Facebook: top prize for persuasion

profile-picture-question-mark.jpg   BJ Fogg investigates the miracle of persuasive technology that is Facebook (Captology Notebook, 17 September 2007). How does Facebook persuade almost 100% of members to post a photo of themselves — which, as he points out, is not a simple procedure?

The demanding question mark that begs you to replace it. The loneliness of no-face in a crowd of faces. The pressure of your friends. Your eagerness to get on with the real business, to achieve your own goals.

This is the first of three posts by BJ Fogg on the psychology of Facebook. Maybe next he will talk about the power of the face.

1 comment

Aug 05, 2008 • Posted by david bowman

I’d give more credit to primate social norms than anything that has to do with user interfaces or technology or marketing. Facebook is simply exploting the deep insecurity and fear of being ostracized that is felt by all humans.

People are on Facebook for one of three reasons:

- to get laid
- to make friends
- business/professional networking

All three of those revolve around looking good. After all, who wants to be friends with, make a deal with, co-author a book with, or sleep with someone who is shockingly unattractive?

Furthermore, if you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist. Really unattractive people are highly unlikely to join social networking websites, because the pressure to reveal your physical self — to replace that gray question mark with a carefully-cropped and earnestly-Photoshopped glamour shot of yourself. Ugly people can’t pull it off. If they DO join the site, they try to network with people who look better than they do. If that doesn’t work, they settle for networking with people who are uglier than they are, which reassures them that they are at least moderately attractive.

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