I was on jury duty last week. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say it was a criminal case and we ended up finding the defendant guilty. He will probably go to prison and it’s sobering to realize that you may have had something to do with sealing his fate. Choice does matter, though sometimes more than others.
So what do juries have to do with marketing and what is the connection between jury trials and social media? Well there’s the obvious, that a jury is just like any other audience and the lawyers are like competing brand marketers trying to spin their narrative so that you will choose one side over the other. But I think it goes a little deeper than that. Being a juror, I was not only a member of the target audience, but also a key influencer on the decision of the rest of the audience; the jury.
The attorneys did their best to convince us, from their opening statements where they each painted vastly different scenarios, through the presentation of evidence and down to their closing arguments where they tried to make the sale. But, back in the jury room, we saw right through the manipulations of “facts” and in the end pretty much discounted everything the lawyers said and relied on our own judgments and the perceptions and persuasiveness of our fellow jurors. We believed each other because we knew we had no vested interest in the outcome, except for making the right choice.
Again, what does this have to do with social media? Well, to my mind, the lawyers were like traditional advertising. They sure looked sharp when they were presenting, but after you got out of the room, their pitches went right out the door. What prevailed was the common sense and back and forth examination of the evidence and intelligent choices made by consensus. To me, this is a perfect embodiment of what social media is all about. Social media gives us the opportunity to reach out to our fellow consumers (jurors), listen to each other’s arguments and through discussion and interaction, reach a conclusion that results in a choice being made. In this case, the choice was guilty or not. For consumers it may one brand over another.
I left the jury room feeling I had made the best choice I could have and I was supported in that decision by my fellow jurors. I only hope I will feel that way next month when I start looking for a new wireless carrier.