Do The Campaigns Even Matter?

With the recent chaos over the 2012 presidential election, I had an interesting thought about persuasion and politics. Most people are proclaimed democrats or republicans and will obey this existing attitude to any length, even make a bad choice, because of their ego. People have a tendency to worry about consistency, and will make decisions to appear consistent with other choices they’ve made in their lives.

Don’t want to get too political, but I have some republican friends that have admitted they do not like or agree with Mitt Romney, but voted for him because he is their republican candidate and they must support their political party.

So if persuasion theories say that our opinions are based

on how we’re involved with the issues, doesn’t that mean we’re doomed to repeat the same cycle every presidential campaign? The republican candidate appeals to

the rich, individualistic and advantaged and the democratic candidate appeals to the idealistic, righteous working class. And as stubborn and proud people, we will continue to make decisions that appear consistent with the rest of our life choices. Republicans will vote for republicans and democrats will vote for democrats. As for the undecided, they only account for about %17 of voters which is helpful but nowhere near powerful.

Which means our presidential choice will consistently be based on the number of voting republicans and democrats in the election, not the issues or campaigns. It was never about telling voters WHO to vote for, but telling WHICH voters to come out and vote.

The question isn’t how do we change our patterns it’s do we want to?

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Sarah McLachlan and Fearful Persuasion

Persuasion used in advertising is no secret. At least not to those who pay attention. Persuasion theories explains how fear is a big tool used to grab the attention of viewers when the matter can directly affect them or someone they love. However, if the information is too threatening or intense, the viewer is likely to block it out in denial.

This makes me think of all the anti-smoking commercials that show extreme cases of usage, such as the boy high on marijuana who accidentally shoots himself. From a parent’s perspective, watching a commercial that shows that your kid will die if they find drugs is too extreme a fact to face. It goes past persuasion and straight to denial.

Like how many times have you been watching tv and heard the horrible Sarah Mclachlan song they play with the animal cruelty commercials, only to rush to the controller to change the channel. Shock appeal does NOT always work.

Companies new to the storytelling business of advertising need to be aware that while fear is a great tool to grab the attention of the viewer, it needs to be used cautiously.  Asking for a call to advocacy can include some fearful warnings if the goal isn’t reached, but showing an over exaggerated horrific scene will generally turn your viewers the other way to change the channel.

Gangnam Style in the Attention Economy

Many media theorists argue that we exist in an abundant world of information which creates a competition for our attention, according to Entertainment and Society by Sayre and King. It is estimated that a new website is created and  72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. With the overwhelming amount of content put on the web every second of every day, it’s no wonder the trends that become popular online are so over-the-top.

Take the recent Korean spoof turned American hit ‘Gangnam Style’. There’s obviously no real talent behind anything found in this video, and yet it’s become one of the most viewed videos on YouTube ever. Entertainment has become the most important value in American culture, and as long as you can keep our attention you can do anything. Even land a record deal with Justin Bieber through a song performed entirely in Korean.

It’s become much harder to compete with the constant creation of new content across the Internet. Social media has made it possible for anyone to become a writer, director or artist. And this freedom to create has made it much harder to stand out in a drowning pool of van Gogh’s.

Gangnam Style is obscene, memorable and eye-catching. In a nut shell, exactly what you need to be in the world of web 2.0.

The Next Big Thing…Again

The book Entertainment and Society by Sayre and King mentions an example that soon you won’t need to upload photos to Facebook as they’ll automatically send to your email contacts. According to Charlene Li at Forrester Research, future social networks “will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be,”.

It’s funny that this book mentions the example, because that’s one of the biggest selling points for the newest Samsung Galaxy 3G phone. By clicking phones together with a friend, you can instantly transfer photos, pictures and more in an instant. Another recent Samsung commercial boasts on how you can instantly send photos to friends in your “select circle” as you’re taking them.

There are plenty of examples of how social networks are everywhere and anywhere we need them to be. We’ve grown accustomed to having social media constantly at our fingertips and are consistently trying to find new ways to access them quicker. In our instant gratification society we need to be able to quickly share our memories on four different platforms with one click of a button. And at this rate, it’s going to be a long time before the “biggest thing” finally hits without rebuttal.

Branded Storytelling in Invisible Children

I recently read an article titled “7 Reasons Why Storytelling is Important in Branding” and was fixated on the point that stories can motivate an audience toward a goal. This quickly reminded me of the Invisible Children movement and how its branding effectively charged people towards their goal.

Though this wasn’t a marketing campaign (though some would argue otherwise) it effectively added tragedy and dramatics into it’s political campaign in order to work toward its goal. By adding a story to this widespread genocide, it was able to put a face on the problem and rally the population together toward this common goal.

It pulls on the emotions of citizens in the United States by making us feel guilty for being apathetic towards world problems, and by adding this emotion it forces us to connect with the issue. By making this video a story more than just factual evidence, it makes us want to share with all our friends while hyping up the campaign.

I more than anyone am guilty of this method. As soon as you have me crying you have my attention, and I’m the type of person that just needs an excuse to get involved in anything. I immediately wanted to donate all my money and run in the streets to get everyone involved. This is how they effectively marketed their political campaign to gain both awareness and activism.

This is the same way you should be marketing your brand. You must connect and leave a lasting impression, so that the message will carry on long after the commercial ends.

Media Overload

No longer can a group of people sit together in a room without being connected to technology. You sit around the T.V. with your family and one of more members are on a computer/iPad/etc. Go out with your friends for food and at least half the time you can find someone roaming through Facebook or posting a picture of their food on Instagram. Why is it that our society can longer just enjoy the moment that they’re in without having to recreate the current moment through multiple digital platforms?

I’m just as guilty as the next, but when you sit back and think about how reliant our culture has become on different digital platforms it’s pretty sad. Popular media theories state “the world has become a digital playground” where half of the adventure for the day lies on the internet. And an event does not exist until it is on the Internet. Try and think of an entire day where you went out into the world and did not use your phone to post, tweet, or share a part of your experiences. For most of us, it’s a small amount.

We are now the creators, the distributors and the consumers. We post our opinions on our blogs, we share comments on articles, we distribute through reposting and we consume through our dozens of social media platforms. Media is around us everyday everywhere and has definitely reached a point of overload.

Joe the Plumber: the Infamous Persona

The infamous Joe the Plumber.

Anyone remember the infamous ‘Joe the Plumber’ from the 2008 presidential campaign? Somehow what started as a simple persona turned into a new level of stardom for the average American citizen. There have even been reports that Joe plans on running for Congress in the next election.

What’s funny about this situation is that Joe was simply a ploy in the campaign to try and gain your vote. Though he is obviously a real person, he was not used in countless campaign speeches because of his popularity. It was because he was the perfect persona for McCain’s campaign.

His life was the life of a target audience in the campaign.  What he liked, loved and believed was probably the same as hundreds of thousands other voters out there, and to reach them meant to reach Joe. So Joe became the target.

To say this is a huge factor in marketing in an understatement.

To reach a market, you need to know the market. Don’t just create a campaign, figure out who to target your campaign to.

Spending extra time researching will save you much more time failing.

The Primetime of Social Media

Just like primetime television there are specific times you should be posting to reach your audience.

How many times have you posted something you thought to be brilliant on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to receive no recognition at all? Leaving you wondering, “maybe I’m not as hilarious as I thought…”

 

Luckily it may have nothing to do with you at all. According to socialcaffeine.com, there are premium times you should be posting your “brilliant” thoughts in order to receive the ‘likes’ and retweets you deserve. And for marketers using social media to further their business, this information is as important as knowing the primetime spot on nightly television.

 

Now these times aren’t exactly a “revelation” of information, as if we didn’t know that people don’t spend their entire weekend on the Internet. But it should definitely be an eye-opener. If you’re creating remarkable content for your brand but no one is there to see it, might as well not be creating at all. Consumption is just as important as content, and vice versa.

So the next time you think of that witty status update, classic meme or fascinating marking tip check to make sure its between the premium viewing hours. Chances are it’ll be worth the wait.

The Times They Are a-Changin’

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
-Eric Hoffer

After going through four years of college for journalism, I know more than anyone that if you don’t learn to adapt now you won’t survive. Darwinism at it’s best.

Media is advancing at a rapid pace and taking an entirely new direction from the previous century. Every traditional form of media- including newspapers, magazines, and books- are transitioning to their digital counterpart, leaving the world of mass media in a state of convergence. And as an up-and-coming writer I need to learn every possible media avenue, from blogs to HTML, in order to keep up.

Which is why this marketing class will come in such handy. Not only will it teach me how to use the different platforms of social media including Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress, but how to use them effectively. And in this day and age it’s about social interaction. Engagement with your audience and active participation in the conversation are what grab the readers of today.

We live in a participatory culture where people like to be involved in the creation, circulation and interpretation of media by leaving comments and reposting articles as they choose. This deepens their emotional investment to the media thus furthering engagement i.e. they continue to read our stories because they get attached to the topic.

So as a writer I’m learning to listen as much as I talk. To involve as much as I create. Because honestly I need you guys way more than you need me.

Social media has transformed the world of mass media.

New Beginnings

At a certain point in life you need to stop talking about what you’re going to do and start doing it. For me, that thing is blogging.

I put myself through college with a love of writing to someday become a writer in a time where writing is going out of style. Or better yet, it got a new style. And that style in on a computer screen. And yet, I still have not become faithful to a blog I can call my own. Sure I’ve had attempts in the past but without conviction and promise.

But here is a chance for a new beginning. A reason to create a regimen. And yes, it may be a project for a class but that’s just how the story begins. And there’s no telling where it could end.

So here’s a toast to the beginning of the rest of my life.

Tomorrow will always be a new day.