Sunday, August 18, 2013

Facebook Like Ads And Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence

Multi-level marketing companies like Tupperware and Herbalife have used small-group cohesion to gain a marketing edge for ages. Now Facebook "like" ads are tapping into the same social dynamics, and doing it on massive scale to advertise any brands. This post analyzes Facebook "like" ads using Cialdini's theory to show the puppet strings which Facebook pulls to control its users.

Cialdini's Six Principles of Influence

Robert Cialdini is a professor of psychology and the author of the popular science book Influence, which is structured around Six Principles of Influence:

  1. Reciprocity: We generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us. For example, if a colleague helps you when you're busy with a project, you might feel obliged to support her ideas.
  2. Commitment and consistency: Once we are committed to something, we're more inclined to go through with it because we have a deep desire to be consistent. For example, various foot-in-the-door tactics aim to get you committed to a small deal and then accept bigger concessions.
  3. Social proof: People find "safety in numbers" and are more likely to do what they see others doing.
  4. Liking: We are more influenced by people which are familiar or similar to us and whom we like.
  5. Authority: We are more likely to comply to requests made by people in position of power or who are respected experts like doctors.
  6. Scarcity: We are more likely to accept a deal, which is limited or which we temporarily get on favorable terms.

How Facebook Like Ads Differ From Regular Ads

While regular ads show only the sponsor's message, Facebook "like" ads also add a tagline "John Smith liked ConsumerBrand", where John Smith is one of your friends. Out of Six Principles of Influence, "like" ads automatically include Social Proof - at least one of your friends already likes ConsumerBrand - and Liking - someone familiar you like and perhaps even respect and admire, is using ConsumerBrand.

Regular ads have to fall down to milder forms of Social Proof and Liking, for example "million nobodies have purchased this book" or "a household name celebrity is using this product.", while "like" ads can tap directly into product recommenders whom Facebook knows to be familiar to you, tapping straight into the imitational instincts which keep small groups functional.

Hint for Facebook: Show More Credit Card Images

Cialdini's Influence contains one more tip which Facebook could use to move more money out of users' pockets to their own pockets, sending the subliminal message "Buy! Buy! Consume! Consume! Obey! Obey!" and implementing the Boydian satanist principle "the strong rule the weak and the clever rule the strong" even more effectively.

Within modern life, credit cards are a device with a psychologically noteworthy characteristic. They allow us to get the immediate benefits of goods and services while deferring the costs weeks into the future. Consequently, we are more likely to associate credit cards ... with the positive rather than negative aspects of spending.

Consumer researcher Richard Feinberg wondered what effects the presence of such credit card materials had on our tendencies to spend. ... First, restaurant patrons gave larger tips when paying with a credit card instead of cash. In a second study, college students were willing to spend an average of 29 percent more money for mail-order catalog items when they examined the items in a room that contained some MasterCard insignias; moreover, they had no awareness that the credit card insignias were part of the experiment. A final study showed that when asked to contirbute to charity, college students were markedly more likely to give money if the room they were in contained MasterCard insignias than if it did not (87 percent versus 33 percent.)

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