How tech, gadgets and digital platforms are helping social change and healthcare forge ahead in the 21st century.
Just how hard is it to change the world? Or how about just part of it? How do you make genuine, long-lasting changes to the behaviour of millions of people for their own good?
This is the unfathomable challenge of healthcare marketing that faces anybody (or any public body) trying to encourage social change. Selling people a product is hard enough, but getting them to break routines, change the very way they think or perceive things and, indeed, perhaps save a life is a daunting task.
Traditionally, many experts have thought it to be something that’s very difficult for individuals to do. Dr Ben Goldacre, a famed consultant and author covering many public health and science topics, has commented that it’s ‘probably a big institutional change that individuals struggle to enact, but it comes down to regulatory changes and infrastructure’.
But the landscape is changing and digital technology has given marketers and politicians new ways to engage with the public in genuinely insightful, moving and powerful ways. This is something I’ve been looking into during our recent success in getting onto NHS Commercial Solutions’ framework for the provision of social marketing services for the NHS.
Here are four of my favourite ways that healthcare marketers have used modern solutions to change the way people live their lives for the better.
Change the way they see
Change4Life's 'Sugar Smart' campaign was pretty simple, but pretty innovative about it. It’s an app that lets kids or parents select food and be presented with a visual showing just how many sugar cubes’ worth of sweetness are hidden inside it. The NHS gives the over consumption of sugar three times the funding of anti-smoking, so it’s clearly a big priority. Changing the way kids perceive the hidden sugar in healthy-seeming food might just be enough to alter lives.
Change the way they think
Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ was one of 2015’s most successful campaigns and was seen as a tipping point where government advertising became more brave, bold and innovative than any brand advertising in that year. The truth is, governments have to become much, much more exciting when they try to reach people because we’re all at saturation point with messaging. Cut through, or cut the campaign out. As for the tech angle? It pioneered an everywhere-at-once message, with YouTube and mobile video particularly effective.
Change the way they interact
Samsung’s Backup Memory for Alzheimer’s patients was an incredibly forward-thinking tech/healthcare mashup. For people with Alzheimer's and their family members, recognition is no simple act. Samsung’s Backup Memory app identifies a person who is nearby and also running the app, and it shows the person with the disease a name, photo, and other content to help him or her recognize a visitor. Nothing will take away the pain of a loved one forgetting important details and faces, but anything that offers a comforting reminder for them is a very welcome step forwards.
Change the way they fight
Stoptober campaign uses Facebook Messenger bot to help smokers quit. The Facebook strategy saw Stoptober pay to push its message of quitting, as well as using Facebook Messenger bots to communicate with participants during a very difficult fight against their addictions and body. The bots were used as a support tool to aid smokers with cravings or problems during the programme. Not only could they offer advice when people had questions or felt they were on the edge of temptation, but the Messenger bot would also periodically actively contact the user to ask them how they were coping. That intervention is a huge step forwards – it’s instant, it’s natural and it might just be the difference between a relapse and another day smoke-free.
ARTICLE BY EMMA FISHER
A passionate marketing prof, trend and innovation watcher, Associate Director @TheHPSGroup, oh and my best job, a Mum. Love life, fam, fitness and sausages (the dog variety)