Social marketing and sewage

Untreatable sewage going to landfill

What has this horrible stuff got to do with social marketing?

This is what’s left after sewage has been treated at my local sewage plant. You’re lucky you can’t smell it. It has been squeezed dry to make it cheaper to transport.

It’s going to landfill.

It’s going to landfill because of the things in the sewage that can’t be broken down and shouldn’t have been in the sewers at all. How to persuade people not to flush wipes, nappies, cotton buds etc. down the loo?

That’s where social marketing comes in. By the way, I’m not talking about social media. Social marketing has been around for fifty years. It’s about using the marketing techniques of the commercial world to produce socially beneficial outcomes.

If you’re not familiar with the term, I’ve come up with my own definition, with apologies to the experts: social marketing involves persuading people to do things that are good for them and for others, using scientific and social research to understand why they don’t.

I was interested in the messaging, the words used to persuade us to do what’s good for ourselves and for society, but as I discovered at the recent World Social Marketing Conference, the words are only part of the story and tend to be decided on after a lot of research.

I’m going to write about some of the social marketing campaigns I heard about at the conference, starting with a campaign to persuade people in Malawi to produce and eat more eggs.

But before that, I’m going to say a bit more about sewage in my next post.