Increasingly, marketing professionals want to encourage you to try their products in ways other than traditional advertising. For example, a company might pay to ensure that the beloved characters on a given television show drink a certain soft drink or drive a certain kind of car. The industry name for this technique is “product placement” (or “product integration”), and it is intended to position a product in your mind without explicitly employing a sales pitch.
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Companies engaged in product placement marketing are required to disclose the arrangement. That’s why you often see a “promotional consideration provided by” message in the credits of your favorite shows and movies. Those credits are basically a note to consumers: “Just to be clear, we paid for the opportunity to try to sell you our product by having it appear on screen.”
Cue Social Media
Meanwhile, the explosion of social media over the last decade has given marketers another set of powerful tools for communicating with consumers. For the most part, those tools are used ethically. Think, for example, of the posts you see on Facebook that include the word “sponsored” at the top. That’s the signal that someone is trying to sell you something. And that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. After all, you may want or need the thing being sold. It’s just important that you know when you are seeing a sales message so you can make an informed decision. That’s called transparency, and it is a cornerstone of ethical marketing practice.
Unfortunately, however, some unethical people working in the addiction treatment and recovery center industry have found ways around this sort of transparency. Instead of making it crystal clear when they are pitching their services to you, they muddy things up—and they do that by hiring people in recovery or the family members of people in recovery to post messages that might seem innocent enough, but are, in fact, subtly promoting a specific provider.
Online Influencers and Superstars
Social media “influencers” is the term used for folks with lots of followers who seem to have expertise in a certain area or areas; they are extremely useful to marketers, but their relationship to a company should be fully disclosed, particularly when someone’s health and safety are in question. If there isn’t full disclosure of a marketing arrangement, those taking the recommendations may not have a complete picture of what is best for them or their loved one who needs treatment for a substance abuse disorder.
These influencers may be individuals who have gone through recovery themselves. Personal stories can be very inspiring—and that’s just what the marketing team is counting on. Once you are emotionally invested in a person’s recovery story, it may seem only natural to follow that person’s advice for your own recovery journey. And while many of these people are undoubtedly well meaning, the undisclosed financial relationship with a treatment center means that their “advice” is biased at the very least and may well be crafted entirely by a sales team.
Beware the Bloggers
Parents of people in recovery often have stories to tell that truly tug at your heartstrings. Here, too, unscrupulous marketers and recovery programs may see an opportunity. Mom (or dad) bloggers often post supportive messages and share their personal stories. But like other social media influencers, they may secretly receive compensation for making referrals. A parent desperate to help a child may naturally turn to another parent who seemingly wants to help (indeed, may truly want to help) without realizing that the person they are trusting for advice is employed by a treatment center or marketing company.
Simple Rules for Finding the Right Path to Recovery
So how can you protect yourself or your loved one from covert marketing—especially when addiction and emotion can make it difficult to think clearly about your options? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Shop local: While sometimes getting away from home can help with recovery, generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to travel great distances to receive quality treatment. Start by looking for reputable treatment centers near your home. Those centers will be able to help you find the right solution if you or your loved one needs specialized services that are not available in your immediate area.
- Don’t talk to strangers: It’s one thing to take a recommendation about a movie, a restaurant, or a novel from someone you know only online. It’s quite another to take medical advice from someone you don’t know.
- Avoid becoming star struck: An inspiring story told by a celebrity may seem trustworthy, but high-profile individuals are just the sort of people marketers seek out.
- Do your homework: No matter what treatment center you reach out to, be prepared to ask a lot of questions about methodology, philosophy, aftercare, and more. Get the information straight from the provider—not from a paid spokesperson.
Again, the vast majority of marketing professionals practice their craft ethically. But when it comes to finding the best option for treatment of a substance abuse disorder, it is essential that you not be fooled by less scrupulous individuals seeking to exploit your desperation and lack of expertise. Be appropriately skeptical of those offering help and recommendations online.
On the Up and Up: We’re Here to Help
Bel Aire Recovery Center in Bel Aire, Kansas, offers a full continuum of care for drug and alcohol addiction treatment. We do not hire influencers or bloggers to secretly promote our services online. Our work—and the health of you and your loved ones—is far too important for trickery and unethical marketing techniques. We would love to help you determine whether we are your best option for your needs and, if we are not, we will happily provide reliable recommendations concerning other options. Successful recovery must be built on a foundation of trust, and we guarantee you can put your trust in Bel Aire Recovery Center.