting back and looking at the new medias and technology as daunting, social marketers should look at how they have been domesticated into the everyday life of the users an and how they can take advantage of it. There are loads of examples on how the web 2.0 tools are being used to create social change, and you might not even be aware of it.

20150915_161013-1Ingrid Berg is a Norwegian person. She loves superheroes therefore she decided to study social marketing to help save the world. As an avid tech geek she loves to look at how technology is used and how it can be used in the everyday life.

Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn with her.


Dooley, J.A., Jones, S. C. & Iverson, D. 2012.Web 2.0: an assessment of social marketing principles. Journal of Social Marketing, 2, 207-221.

Lefebvre, R. C. 2007.The New Technology:The Consumer as Participant Rather Than Target Audience. Social Marketing Quarterly, 13, 31-42.

Razer, (2016). Razer Nabu – Social Wearable Smartband with Display and Sensor. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Feb. 2016].

Sunshine Coast Daily, (2012). Dumb ways to die video the Gangnam Style of train safety. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Feb. 2016].

Trygg Trafikk, (2015). Hold Fokus-kampanjen ble en braksuksess – Trygg Trafikk. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Feb. 2016].


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