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Don’t alienate the core audience

April 8, 2010

It will go unnoticed for many years yet, but there’s a new development in natural evolution. Built into the DNA of any media junky is a core truth: consider your core audience first and the rest will follow.

Advocacy. It’s what the internet – and more specifically the principal behind social networking – is built upon.

Long gone is the time when people will follow merely because they’ve been dictated to. Freedom of speech means that there are more voices. Those with the clearest, most engaging voices will earn their audience. And with that audience they will share and by extension they will influence.

Two examples – the first I’ll cover in this post, the second in the next one – where this principle has been overlooked provide a warning for the coming couple of months. They’re also polar opposites.

The Digital Economy Bill

I suspect the vast majority of people won’t have considered the bill or it’s ramifications swiftly pushed through the Commons last night (with a few amendments).

This might be because those who did object to it were those who could be referred to core users of the internet, people who understood the radical nature of the infrastructure, those who embraced that radical nature. In short, those people could be regarded as early adopters of the internet. Those individuals were the first inhabitants of the land, if you like.

To see “their” internet be subject to tighter regulation – that which passed into law this afternoon – was tantamount trampling all over a fundamental principle. The debate was attended by a small number of MPs – according to Wired UK 40 MPs – put before the Commons the following day where it won with a majority of 189 to 47.

The details of the controversial bill aren’t the subject of this blog post. More it’s effect and whether or not it could represent a turning point, not just in terms of the future UK internet in light of this legislation but what effect it’s path through Parliament has on the vocal users of the internet in the run up to the internet.

A simple rule of human life …

Because, surely everyone (let alone media junkies) knows the simple rule of human life that pissing off the vocal bunch to such an extent they understandably feel justified setting up camp and naming it “Disaffected” is a decidely bad thing to be doing in the run up to a general election?

I mean, really? Surely that’s just common sense, isn’t it?

And in case you’re wondering whether I’m making a political point about the bill in particular, I’m not.

The debating of the Digital Economy Bill through the House Of Commons begs the question why so few MPs considered it acceptable not to attend a debate about a piece of legislation central to the future economy of the UK, when the following day when it was put to a vote there were considerably more present in the Chamber. If they could get along to the vote on day two of the election campaign, why couldn’t they get along to the debate on day one?

And that’s potentially the most damaging thing of all for ALL MPs. If there are voters around disillusioned with politicians, then such an act is only going to alienate those voters even more.

It will either alienate or galvanise

If it doesn’t alienate those voters, it’s surely only going to galvanise the vocal disaffected to mount a vociferous campaign.

And it doesn’t take a political campaign man to work out how damaging that could be cross-party. It won’t get reported of course like the MPs expenses scandal was because the good guys and the bad guys in this episode don’t make for great copy.

Great news for the journalist

Nonetheless, could the aftermath of the #debill mark the turning point. Could the #debill turn the election into the internet election everyone reckoned would never happened?

It comes back to that core truth anyone who depends on the media (in all of it’s forms) should never forget:

Don’t alienate the core audience. You’d be surprised what they can do.

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