People Read What They Want to

Not only do people select channels that appeal to them, but we all tend to read content with a bias that reinforces our worldview.

Stories mutate as they spread, and they typically mutate with a self interested bias. In response to voting for the blogging scholarship some people have stated self biased / inaccurate things like:

  • x has one of the few real academic blogs, which is what this scholarship is supposed to be for anyhow

  • why are there tech blogs on there, I thought this was only for science bloggers
  • help me win $20,000

When I pushed the blogging scholarship on Digg it was flagged for spam when it reached the homepage. When voting opened someone else submitted it to the wrong category, pushed it, and it made Digg's homepage. If a story was spam once then why was it remarkable and homepage worthy only a couple days later? People see what they want to see.

In some cases it may make sense to leave your messages vague such that they can be more applicable to a wider audience. In other cases it may make sense to be as specific as possible to control the messaging. Story mutation is also going to largley depend on where a story is seeded.

I think if it is generally related to your main brand you want to be specific, but if what you are doing is a one off or occasional marketing event it might make more sense to let people misinterpret it to help the story spread and help them tell you what they really wanted, such that you can refine it going forward. A lack of mutation and a lack of spreading are indications of bad marketing.

Published: November 2, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


November 2, 2006 - 5:33pm

Speaking of mis-interpretation of marketing, have you seen that new ad for the PS3? It's basically the creepiest plastic baby imaginable in an alien room with a PS3. I've had nightmares watching it ever since. it doesn't make me want to buy a PS3, but I've also told a fair number of people about it, so I'm still trying it figure out if it was good or bad marketing.

November 6, 2006 - 8:36am

Are you really surprised by how people interpret things? We all filter every bit of information we receive through the combined information and understanding of everything in our lives. Given that most people will see and interpret things diffently.

And let's face it most people never get to a point where they can see anything beyond themselves so is it any wonder they would interpret things in a self biased way. It's easy to find justification for any point of view if you want to.

The Digg thing is easily explainable too. You're Aaron Wall the famous SEO. If you Digg something it must be an effort to maipulate something since that's what SEOs do after all. Someone else though does it and it's clearly done honestly.

Not my point of view mind you, but I can see where someone else would make such a superficial judgement.

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