your pages to an absolute minimum. Focus people on engagingwith your content if you wish to ensure that you do not only work for the intelligentsia.
Woolwich videos go viral – butwhy?
The horrendous attack of a soldier in Woolwich was undeniablybarbaric. We can only imagine what his poor family must be goingthrough; sudden death is always difficult to cope with, but evenmore so in such a terrible public way. Also, we must wonderabout the parents of the young man photographed with blood onhis hands, almost celebrating the fact that the soldier was killed. Iwonder how his mother feels today. Yesterday she was probablythinking that her son was just out on a shopping trip; the next thingshe sees is a video of him admitting to having hacked a defencelessman to death.Events like this affect many people; the witnesses are unlikelyto ever forget what they saw. Some may well suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. One man was killed in an horrific way,but dozens of others will suffer psychologically for many years tocome. There are many other victims.The online world may also contribute to the victim count.Hundreds of thousands of people have already watched the graphicvideos online that the TV channels have clearly decided not torebroadcast. But with the vast increase in “citizen journalism” andthe spread of user generated content, the public at large can nolonger be protected from the horrors of the world.Yet what is interesting to consider is the spread of such horriblevideos and images. If the material is so dreadful, why do peopleshare it?Researchers at theUniversity of Alabamahave discovered why.It is a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion”. Essentially,we want to share things – negative or positive – that have affectedus deeply. It is the same reason why people share funny videos ortitillating ones for that matter. Online content goes viral becauseit affects us.So, even though we may be horrified by the events we should notbe tooconcernedabout the sharing of those dreadful videos of thebutchery that took place in South Easy London yesterday. Indeed,the very fact that they are being shared is testament to the fact thatwe are deeply affected by them. It demonstrates the true horror weall feel about what happened.
Apple, Google, Starbucks – whatwe “feel” matters most
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, says the company pays all the tax itowes and follows the “spirit” of the law. That “spirit” has allowedthe company to earn $74bn through anIrish subsidiaryand onlypay a tax rate of 0.05% on it. Apple is not alone, of course. Inspite of earning billions, Starbucks has only paid an average of £533,333 in tax in the UK for the past 15 years. The row became sointense the company evenvolunteeredto stump up some extra cashfor the Government kitty. Meanwhile, the Google chairman, EricSchmidt, has had to speak out anddefend the companyfollowingthe grilling it received in the House of Commons recently.Wherever you look, big international brands are under fire frompoliticians. Of course, that’s understandable; the politicians havebeen partially responsible for the world’s economic turmoil andthey need cash to patch up the holes they created. Anyone withloads of cash – and Apple has a spare $100bn slopping about – isfair target for the politicians.But there is another issue – fairness. Does it seem fair that Applepays a rate of 0.05% tax where you pay between 20% and 45% on– I imagine – a lot less income? Does it seem fair that Google inthe UK does not conduct any actual sales transactions here, but the“deal” is firmed up via an email from Ireland? Or does that seemlike “bending the rules”?I am sure a tax lawyer will tell us that the companies are merelyusing the legal framework as set by governments and internationalagreements. Maybe.But the companies need to listen more to psychologists than theirlawyers. Why? Becausenew researchsuggests there could be animpact on the businesses themselves if they carry on with this“we follow the law” rigmarole. The study shows the influence of brand on decision making. The researchers showed that decisionsto purchase are changed when we are faced with preferred brands.It seems we could make a decision to buy something, but as soonas one of our preferred brands comes into the mix our decisionmaking is altered.Importantly, the researchers point out that a key element in this iswhat psychologists call “affect”. That means the emotional moodyou feel. In other words it is not the prices or the quality of theproducts that influences your attraction to brands, but how you feelabout them. In other words, it is your emotional response.So how is your emotional response to Apple who say they followthe spirit of the law, yet pay almost no tax on billions of income?How isyour emotional response to Google who say they “do noevil” yet hardly contribute to the Inland Revenue? The chancesare you are going to feel more negative towards these brands thanbefore. And that is their problem.