Occupying The Disconnect With The Mainstream

While this isn't my photo, I admit that I agree with it completely.

The old saying goes, in advertising circle, “perception is reality.”

And, if this is the case than the Occupy Wall Street movement is in a bit of trouble. Its numbers are growing as more people from the left are mobilized for certain. But any social media marketer will tell you with certainty that numbers of followers are meaningless. It’s the connection that you have with those followers and the ability to spread a message through them. And, of course, no matter how many followers you have, it’s the perception of those outside that you’re trying to influence to become followers that matters most of all.

Today I read a statistic on Politico’s Twitter account that made how the Occupy movement is failing in winning over the hearts and minds of the populace of the United States. Only 37% of the population supports Occupy Wall Street.

On the surface, this might seem like a pretty high number. After all, only 19% of voters in the United States consider themselves liberal.

But here’s the problem. Based on the numbers on individual issues that they support, Occupy Wall Street *should* be doing much better.

Where’s the disconnect? It’s in the fact that those opposed to the movement have managed to create some negative perceptions around it. Listening to the likes of Fox News, the people camped in the park are all a) unemployed hippies, b) Marxists, and c) just want handouts from the government.

All of which would make the average image-conscious person in the United States not want to be a part of the movement. When, in reality, what they agree with the movement about should make it in their best interest to be part of it.  I have to admit that when a friend did a great presentation on social media for Occupy D.C., I was reluctant to go.

When I did, I was shocked at how clean and organized it was. In fact, it might be a bit too regimented for me.

Also surprising was the diversity of the campers. Although new research should have made that less surprising. 70% of people who are participating in the movement are employed.

So where’s the problem? Why don’t people realize this? Of course the media plays a part in this. But the Occupy Movement is not helping itself by not having any leaders as such to speak to the media and present a mainstream face. I have noticed contact numbers on the many Twitter accounts representing the movement but as far as who is getting interviewed on the news, it could be anybody. People with “odd” piercings, “wild” hair, or covered in tattoos. Perfectly normal in many circles, but not among a lot of swing voters. The Tea Party doesn’t just throw out Joe Sixpack in a trucker cap to answer questions about what it stands for.

Occupy intentionally tries to be a leaderless movement. But, due to this, they have no public face. The Tea Party started out this way as well, but people quickly formed organizations around it who have spokespeople who can spread talking points.

Like it or not, they’re now a brand. As such they need marketing. They need a message. They need to build an image.

They also need to focus on two to three things instead of trying to get everything that’s been on their wishlist for the entirety of the Bush and now Obama presidencies. Occupy D.C. makes more sense to me personally because it’s definitively about getting money out of politics. If Occupy Wall Street would focus on the same thing – full time – they would have more people in the United States on their side.

Anyone with a brand to manage will tell you that you need one thing that people think of when they think of you. For the Tea Party this is, “they want to cut spending.” Occupy Wall Street needs to be something like, “they want to take money out of politics.”

Even Rush Limbaugh ranted about how the political process was corrupted about money. Now I would never hope to lure him into Occupy Wall Street no matter what kind of face it presents to the public (and, honestly, would anyone want him nowadays). But there are plenty of people in the United States to the left of him who could easily be supporting the movement if it would reach out to them correctly.

I know there are some smart people in the movement. And creative people as well. It shouldn’t be that hard.


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