Seth Godin writes about manipulators and Dilbert creator Scott Adams writes about manipulation.
Every day, there are literally hundreds of ad agencies working hard, trying to figure out how to slip corporate ideas into the system under the guise of it being homemade and real.
Seth wonders when politicians were going to start manipulating social media… I guess he didn't hear that Katherine Harris already tried it with her blog when a staffer made the first few comments (keenly tracked back to them by IP address by a watchful citizen).
If free will exists, why do the tallest candidates with the best hair usually win elections?
I'm not sure if you've ever heard of “black hat” versus “white hat” search engine optimization, but it's the perfect dichotomy of this topic. Black Hat SEO is the manipulation of search engines to gain placement through methods that are not genuine. White Hat SEO is the engineering of content to improve placement in Search Engines in order to improve business results. The goal of both is to improve search placement… but white hat is doing it because they think it should have better placement.
My response to both the observation of Seth and the comment by Scott is that people are, for the most part, ignorant. We trust a face, a smell, a brand, a handshake… a color. All of these external influences evoke emotions within us. Marketers hope that the right combination of emotions will lead us to purchase. Very seldom do we try to do the hard work to really understand something. If you really want to sell something crappy to someone, tell them how it will feel, not how well it works.
Some other examples:
- Paris Hilton selling hamburgers.
- Verizon selling their ‘network of thousands' behind you (I wish they were behind the counter instead)
- Nascar selling UPS Shipping
Heck, you can even download your favorite song from a Tide commercial at the Tide site! Don't believe me? Here's one:[audio:https://martech.zone/audio/tidesong.mp3]
It's the same reason why dog food has food coloring. Dogs are color blind do not see colors as humans do. Color doesn't add flavor or nutrition. Isn't it as manipulative for a dog food company to add food coloring to dog food as it is for a company to set up a phony submission on Digg? Sure it is… but the fact is that people buy it because it ‘looks good'. Who wants to take the time to check the back of the package for fat content, artificial ingredients, natural ingredients… most of us don't.
As long as there is a benefit to manipulating people or technology, the black hats will always be around to profit from it.