Facebook Probed Us! What the Experiment Means for Marketing



Profiling consumers has become easier than ever in the last 15 years due to technology and our emotional interaction with the internet. Most of us – myself included – offer up our emotions to the entire digital world on a daily basis. We share our angst and content. We share what is funny to us and what makes us gag. We also share our life events and what is going on in our communities.

With all our feelings and opinions out in the ether, it was only a matter of time before tech giant Facebook began to play with the data. By manipulating the tone of the information available to users, Facebook was able to show that emotions are contagious through networks. Negative emotions from one status update can actually change the mood of the person viewing it. Additionally, users “liked” more posts if positive information was available to the user. On the other hand, when negative posts were added, users were less inclined to “like” posts in general.

Without clues from body language or voice inflection, Facebook users are able to empathize with others based solely on words. Imagine what happens when someone looks at a happy video or happy photo. If words alone can cause a measurable difference in mood, what power does an image have? More importantly, how can you use this information to improve your marketing campaign?

Power of Positive

This controversial study proves that people respond more effusively to positive stimuli than to negative stimuli. To draw in potential clients, does marketing need to stay on the positive side? I think that the answer to that question relies solely on one thing…what is the definition of positive? Can marketing be edgy and dark but still be perceived as positive? Is a positive ad for a bank the same as a positive ad for a non-profit organization?

As marketing increasingly relies on observational data, it will become important to identify what consumers respond to best. To be effective, businesses will need to more clearly define what a positive experience really means for the majority of people in their largest consumer demographic. However, due to human nature, defining a positive experience will be a monumental task for businesses and marketing professionals.

Science, Math, and Marketing

The field of neuroscience, combined with advanced analytical tools, will help to shed light on consumer buying habits and motives. Determining why a sale is made (or not made) for the majority of your consumers based on statistical analysis will help your marketing campaign to have more solvency and increase revenue. This means that the days of relying on a gut feeling are over, ladies and gentlemen; it’s curtains for instinct and opening night for big-data.

If your company does not already use an analytics tool for digital marketing,  it is time to hop on the bandwagon, and find one right now! Facebook’s experiment proves what most marketing professionals already know; marketing is about the emotional response. Though some people are emotionally intelligent enough to inherently understand the motivations behind consumer purchasing, most people are not. To really understand the consumer, data is needed and a lot of it.

Don’t Be Upset, Use It!

Marketing is rapidly evolving to keep up with big-data and global consumers, and new sources of information about consumers pop up everyday. Don’t let the negative response surrounding Facebook’s experiment get in the way of your marketing success. It is clear that consumers respond better to positive information than negative, and it is now your job to make sure that is reflected in your marketing campaign.

Furthermore, as technology advances, Facebook will not be the only tech giant conducting social experiments. Social media platforms already analyze what is trending for their users, and it would only take a few algorithm changes to gather even more data about users. Taking advantage of the knowledge these platforms collect is essential for a great marketing campaign.

Big-data is no joke and using it to drive business can be challenging. Marketing firms like Virtue Marketing can ease the stress related to using data in marketing. Let us transform your business through the power of modern marketing techniques. If you aren’t a marketing professional, trying to create a campaign based on advanced analytics is not a great use of your time. VM can help you to maximize your time and resources by handling all of your marketing needs while you focus on other tasks.

Send us an email with your questions, and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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