Listen to the persuasive music coming from Facebook.
The company announced a plan on Tuesday morning to encourage everyone on Facebook to start advertising their donor status on their pages, along with their birth dates and schools — a move that it hopes will create peer pressure to nudge more people to add their names to the rolls of registered organ donors.
Hope with Nudge? That’s a persuasion plan?
It is a rare foray by Facebook into social engineering from social networking, and one with a potentially profound effect, according to experts in the field of organ donation.
Potentially? Profound? What experts?
BJ Fogg, who studies how technology can change attitudes as director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, said the prominence of organ donation on the Facebook site “will trigger people to make an important decision about whether to be an organ donor, a decision most people in the last year haven’t even considered.” Dr. Fogg added: “If you see all your friends do it, or have the illusion all your friends are doing it, it sets up an expectation of sorts and it may become a social norm.”
Facebook with 160 million American account holders. Organ donor as part of the status line. Nudges. Social Norms. Important decision making. How can it miss?
Easy. Spot the McGuffin.
Previous efforts to encourage organ donation have struggled, Dr. Cameron said, because the issue is sensitive and personal and because the decision is made at the motor vehicle department, where many people may not want to focus on the prospect of dying.
Did you see it? People can only do the TACT at the DMV when they get their driver’s license. Thus, all the Facebook Nudge Social Norm Trigger Important Decision stuff occurs away from the only time and place the Other Guy can do the TACT. And, worse still, people rarely go to the DMV, once every few years. Yet, somehow Experts believe that Facebook will create such powerful change that people will remember it over the course of several years and then when standing in line at the DMV, cursing the slowness, cursing the bureaucracy, just plain cursing, they will certainly remember all that Facebooking and check the Organ Donor box.
And these folks are Experts?
There is no, none, zip, zed, nada proven persuasion that works like this. It is a Queen of Tomorrow play. If indeed anyone could deliver persuasive messages that triggered an explicit TACT in one place at one time three years in the future, she could control the world. The hypothesis is stupid in itself. But, let me pile on.
Why would you clown around with this Facebook FauxItAllery when we’ve got scientific evidence of something that works killer good. Remember Tyler Harrison and Susan Morgan? Of course, you don’t because you are a Facebook Expert. Go reread this post on their research with organ donation.
They produced a 1900% increase, yes, a 1900% increase, in organ donation with a small media and point of TACT persuasion campaign. Real people. Real time. Real DMV. If Facebook Experts wanted to address the problem of getting more organ donors they would call Susan Morgan or Tyler Harrison and LISTEN TO THEM.
But, they didn’t, which tells you that they are not serious about the stated TACT and given that Facebook is aiming at an IPO in a couple of weeks, you might think a little deeper about this. Like the Ad Council and Clear Channel this is a fabulous self promotion play even without Ashton Kutcher. The Facebook play will have no impact on organ donor rates or even organ donor signups, but it sure makes Facebook look good. Concerned. Caring. Thoughtful.
And, don’t overlook the self persuasion effects here, too.
Dr. Cameron played a role in the change at Facebook. A 1991 graduate of Harvard University, he had written about his transplant efforts — and the struggles to find donors — for a class reunion booklet. That was read by a former classmate and friend, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook. At a reunion last May, Dr. Cameron recalled standing at a mixer when Ms. Sandberg told him that she had read about his efforts and had been thinking about the struggle to get more organ donors. “She said: ‘I think we can fix that,’ ” Dr. Cameron recalled. “It was a chills-up-the-spine moment.”
Veritas smeritas. The reunion notebook of Harvard connects old school chums who know the handshake and at a party over crimson and canapés, two power brokers unite to the save the world. That should send chills up your spine because it shows the vapid world of Experts. Whatever it took for Cameron and Sandberg to achieve their status, it clearly did not include a working knowledge of persuasion. Hey, I’m a world class surgeon. Hey, I’m a world class COO. Of course we’re persuasion Experts. How can we not be?
Does anyone believe you will see a fair evaluation report out of Facebook on this? My guess is that in a year or two you’ll see some little nugget that counts Organ Donor Status change on Facebook as the indication of campaign effect. As if what people write on Facebook is the truth. Doing the grubby work of tying exposure to Facebook messages to actual DMV records costs time and money and if Facebook engineers can’t write a PHP script for it, it’s not Science. Look for more Big Data with lots of Relative Ratios. But, you’ll find thousands of people dying while waiting for a transplant.
Still, mavens, you gotta give credit where credit may be due. If indeed this is all about IPOs and self persuasion, then the Facebook Organist is playing sweet persuasive music.
Potentially Profound Effect with Hope and a Nudge.
P.S. If you can find the angle, you can make a killing on Facebook, but not with their stock or their persuasion. They are vulnerable the way all hunters are when focused upon their prey. Facebook is looking to make its killing leaving them ripe for the taking. Think about it.