Commentary accompanying anti-smoking public service announcements (PSAs) in online forums like YouTube has an impact on the PSA’s overall effectiveness. Both negative and positive comments accompanying PSAs degrade the persuasiveness of the videos.
According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, viewer commentary on PSAs have become an integral part of a PSA’s overall message.
“One thing is very clear: It is no longer possible to consider the influence of news or other messages in the public information environment apart from the comments which follow them,” write Rui Shi, a doctoral candidate at Annenberg, and Profs. Paul Messaris and Joseph N. Cappella.
I guess that means that if you write “Baloney!” under an antismoking ad, it really does make it less persuasive.
“The detrimental effect of comments […] seems to suggest anti-smoking PSAs would be better off without comments, especially if the PSAs are strong or if the target audience is somewhat ready to quit smoking,” they write. The power of audience participation via social media is clearly a double-edge sword.
I must remember that.
But it isn’t really very surprising. I’m very often as interested in the comments under something as I am in the main item.
And if comments aren’t permitted, I tend to wonder why. I usually conclude that they’re trying to shut people up, or they don’t want to know what anyone else thinks.
Which happens to be true for Tobacco Control.