Social Engineering Marketing

I’m starting to think that we are entering a world where marketers will have to make one of two choices as the Web makes its final infiltration into our lives:

  • Committing to clear, honest transactions which build on the results of word-of-mouth generated by the quality of the products or services being marketed
  • Committing to socially engineered transactions, with a focus on using psychology, sociology, behavioral economics and other ingredients required for the manipulation of publics (Socialganda)

There may be a combinations of both in between these extremes, but I suspect – if I’m right about this – that the distribution curve will be narrow at the middle and wide on the extremes.

Now, here’s the thing: both approaches can work.

You can create wonderful services, have a community of fans and gently foster the community to keep the wheel of your business turning.

You can also develop strategies and tactics of human manipulation which steer people where you want them to go.

If I were Edward Bernay’s I would be salivating at social media and digital technologies. I’d exploit the psychology of the flattering retweet. I’d exploit the psychology of being Liked all the time. I’d exploit the psychology of the addictive branded social game.

The first gives us hope for a better world, while the second implies a world of fewer free minds and more powerful oligarchs.

Prediction: We will see both, but the second will come to dominate over time.

What world are we creating with social media really? Is it a healthy one? For all tyrannies are born of civilizations that make unhealthy choices.

History does not repeat itself. History is more exciting and nuanced than Groundhog Day. Rather, what’s coming our way are mutated variations of ancient themes.

People simply do what’s closest to their nature. They always have, they always will.

Democracy is the human assent against natural chaos, and the ideas which fuel its onward voyage demand remarkable propagation.

Ultimately, Democracy, then, depends on good marketing.

There are enough good people in this world to make good things.

There are enough bad people in this world to make bad things.

What’s uncertain is the number of people in between.

It’s the people in between who determine the course of civilization.

Who, and where, are you?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial




0 Replies to “Social Engineering Marketing”

  1. This is brilliant, my thinking previously has been that the participants of social media are inherently decent human beings and that they will reject poor and biased material but you are right that these new ‘endorsements’ are open to misuse.

    Some will cover themselves in glory in this new world but some will be exposed for underhand tactics (we hope!).

    1. Right – I can see how two directions could emerge.

      I think now, might be a good time to re-exame the history of marketing and
      public relations since the Industrial Revolution. Many of the things we take
      utterly for granted didn’t exist until recently. A better understanding of
      how marketing and public relations evolved over the technological conditions
      of the times, may help us to see better where things are going.

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