Category Archives: Business

exchanging goods and services for money

Creating Buzz with Vibrators

Hmmm. Business is slowing. We need more customers. Let’s give away our product for free. And make sure we get a lot of media attention so the promotion functions as advertising. How about this?

Look carefully at the picture to see the smart persuasion. Look at the women. Hardly the stereotype that comes to mind when you are primed with the word, “vibrator.”

While a free sample is the obvious persuasion play here, note those women. They are not metaphoric sex toys themselves, but rather are much more approachable, typical, just folks looking. While they are attractive in an average sense, it is not their attractiveness that makes them persuasive. It’s Comparison. They look like real people meaning they look like you and me. And if Other People (especially Other People who look like me) Are Doing It, You Should To!

Social Media as Focus Group Poetry

Wow. Some practical persuaders are putting Social Media to good use. Consider a couple of examples.

Visitors to the new Lay’s Facebook app are asked to suggest new flavors and click an “I’d Eat That” button to register their preferences . . . When Wal-Mart wanted to know whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores, it studied Twitter chatter. Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand asked social media users to vote on which discontinued shades to bring back. The stuffed-animal brand Squishable solicited Facebook feedback before settling on the final version of a new toy. And Samuel Adams asked users to vote on yeast, hops, color and other qualities to create a crowdsourced beer, an American red ale called B’Austin Ale that got rave reviews.

Of course, this is not systematic or controlled, even by marketing research standards. As one marketer notes:

“This is like the biggest focus group someone could ever imagine,” Mr. LaRow said.

While a focus group is useful, no persuasion maven worth her smile and a shoeshine would ever give her heart to focus group data. It is the mark of the persuasion muggle to convene focus groups to discover anything other than jibber-jabber or more politely a compelling quote with an iconic face to wrap around your empirical research.

So. Social Media does have persuasion applications . . . as a focus group. Thus, it is a kind of weak research tool that provides indications, suggestions, shadows. Remember the Rule.

Drive with Science, Putt with Poetry.

Social media may function as a kind of poetry from which you can draw fragments, phrases, meters and rhythms. But remember, you’ve got to get close to the hole with science. And, there’s not much science for persuasion in Social Media.

Oz on Cue

Illustrating a persuasion Cue doesn’t get much easier than this.

Samantha Feld does not watch much television. But Ms. Feld, a 23-year-old publicist, is a loyal follower of the television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz. “Whatever he would say, I would just follow that,” Ms. Feld said. “He’s an authority.”

This regarding that doctor who plays a doctor on TV, Dr. Oz. He’s a doctor, in case you missed that. Oz is an expert . . .

When Prevention put him on its October 2011 cover, newsstand sales jumped by 45 percent from the year before. Shape editors reported a more than 10 percent jump in sales when Dr. Oz appeared on its November 2011 cover with his wife. Dr. Oz has become so popular that some magazines, like Woman’s World and First for Women, put him on their covers without his consent.

. . . at selling magazines to a sweet spot demographic:

It helps that his television viewers also read magazines. His show attracts a following of women aged 25 to 54 who are, according to one study, 126 percent more likely than the average person to read women’s magazines.

The biggest health risks a woman aged 25 to 54 faces are the man in her life and pregnancy. Other than those problems, it’s hard to find anyone in the world healthier than an adult woman living in the United States. Of course, many of them don’t believe that and instead tune in and turn on with Dr. Oz, the doctor who plays a doctor on TV. It’s the olive oil, baby.

She added more olive oil to her diet because of his suggestion . . .

We missed that story from the Harvard Tooth Fairy Tale Factory. It appears that olive oil plays a massive role in health and longevity of adult American women. Must be somewhere around a 5% increase, I’d guess, given that Dr. Oz, a doctor who plays a doctor on TV, recommends it to 23 year old women in imminent danger of dying.

You see why health care costs continue to rise even with a Constitutional tax/mandate that reforms Health Care. A photogenic and media savvy guy with the right credential and the snappy patter of a magician attracts healthy people and convinces them that they are dying unless they lubricate with olive oil. No one has to think in the presence of the Cue. Again.

“Whatever he would say, I would just follow that,” Ms. Feld said. “He’s an authority.”

That quote sounds like I’m paying Feld to say that for the Persuasion Blog rather than as a testimonial for Dr. Oz, the doctor who plays a doctor on TV, oh, and magazines. I mean, goodness, consider the tag line for the Authority Cue in the CLARCCS chapter of the Primer.

When the Source Is An Authority, You Can Believe It.

Persuasion is sometimes this easy. Here’s a persuasion expert’s take on it.

“We’re in transition. It’s much harder to find a person who speaks to lots of different groups,” Ms. Murphy said. “If you were looking for a doctor, this would be your guy. There’s always a need for a doctor, especially since George Clooney left ‘ER.’ ”

I don’t always follow a doctor’s advice, but when I do, I follow Dr. Oz, the doctor who plays a doctor on TV.

Stay gullible, my friends.

P.S. Why not a Wizard of Oz angle? Dr. Oz is both the man behind the curtain and the man in front of the curtain. Dr. Oz is selling your belief back to you just like the Wizard, so it only works when you believe, not when you do what he says. And, since this story aims at women: the Ruby Slippers. All a girl has to do is click her heels together and she’s back home, safe and sound, just like Dr. Oz said. Hey, if you’re a babe between 25 and 54, don’t believe anything Dr. Oz says, until you step out with these!

Another Pill for Low T

Gee. Feeling Low T? Down on everyone. Can’t rely on anyone. Everybody’s out to get you. Here. Take this pill. It contains oxytocin. You’ll trust everyone again.


Could a single molecule—one chemical substance—lie at the very center of our moral lives? Research that I have done over the past decade suggests that a chemical messenger called oxytocin accounts for why some people give freely of themselves and others are coldhearted louts, why some people cheat and steal and others you can trust with your life, why some husbands are more faithful than others, and why women tend to be nicer and more generous than men. In our blood and in the brain, oxytocin appears to be the chemical elixir that creates bonds of trust not just in our intimate relationships but also in our business dealings, in politics and in society at large.

Look, I appreciate the need to sell a book and an article in the WSJ extolling the virtues of oxytocin as explained in your book is a good way to do that. But oxytocin “is the center of our moral lives?” Here’s the guy’s own research.

Our hypothesis that oxytocin increases the trusting behaviour of investors implies that the investors in the oxytocin group (n = 29) will show higher money transfers than those in the placebo group (n = 29). In fact, our data show that oxytocin increases investors’ trust considerably. Out of the 29 subjects, 13 (45%) in the oxytocin group showed the maximal trust level, whereas only 6 of the 29 subjects (21%) in the placebo group showed maximal trust (Fig. 2a). In contrast, only 21% of the subjects in the oxytocin group had a trust level below 8 monetary units (MU), but 45% of the subjects in the control group showed such low levels of trust . . . The investors’ average transfer is 17% higher in the oxytocin group (Mann-Whitney U-test; z = -1.897, P = 0.029, one-sided).

Participants received either oxytocin or a placebo, then played a trust game with another person. More of the oxytocin players showed a higher level of trust (45%) compared to placebo (21%). Yeah, yeah, the effect is statistically significant and hurray, this is an experiment with random assignment to controlled conditions. But, look at the effect size. It’s a Small plus Windowpane, about 40/60.

That’s the center of our moral universe?

A persuasive claim if you don’t think about the science or All Bad Science Is Persuasive.

Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul J. Zak, Urs Fischbacher & Ernst Fehr. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature 435, 673-676

doi: 10.1038/nature03701

Counting Viral Persuasion on Facebook

Good counts on Facebook are hard to find. Bad counts – all those stupendous numbers on total users, number of posts, network size, yada-yada – are plentiful, but getting good counts on persuasion impact are few and far between. Which is why this is so useful.

A couple of B-school researchers partnered with an app designer to study Word of Mouth characteristics on Facebook that led to peer adoption of a new app. The app in question focused on movies and the film industry in general and allowed people to post and share comments on the topic with their Facebook friends who also had the app. The researchers ran a paid advertising campaign to attract about 10,000 Facebook users to download the app. The researchers working in conjunction with the app developer systematically varied the attributes of the app to affect the kind of WOM these users could use to inveigle their network friends to download the app.

You see the Counting value of this approach. The researchers build a sample of app users, vary the attributes of the app to create an independent variable with different kinds of WOM, then collect the stream of user actions with the app in their network to see how many friends adopt the app and under what conditions. It’s a really nice controlled experiment in the natural setting with tons of data flowing out of it.

If you are crazy for data and those regression equations with Greek letters, get the paper and read it. This team is pretty smart and you could learn a lot of nuance. For this post, however, I want to detail the large scale findings. That where all my persuasion interest lies.

Exactly 9687 people responded to an advertising campaign about the movie app and downloaded it. That campaign cost $6,000 to execute. This is the group from which we can now study WOM and its effect on getting new app adopters from the larger social networks of the original group of 9687 app users. Now, read the following carefully.

The experiment was conducted over a 44-day period during which 9687 users adopted the application with 405 users randomly assigned to the baseline control group, 4600 users randomly assigned to the passive-broadcast treatment group, and 4682 users randomly assigned to the active-personalized treatment group. Users in these groups collectively had 1.4M distinct peers in their local social networks and sent a total of 70,140 viral messages to their peers, resulting in 992 peer adoptions – 682 of which were in direct response to viral messages.

See the key numbers. Nearly 10,000 users have 1.4 million Facebook friends (about 140 friends per user which is a common network size on Facebook). Those nearly 10,000 users sent 70,000 viral messages (the WOM, right?). That produced about 1,000 app adoptions. So, if you spend $6,000 dollars on this tactic, you’ll generate WOM that earns about 1,000 positive outcomes, about $6 per adoption.

Stated another way, $6,000 will buy access to a potential population of 1.4 million people in 10,000 social networks and get about 70,000 WOM actions that will result in about 1,000 good outcomes (downloading a free application on Facebook).

Everyone can draw their own implications from this basic finding. Downloading a free Facebook app is the TACT and that’s exactly what I consider WATtapping, that Low WATT social media twitching that requires little thought, effort, or value, but can still be collected and counted. Social Media like Facebook and Twitter are great twitch collector networks, but some people think that a twitch is more than a twitch and that if you combines the zillions of twitches you’ve got . . . something.

So, you’re running a health campaign to encourage people to drink water or juice rather than Full Strength Soda Pop. What kind of WOM behavior change do you think you’ll get with your Stop The Pop App on Facebook?

You’re a marketing exec with GM trying to shed that Government Motors moniker and get back in the Free Market again with more car sales, say like with that New New Thing, the Chevy Volt, the electric car that will save GM and revolutionize transportation as we know it. You create that Get A Jolt From Volt Facebook app and use this ad campaign tactic to get WOM. How many more Volts will you sell with Facebook WOM?

Hey, you’re running for re-election with Hope and Change 2.0, so you build that Hope And Change 2.0 Obama App and follow this research to unleash it on Facebook. How many votes do you get on Election Day with this kind of WOM?

It costs you $6,000 to build a group of 10,000 Facebook users so you can give away a free app to 1,000 people through WOM. You can have potential access to 1.4 million people in all those networks and get 1,000 hits from those 1.4 million for a success rate of 0.000714285714%.

I have trouble finding good news in this research for Facebook as a persuasion platform. I can see fabulous news in just the research itself. The researchers have some great data that permits interesting testing of communication and persuasion in social networks. Hubba-hubba! But getting the Other Guy to Change in real time in the real world with Facebook?

The best persuasion interpretation of this study is that I might get 10% more app users if I run an ad campaign on Facebook. Remember the ad campaign got 10,000 app downloads and then the WOM from that group got 1,000 of their friends. Of course, this same kind of effect occurs with any form of persuasion. Persuade a group to your TACT with face-to-face communication, with TV or radio, with church sermons; that group then spreads the word through WOM to others in their social networks. There’s nothing in these data to indicate that getting the TACT through Facebook produces more effective or efficient WOM compared to any other communication channel, device, vehicle, or medium. Thus, WOM can make a Small Windowpane difference . . . if you are doing an incredibly easy, thoughtless, and free TACT.

Facebook beguiles. Those huge networks. Those huge networks with well described individuals. Think about the kind of micro targeting of Other Guys you can do and still have all that peer influence, Word Of Mouth, social influence. Good grief the potential is staggering. But then you get into the operation of those social networks and you begin to realize that you are confusing the word for the thing, eating the digital menu. Facebook is a twitch collector and not a social network. People fool themselves when they think Facebook is a social network the same way those Lenten dinners in a church basement are a social network.

Researchers once made a distinction between face-to-face interactions, calling them social, and mediated interactions, calling them, mediated! The persuasion mavens and VC behind Web 2.0 artfully blurred that distinction and dropped the mediation. You do not have a social relationship with your friends, families, colleagues, and those others you cannot now remember, on Facebook. And, all the science we’ve got about social relationships does not apply with the faux connections Facebook builds.

There may be a persuasion science within Facebook and the computer mediated communication networks of Social Media. But, using everything we know about true social influence and even mass mediated influence simply does not work with Web 2.0. My gut feeling is that Social Media is a fabulous fiction for attracting venture capital and a few big IPO kills, but that there is no persuasion there. It requires something too close to the Queen of Tomorrow for gratification.

Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker. (2010). Creating Social Contagion Through Viral Product Design: A Randomized Trial of Peer Influence in Networks.

November 30, 2010

Management Science, Forthcoming

P.S. The central persuasion problem with Social Media is how people think while using Facebook. The information field with a Facebook page (as with virtually all Social Media) is crowded with many different WATTage switches, Arguments, and Cues. Worse still, people enter the page with a particular thinking goal that conflicts with all the available information tasks on the page – you can write or read. Your Father’s Oldsmobile media like broadcast TV carefully controlled the information field and tasks of viewers. Sure, the ads announced themselves so that you could run to the bathroom or simply ignore them, but when you’re spending 8 hours a day in front of this kind of processing field, the ad will eventually get to you. Facebook has no strong way of controlling the information or the viewer’s processing state. Social media are a persuasion car wreck.

On the Peripheral Route with Progressive Political Research

Many political and social issues are determined by the attitudes people hold about them. If you have a favorable attitude about the perils of global warming, for example, you are then more likely to favor policy interventions aimed at reducing global warming. If you have a favorable attitude toward a woman’s choice, then you are more likely to favor policies that support abortion or contraception. While this is certainly a noncontroversial observation, people still miss how basic persuasion processes apply in our understanding of these political and social attitudes.

Consider this six (!!!) experiment package that investigates people’s attitudes about a current hot button political issue, Income Inequality. Some people have more income or wealth while most others have less. These statistics from the research illustrate the issue.

“The richest 20% of people in the United States own 85% of all wealth in the country”; “Recent statistics show that between 1990 and 2010, the average worker’s salary has risen by less than 5%, whereas the average CEO’s salary has risen by 500%”

I’ll trust the researchers and assume these assertions are true and that they point to the variable called, Income Inequality. The more interesting question is now, what affects people’s attitudes toward Income Inequality. The researchers study this question with choice manipulations. Here are two.

Participants in the control condition were asked to list five things they did the previous morning (8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.), afternoon (12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.), evening (4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.), and night (8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.), whereas participants in the choice condition were asked to list five choices they made during the same four periods. Participants then rated how difficult it was for them to recall all of these actions, using a scale from 1 (extremely difficult) to 7 (extremely easy).

And, now the second.

All participants watched a 6-min video used to prime choice in prior research (Savani et al., 2010, Savani et al., 2011); the video showed a solitary actor engaging in mundane actions (e.g., opening mail, working on a computer, reading a magazine) in an apartment. Participants in the control condition were instructed to press a button whenever the actor touched an object, whereas participants in the choice condition were instructed to press a button whenever the actor made a choice.

The choice manipulation primes people to think about options, variety, possibilities, in other words, choices. After doing this manipulation, the researchers look at the key dependent variable, that attitude toward indicators of Income Inequality. Across the six experiments, the researchers consistently find that when people are primed with choice, they have more Positive attitudes towards Income Inequality, meaning they find those income or wealth differences between people to be more acceptable. And, the Windowpanes are consistently Medium effects, about 35/65. So, we’ve got true experiments with several variations and replications, and practically important effect sizes.

From this the researchers get a bit red in the face at straining over the negative political and social implications of this finding for the hopes and dreams of a progressive society. For example,

Believing that individuals are entitled to keep their wealth—that they do not have a responsibility to share a part of their wealth with society—accounted for the effects of a choice mind-set on attitudes toward redistributive policies. The studies reported here highlight a new area of research on how culturally valued concepts can play a profound role in shaping people’s attitudes toward various types of inequalities present in society.

And this.

A deeper understanding of the sources of people’s attitudes toward wealth inequality has the potential to help make policies addressing wealth inequality more palatable. Our research suggests that framing policies in terms of choice, or even incidentally highlighting the concept of choice in discussions about policies, might lead people to oppose policies that are in line with their ultimate ideals (Norton & Ariely, 2011). Long-term programs intended to lower high levels of wealth inequality might face substantial obstacles from both politicians and the general public if opponents frame discussions about the policies in terms of choice (cf. Porter, in press).

What any of this has to do with science, I cannot say unless all science is progressive and I did not get that memo. More importantly, past the politics of the researchers, all we’ve got here is an attitudes study, just like the thousands of attitude studies that comprise the persuasion literature. People evaluate the world with those ratings of like-dislike or favor-disfavor and on and on with the dimensions of preference. If you read the Persuasion Blog or Primer you know that there are a lot of theories to account for attitude variation. If you read this paper you find that such theories are notably lacking in this political persuasion research.

If you think just a moment, you realize that attitudes toward a variable these progressive researcher highly value, Income Inequality, are highly variable and easily manipulated. Just by giving people a choice manipulation you can move their attitudes to Medium effect sizes, practical, observable, changes that do not require the statistical machinations of a Tooth Fairy epidemiologist. Think theory and not politics.

Nothing about the experiments manipulated WATTage and the basic protocol required little effort or motivation to complete. We’re on the Peripheral Route here and the participants are just skipping along with Cues. Prime choice with those simple and easy manipulations and you activate, in a Ding-Donging fashion, related thoughts about personal responsibility, hard work, ambition, and on and on with the modern American Dream. There is no Long Conversation in the Head as participants think about Arguments related to Income Inequality. Just Ding-Dong between choice and equality. Any change you get here is less persistent, less resistant, and less predictive than the Central Route and you know that for all the participants in all six experiments within moments of completing the tasks, they probably couldn’t even remember the attitude scores they marked.

That’s what happens on the Peripheral Route. You Cue up immediate attitude change, even Medium to Large changes. If you’re smart you provide an easy, immediate behavior action (click here to make a $10 contribution!), but past the momentary change, there’s not much effect you can depend on.

We’ve seen the same kind of Peripheral Route associative Ding-Donging with global warming. You’ll recall this nice set of experiments that manipulated people’s attitudes on climate change merely by making the room hotter or colder. Sure enough, when it’s hot out there the people shout, Global Warming. But, when it’s cold in here the people shout, where’s the Global Warming.

All these studies demonstrate that you can manipulate Progressive Politics with the Peripheral Route. Whether it is Income Inequality or Global Warming, people really don’t care that much. If you’ll vary your attitude at a Medium effect size, that attitude is clearly not crucial to you. And, if it is, all the researchers demonstrated is that you can kill important attitude positions if only briefly.

Yet, this article sails in high impact Psychological Science with deep worries about civil society and just what the hell psych science can do to right the wrongs of all those 1% greedy bastards who are destroying the world with their greedy greed. You see the Sincerity and thus both the Bad Persuasion and the Worse Science. Realize that the researchers have merely and unknowingly run a Low WATT manipulation with a primed Cue to move for an instant a person’s attitude score. You cannot think that anything more than the score is what varied here and that the basic, fundamental, and practical attitude was not affected in the least with these experiments.

You also see here the beginnings of a new line of failed practical psychology as researchers misunderstand their own work then rush into political and policy wars with their sincere science. Hey, don’t let The People think about choice and individual responsibility when you’re talking about Income Inequality! Nudge them with a Collective prime instead! That’s the ticket for Heaven on Earth!

Soon the company that made the posters and buttons and handouts for Calorie Counts For Health Care Reform We Can Believe In will have a new customer with a new slogan Don’t Think About Choice Think About Something Else! And, it will have the same practical impact as all that bad persuasion based on bad science from the Lifestyle Drum and Bugle Corps. Zero. Zip. Zed.

What I also find interesting here is how Biased Processing operates with smart people. Researchers and reviewers and editors wear scientific blinders with Progressive Research. They think first with their hearts and make their head provide evidence that makes the pulse rate increase. Clearly, this article is a basic attitudes and persuasion study, yet nothing in the references cites any theory of attitude change, just a bunch of political feel-good homophily. Whether it is Income Inequality or Calorie Counts or Big Soda Pop or Global Warming or any issue near and dear to progressive politics, people who are trained and credentialed as scientists, check their method and their skepticism at the door and find only evidence that reassures their attitudes. Sure tax big cans of soda pop. Ban NASCAR from TV. Turn up the thermostat in Congress. Require calorie counts on fast food menus. It’s science-based persuasion! Of course, you have to ask who is persuading who?

Krishna Savani and Aneeta Rattan. (2012). A Choice Mind-Set Increases the Acceptance and Maintenance of Wealth Inequality Psychological Science, first published on June 14, 2012


P.S. This choice manipulation would be useful for progressive research politicians working on abortion! Just hit those stupid, hateful, dogmatic conservatives with choice primes and you’ve got a Constitutional Amendment!

Ernestine Tests the New New Thing

While completing a PB post on Gore Vidal, I immediately recalled the old Laugh-In sketch with Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the Telephone Operator calling Mr. Veedle (widely assumed at the time, 1969, to point to the infamous Mr. Vidal) to discuss his phone bill. It provided a nice close to that post, but it also stimulated an interesting tangential thought. Take three minutes to listen to the YouTube of Tomlin’s sketch.

Did you catch all those privacy violations of personal information? Tomlin as Ernestine menaces Mr. Veedle with facts from his banking and investment accounts as well as his 1965 IRS return! In other words, everyone joked in 1969 that the telephone company knew everything about you and would use that to secure the unpaid balance of $23.64 or else send a burly fellow to the house to collect.

It’s 1969 and we’re in the Summer of Love, the Beatles are together and making Abbey Road, Richard Nixon is President, we’re fighting overseas . . . in Viet Nam, GM is making Oldsmobile’s, Neil Armstrong is on the Moon, babes are wearing miniskirts and, can’t forget, everyone is smoking! Now. Flash forward 43 years and wonder about all that Big Data being collected on you from the Internet. If Big Marketing and Big Tech back were invading our privacy then, how much more privacy can they invade today?

But what about all that New New Thing today with Big Data and Big Analysis? Evil Marketing and Evil Technology had computers, databases, and stat routines back then, too.

Think about it. The New New Thing is just the Old Old Thing except no one nowadays wears paisley bell bottoms, smokes Camels, or shows a lot of leg at the office.

Get Back. Get Back to where you once belonged.

Facebook Counts through the Windowpane

Here’s yet another pop press article about Facebook and its efforts to demonstrate the persuasion effectiveness of the platform. Let me summarize.

What with this and that and one thing and the other continue to explore and elaborate on nuances and unique identity. Yada-yada-yada.

What you never hear from anyone proving Facebook’s persuasion is a simple A-B testing result. Good grief, everyone can track ad exposures and sales by the minute, so there’s tons of data to test varying combinations of Facebook ads (on or off) with other ad elements. While not necessarily experimental with random selection and assignment, given a wide range of A-B tests over a few months, Medium to Large Windowpane effects will definitely emerge while Small effects would remain elusive. This is so easy it is stupid.

Yet, you do not find simple clear Windowpanes on Facebook that look like this.

You know why?

Because Facebook has run this analysis and the Windowpane looks like this.

Of course I’m wrong. And Facebook has the private data to prove it.

Facebook’s Mr. Smallwood also ran a series of test ad campaigns with advertisers between last October and this January based on the methodologies they were learning from each other. By April, Mr. Smallwood had conducted 63 such campaigns. Later in the year, at another Facebook meeting with its Client Council in New York, Mr. Smallwood displayed a chart to the gathered executives. Out of all 63 test ad campaigns, only one campaign had a less than one times return on its investment. The majority showed a return on ad spending of three times or better.

Wow! Take that, Steve, and your dippy little Windowpane. Now, consider this.

Some marketing executives remain skeptical. “I won’t tell you that I buy the [Facebook] results 100%, but I accept the results 90%,” said Jack Klues, CEO of Vivaki, a digital-advertising firm owned by Publicis Groupe. “I’m cautious on how literally to interpret” the new data.

Anyone who publicly talks like Jack Klues is telling you what I told you: Facebook doesn’t have the Windowpane, the simple 2 X 2 of Treatment (yes or no) by Outcome (yes or no). They’ve got logit regression and principle components factor analysis and adjusted residual analysis and yada-yada-yada.

Persuasion is always Windowpane simple. Always. And when someone comes selling persuasion without a simple Windowpane, keep your head on a swivel and your hand on your wallet.

Right now Facebook is still getting the benefit of Dissonance Reduction. People who bought into Facebook either by buying the stock or running persuasion through it put themselves on the Dissonance Path because their deliberate purchase and persuasion actions led to foreseeable aversive consequences. They are getting burned as a result of their choices and that makes them victims of the Principle of Loving That For Which You Suffer, also known as Dissonance Reduction.

For awhile folks will continue to love their suffering if only to relieve the Dissonance caused by the initial choice and all the aversive consequences. That will end someday. Eventually only loyalists and idiots remain in the fire.

P.S. I remain flabbergasted that Facebook doesn’t generate spectacular persuasion. The kind of targeting and tailoring you can do in real time makes the platform a natural persuasion engine and yet hard core guys like Jack Klues are still skeptical. This is either a Queen of Tomorrow play hiding FB effectiveness in all these elaborate kabuki shows of no effect or else the folks at FB are still persuasion muggles. I told you. All the persuasion experts got out in the secondary market or during the IPO. They knew that Facebook was good for selling and not for persuading.

Twittering at Historic NBC TACTs

You’ll recall the terrible job NBC did with the Olympics. Twitterati created the #nbcfail hashtag and let the network know exactly how lousy they found the coverage and scheduling. And, that loud and negative feedback persisted throughout the Olympics. Twitter put a hating on NBC, so imagine how bad NBC must have done in the ratings.

The XXX Summer Games has hit TV Gold. With 219.4 million viewers NBC’s broadcast of the 2012 Olympics has become the most-watched event in U.S. TV history.

Not that Twitter cares.

But fans were unimpressed with NBC’s rationale. “In this day and age, no livestream for the Olympics opening ceremony?” asked @jjwright on Twitter in a gripe typical of those being heard on Friday afternoon. “You just can’t handle situations right, can you #NBC? Curry, now this . . .” Jeff Jarvis, a magazine editor turned social-media apostle, compared NBC’s coverage unfavorably with that of the BBC and argued that the network was failing to accommodate the Twitter age. “The problem for NBC as for other media,” he wrote, “is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality.”

Old business in a new reality. That’s an interesting observation. NBC apparently did better at making money on covering the Olympics yet the Twitterati are unimpressed. And a media critic agrees with the media mob.

While NBC is still in the old business, it is trying to manage the transition to the New New Thing and seems to have done well here by any reasonable persuasion standard. They got a lot of Other Guys to tune in during prime-time TV where they big ad bucks can be made.

You see an interesting persuasion tension here. Sure, Twitter and the Internet is the new media world, but as we’ve seen repeatedly on the Persuasion Blog, it’s difficult to make money on or with the New New Thing compared to Your Father’s Oldsmobile. A few venture capitalists made their killing by selling Web 2.0 through IPOs then getting the hell out of the game while everyone else is buying the stock all the way down. No one is doing great persuasion and making fame, fortune, or film at 11 with Facebook or Twitter as their vehicle.

In other words, while Web 2.0 is easy, fun, and popular, you can’t easily Count the Change. Sure, you’ve got millions and millions of people tweeting and liking every instant, but as I’ve noted before, that’s just WATtapping, not Changing. We’ve now got several years of Social Media under our belts and beyond all the yammering from zealots about This Changes Everything, what has changed? TV still dominates as the medium of choice for persuasion, particularly for advertising and campaigning. If you want to Change the World, you don’t do it with Twitter or Facebook.

Realize my narrow point. I’m not saying that Social Media don’t do anything. They are businesses doing their business which is making money for their owners. But, Social Media as any kind of persuasive force or tool is exactly like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there’s not much there, there.

See how all that negative sentiment on Twitter towards NBC appears to have had little impact on the TACTs NBC sought from all the Other Guys. There’s a disconnect between the alleged persuasion power of Twitter and the proven persuasion power of television. Supposedly Twitter harnesses the Wisdom of the Crowd which means collectively Twitter is smarter at persuasion (or anything for that matter) than the individuals who run NBC. Man, think how much better the ratings would have been if the Twitterati ran televised Olympic coverage!

Of course, if you think like that you are a fool who has no skin in the game, but is merely coaching from stands. The guys running Twitter are smart enough to cash in on the stupendous WATtap vanity of people who think 140 characters is enough to run the world. They’re making Jack Dorsey rich.

But changing anything?

Persuading Magic

Consider a persuasion case study of a book about magic. Begin with Alex Stone and his book, Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind. Published on June 12, 2012 it is doing well on Amazon as of June 26, 2012. It ranks in the top 500 of all Amazon titles and at the top of various special categories. The reviews are extremely positive. And Amazon has designated it as a Best Book of June 2012. Pretty tall cotton. Stone has the credential and the expertise.

Alex Stone has written for Harper’s, Discover, Science, and the Wall Street Journal. He graduated from Harvard University and has a master’s degree in physics from Columbia University. He grew up in Wisconsin, Texas, and Spain. He currently lives in New York City.

Past the professionalism, consider the personal.

When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit—a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, while living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation and populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world’s greatest card cheats, who also happens to be blind. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious world, eventually competing at the Magic Olympics and training with great magicians around the globe to perfect his craft.

A master of the art reveals the magic behind the magic with his mastery of the science. Ta-da!

So. Now consider a public expert’s evaluation of Stone’s magic.

“Fooling Houdini” is an ostensibly self-effacing memoir by an inept amateur conjurer. Alex Stone’s quest to become a master magician, however, does not bring him nearly as close to that goal as he imagines. Instead, he skirts the borders of popular genres of memoir, producing a tale that, had it verisimilitude, might appeal in the universal tradition of triumph over formidable odds. Instead it shares genetic material with narratives in which that triumph is markedly exaggerated.

This from Ricky Jay, a proven and recognized master of public magic with a long career behind him. Jay knows Jack Kennedy and magic.

So a Master of Amazon Magic is revealed as a Man Behind The Curtain by a Master of Magic. Jay breaks Stone on the rock of reality even though the reality here is magic. Yet Stone is winning the Amazon wars with fabulous reviews and great sales. Ricky Jay claims that Alex Stone doesn’t know Jack, yet many people are on Stone’s bandwagon.

You don’t need to be a magician to sell a book on magic. You just need persuasion!