Thursday, September 11, 2008

Citizen Endorsements

What is the most influential persuasion, an endorsement from someone we know. It still remains the case that many people are influenced far more by their parents and peers than any highly expensive communication strategy. The second most influential persuasion is supposedly, and say supposedly because it is based on theory and sporadic bits of research, is an endorsement from someone like ourselves. Therefore we may consider ourselves as members of social groups and so wish to be close to that group and so adjust our behaviour and attitudes to match members of that group: for social group this is identifiers rather than simple demographics, employment, but for example for me real ale lovers may be a group I wish to assimilate with and so adopt more broader commonalities with the members of the group (I shall resist a beard and woolly jumper though!).

So where is this going, well advertisers have long used the 'ordinary person' to endorse a product; I question whether anyone believes they are anything but an actor. Obama, very powerfully I think, used videos made by 'members of his movement' that endorsed him as then democratic candidate. The Conservative Party will attempt to replicate this. In their e-newsletter they state "We want to build a collection of short video clips with people explaining why they're Conservative". While the party perhaps do not need to worry about public support at the moment, the fear for any challenger is that the waverers among the electorate will worry about inexperience (one factor that led to Kinnock's defeat in 1992 despite looking like the winner in polls) and switch to the incumbent. The montage of endorsements should include a cross-section of voters and so could, if publicised right, be something that can be used to bolster support. The idea is that 'if Mr X, real ale lover from Cornwall is willing to back the Conservatives then I might trust them as well', theoretically it is a powerful persuasive tool!

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