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MT12: Social Marketing

Framework Component

Changes - Multi-Sector

Indicator Description

This indicator is intended to identify the presence, characteristics, reach, and impact of social marketing campaigns conducted statewide or in local project areas. The focus is on comprehensive, multi-level social marketing campaigns; the number of discrete campaigns that were conducted during the year; the topics and changes they sought; their scale-the reach to different population segments, the geographic areas targeted, and the delivery channels used; and, wherever possible, evaluation results.

Social marketing campaigns are defined as being multi-level, coordinated initiatives that combine education, marketing, and public health approaches, including PSEs. Campaigns may be designed for statewide implementation or for locally defined priorities. They use specific, action-oriented messaging with a unified look and feel, memorable taglines or calls to action, and distinctive logos. They are delivered in multiple channels and include objectives for population and community goals, not solely individual behavior change. Stage-specific formative, process, and outcome evaluation is used continually to assess operations and consumer impact and fine-tune delivery in order to maximize results.

The mix of marketing components, the visual elements used, and specific geographic areas may be reported.

Background and Context

This indicator showcases the scope and scale of SNAP-Ed interventions that use a larger-scale, comprehensive, multi-level, multi-component social marketing framework where activities are synchronized to reach large proportions of the SNAP-Ed population and obtain maximum impact. It may include specialized, targeted campaigns or initiatives that engage multiple delivery channels, organizations, and sites using methods and materials that are well-integrated to drive behavioral and organizational change. Effective social marketing often involves joining efforts with others under the common banner of a branded campaign at a national, multi-state, statewide, regional/media market, or local level. Partners often co-fund some of the social marketing components with out-of-pocket or in-kind support by offering engaging activities, reinforcing visual identifiers, and coordinating consistent messaging.

This indicator also builds on selected data elements in EARS. These include the population segments, number of people, amount of communication, delivery channels, organizations, and locations where social marketing is delivered. By using consistent measures, the nature and amount of SNAP-Ed social marketing activity can be summarized for the country.

To implement a social marketing campaign, SNAP-Ed implementing agencies should:

  • Determine which SNAP-Ed objectives lend themselves to longer-term, multi-sector communications efforts. These may target personal behavior or aim to influence expectations and larger-scale action for healthy change to help achieve individual, organizational, and multi-sector changes that support results in the population segments chosen for the campaign.
  • Conduct formative research to identify the needs and values of consumers and intermediaries and to identify the locations, times, and messengers that consumers believe and that provide cues to action at as many decision points as possible.
  • Custom-design interventions and materials that are user-friendly for intermediaries in key channels and that resonate with the consumer segments that the campaign is intended to impact.
  • If possible, leverage SNAP-Ed resources and support partners with similar goals by enlisting participation of as many influential intermediaries as possible to deliver sequential, multi-level education, marketing, and PSE support activities.
  • Conduct a regular cycle of formative, process, and outcome evaluation in line with budget availability.

Decisions about which delivery channels, organizations, and sites to engage may be made by using a combination of authoritative public and commercial national, state, and local registries such as USDA-qualified food stores; maps, geographic information systems, and atlases; state school statistics; licensing records (early care and education, restaurants); and commercial databases that show types of business with strategic knowledge about the needs, values, and demand characteristics of each. SNAP-Ed agencies or partners may need to conduct channel-specific surveys or needs assessments. Metrics will be temporal; that is, they will change with phases of a campaign, promotional waves, audience feedback/monitoring, and periodic refinements in the call to action.

Examples of and materials from social marketing campaigns conducted by states around the country are found in SNAP-Ed Library.

Outcome Measures

What to Measure

Based on the campaign and available resources, use a variety of sources with process metrics to compile a comprehensive picture of results. Outcomes for audience segments, such as changes in sales, or in specific PSEs in each channel, usually result from the combined effects and synergy created through multiple, complementary approaches. Design outcome and process metrics into the campaign.

What behavioral changes are being sought? (See R1-11)

  • Fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Healthy beverage consumption
  • Physical activity
  • Food security
  • Other, specify

What environmental or multi-sector changes are being sought? (See MT5-MT6 and MT7-MT11)

What market segment or population group is targeted?

  • Preschoolers, children aged 2-5 years, and their parents/caretakers
  • Children in elementary school (often grades K-6)
  • Middle School students (often grades 7-8)
  • High school students (often grades 9-12)
  • Women (may include moms, women generally, female caretakers, others)
  • Men (may include fathers, men generally, male caretakers, others)
  • Elders
  • Multi-generation/residents/shoppers/congregants
  • Workers/employees
  • Ethnic/language groups, specify

In what qualifying settings or channels are social marketing messages and interventions being delivered? (See also LT6 and LT7)

  • Mass media (paid or earned media)-TV, radio, outdoor, transit
  • Social media-Twitter, Facebook
  • Supermarkets
  • Other retail food stores
  • Farmers markets
  • Restaurants
  • Worksites
  • Faith organizations
  • Park and recreation facilities
  • Health care facilities
  • Government property and programs
  • Other community sites, specify
  • Early care and education, Head Start
  • Schools
  • Community youth organizations, afterschool programs
  • Other, specify

What are the geographic areas being targeted for each campaign in the state?

  • Towns/cities
  • Counties
  • In-state media markets/metropolitan statistical areas/multi-county regions
  • Multi-state media markets
  • Entire state (multiple media markets)

What is the mix of mass communications methods and elements (materials) that each campaign uses?

  • Paid and public service advertising via TV, radio, transit, outdoor, other (specify)
  • Public relations, or "earned media"-media coverage secured through news events and outreach
  • Periodic promotion-new themes, events, seasonal messaging, commemoratives, varied market segments
  • Consumer education
  • Interactive websites for consumers, intermediaries, media
  • Social media "push" to consumer segments, intermediaries
  • Small media-posters, bulletins, brochures, newsletters, cookbooks, children's books, games, and quizzes
  • NERI-Nutrition Education Reinforcement Items (<$4 each) such as small shopping, food preparation, and cooking items and small physical activity equipment with campaign messaging


The market segment(s) chosen for the social marketing campaign

Surveys and Data Collection Tools

Examples of evaluation materials from social marketing campaigns conducted by states around the country are found in the SNAP-Ed Library. These include smaller scale and lower cost methods such as intercept and phone surveys; pre-post tallies; online surveys; 800-number responses; web requests; social media likes, comments, and re-tweets; and mailer-backs.

Additional Resources or Supporting Citations

Example of How a Local Social Marketing Campaign Using Low-Cost Media Could Report Its Metrics

Highlights: In (region/county), we were able to partner with 170 high schools, afterschool programs, small stores, and parks to conduct a teen-led campaign for healthy eating and physical activity. Of the 330 SNAP-Ed eligible entities we identified, 170-over 50 percent!-signed on to adopt campaign interventions. Our projected reach at the high schools was all (X0,000) of the enrolled students, of whom (X0,000) were estimated to be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Of the students reached outside the school setting, our projected reach was (X0,000) in participating community youth organizations, (X,000) through small stores that signed on, and (X,000) in participating parks.

Methods: We used evidence-based resources (names of campaigns and programs), including those from SNAP-Ed Strategies and Interventions: An Obesity Prevention Toolkit for States, to conduct a peer-led campaign in the (name of media market). It aimed to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, healthy beverages, and physical activity at school and in organizations, businesses, and public spaces near their schools. The campaign is called (branded name). Among the 50 SNAP-Ed qualified high schools in (media market), 20 signed on to participate and give students service learning credit for participating. During the fall, we recruited and trained teacher mentors/adult allies and student leaders in each school. They used specific assessment tools (titles of the tools) to examine the food and physical activity environments of the school and of neighborhood locations within a one-mile radius. They used the results to set priorities and make a schedule and invited fellow students to help. Starting in January, teams invited a total of 280 popular organizations to participate: 80 afterschool organizations, 140 small stores, and 60 parks. We (Implementing Agency) purchased 100 student-designed billboards and 30 bus shelters adjacent to the schools for the January-April period. During this period, the student teams also made a plan to continue implementation in the following school year.

Adoption: Of the 280 organizations that students approached, 150 agreed to participate-more than half! These were 45 afterschool, 60 small stores, and 45 parks.

Projected Reach: Since 20 high schools signed on to make changes internally, we project that (total enrollment and number of students qualifying for FRPM) will have been exposed to positive influences at school. Among students frequenting the community organizations, we project that if each student uses only one of the three types of organizations, then as many as (#) were exposed to the campaign. These would have been (#) estimated to use the 80 afterschool programs, (#) estimated to buy snacks at the 60 small stores, and the (#) who use the 45 parks. The media impressions provided by the commercial vendor totaled (#) for billboards and (#) for bus shelters.

Next Steps: In our second year, we will continue working in the (media market) with the 20 initial high schools to identify their degree of implementation in terms of continued participation by students, teachers, and community partners and the PSE changes that the four participating channels implemented, as well as develop a plan for maintenance of effort in future years. In addition, we will look for adoption by additional systems and sites in each channel. In our third year, we will assess the degree to which changes were maintained. In each of years 2 and 3, we will use evaluation results to upgrade, then roll out, the (name of campaign) to an additional media market.

Education provided in social marketing campaigns is reported as indirect education. The goal of social marketing is to surround individuals and reach them as many times and in as many ways and places as possible to stimulate behavior change. Therefore, it is not appropriate to obtain unduplicated counts by age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, or SNAP participation as is required for direct education.