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Posted by Tom van Laer - @tvanlaer at 10:13 - 7 Comments

Tom van Laer answers the question posed in response to his blog on 17th October, 2012.

Thank you, Abhijin, for this interesting question.

Depending on your age and memory, developments in the modern marketing industry seem radically new or reassuringly old. To me the past five years have seemed like the former. I perceive a new deal: Whereas in the past 150 years, media have been pushed to people, today consumers get to be part of the conversation. Using a Facebook-inspired approach, I argue that companies can piggyback on social actions by online users, because people ultimately influence people.

These claims of course echo Katz and Lazarsfeld who argue that marketers do not simply broadcast messages to a passive audience but rather that they target certain "opinion leaders" who then spread, confirm, or negate the marketers' messages through their own "social relationships," whether by word of mouth or personal example. Yet Katz and Lazarsfeld also assume that most of these conversations, and their implicit marketing messages, remain inaudible to firms. The notion that firms might eavesdrop on this chatter became widely conceivable with the rise of weblogs (blogs). Thus Searls and Weinberger could argue that "markets are conversations," and blogs can make the conversations transparent.

To the earliest practitioners of this new media form, blogging entailed regular sharing of written stories, later adding photos and videos, about themselves and their experiences, with a few interested friends and relatives. Today lots of Internet users do similar things, though they may not consider it blogging; instead, they only see themselves as updating their profile pages on Facebook, MySpace, or other social media sites. Whether in the form of blogs or profile pages though, these are persuasive narratives about who the posters are and what they have been doing.


Latest comments 7 Comments

31 October 2012
Interesting Q&A, thanks both. I'd argue that storytelling allows audiences ("customers" or others) to imagine ("be transported into" as Tom says) a possible state of affairs in which they might adopt the storyteller's view. What makes stories persuasive is that they actually rely on the audience to create the persuasive arguments for themselves. This element of self-persuasion is extremely powerful as it is not subject to the same scrutiny as we reserve for "external" persuasion.
01 November 2012
Thank you for this Marie. With reference to your argument, both cognitive psychologists and consumer culture theory researchers support the notion of an active role of the consumer. However, extant persuasion research does not yet account for possible effects of co-creation on narrative transportation. As such, your argument may help us understand a possible narrative transportation experience when there is forewarning of persuasive intent.
01 November 2012
I say we explore this area together, Tom! I'd also love to hear back from Abhijin who seemed interested in this fascinating topic, and anyone else wishing to contribute to the discussion.
Abhijin said...
12 November 2012
Forgive me if my comments come across as pedestrian. As a student trying to understand the giant of Social Media, I wonder if the persuasive intent would be the very reason leading to a burnout at the consumer's end. I understand that not everyone will get it right, but sooner or later, this medium will also be extensively used by people who don't understand it well enough, then leading to withdrawal from the medium. With a forewarning of persuasive intent, or even without external persuasion, would a consumer be interested long enough?
12 November 2012
Hi Abhijin, Thanks again for your comment. I am afraid there may be some miscommunication. Forewarning of persuasive intent makes people aware that their attitude comes under fire. That induces them to defend their point of view, which reduces the efficacy of the message. However, all this occurs after attention or interest for the message. Whether consumers stay interested in social media is a different question altogether.
Abhijin said...
12 November 2012
Thank you very much for clearing it out for me. My apologies on having assumed before brushing up my reading. The link is beginning to appear. Shall wait for the next post.
12 November 2012
Hi Abhijin, No worries, we aim to explain :) If you are interested in academic literature on forewarning of persuasive intent, I'd like to refer to the work of Quinn and Wood; for instance, their paper in 2003 in Psychological Bulletin. Enjoy!


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