Manipulating User Behavior: Hot Triggers & Human Psyche

Posted in SES San Francisco, Social Media

Welcome back to Day 2 of #SESSF! For some, the morning kicked off with a swank hotel breakfast; some began with a Venti Mocha Frappuccino; others still were groggily clawing at Andy Beal as he walked up and down aisles doling out mini packets of asprin. But no matter what chow you consumed at the start of the day, if you were an attendee at #SESSF, your AM brain-chow was B.J. Fogg’s inspiring morning keynote,  “Hot Triggers: The Power to Change Behavior.”

Fogg, a techie-psychologist hybrid is well known for his theory on “captology,” a term he created to describe the relationship between persuasion and computers. He explored this theory throughout the keynote, leveraging case studies from Stanford, hilarious homemade short videos (featuring Playmobil men), and bare-all bathroom confessionals complete with snapshots, none of which you’ll find here  (hey, you have to go to the keynote for goods like that!). What you will find here, if you read on, is an archive & extrapolation of aimClear’s live-tweets of the endearing, insightful keynote Fogg animatedly fed audience members.

What Is A Trigger?
A “trigger” is just another word  for prompt, call to action, cue, offer, request -triggers used to be issued by brands. But now, they are socially mediated, coming from friends, people we know. Common example of a “modern day trigger” — notifications on Facebook. You log in and see someone commented on your status, or tagged you in a photo- these notifications trigger you to act. They also pull you away from work and distract you.

The key is to put hot triggers in the path of motivated people. This is  Fogg’s design mantra. (Those 9 words are some of the most powerful words marketers can use to design experiences for users.) Now, thanks to social media, there are new ways of executing, sharing and measuring motivated hot triggers. If you want to put Fogg’s mantra another way: Put flashy lures in the path of hungry fish… or… put bananas in the path of hungry chimps.

There continue to be more and more technology capable of delivering these triggers, and measuring them. Again, Facebook is a leading trigger. In so many words, Fogg broke the news to us: Whether you like it or not… Facebook is the #1 persuasive technology of all time.”

Hot Triggers via Facebook
At Stanford, Fogg taught a class on FB apps with an emphasis on designing them and getting apps in the world, getting people to engage. He had his students create an app.  By the end of the semester, their apps had 16 million installations. Holy moley.

Hot Triggers via Twitter
Twitter wasn’t initially about sharing links and hot triggers, but for many, that’s what it’s become- a platform for sharing resources, distractions, etc.

Hot Triggers via email
Perhaps the granddaddy of all technology for putting triggers in the path of motivated people! Anchor text in emails is a super “in-yo-face” CALL TO ACTION. Think of direct email marketing from big brands – this technology is not dead, but perhaps less engaging and slightly more spammy on the surface. (Also, beware… the dreaded FWDs… this type of email may make one less motivated to respond or engage.)

The Difference Between Triggers in Search & Social
Search is interesting when it comes to putting triggers in people’s paths – it’s different from social, different from FB. Why? People on social sites are there to be distracted. People in search are on a quest – on a path from point A to point B. Therefore, certain platforms are ideal for distraction (more social ones)– more prime for trigger implementation. If you take someone in search off their track, they will get grumpy.

Today’s Tech Dramas
Big players like Google, Apple, Zynga, Facebook etc… there’s a constant debate about who control the hot triggers .

Cycle of Tech Dramas
  • Who controls the platform issues the triggers
  • Who controls the triggers controls behavior
  • Who controls behavior creates new platforms

As Fogg days, “Yesterday’s platforms lead to new rituals and new platforms.”

Pop Quiz!
Q: Texting allowed a new trigger to a new behavoir, and a new platform. What was the platform?
A: Twitter.

Q: Email started being used in new ways. What platform did it inspire?
A: Facebook.
If new platforms are successful, they create new behavior. If the behavior is successful, it will create new triggers. The cycle continues. (Side note: you can check out Fogg’s projects at Stanford Labs, facebook.com/captology.) Though new platforms, behaviors and triggers are constantly being created, the good news is… humans are (fairly) predictable. Contexts makes us seem complicated, but deep down, we’re mostly the same.

Human Core Motivators
  • pleasure & pain
  • hope & fear
  • social acceptance & social rejection

Which is more powerful- the “positive” or the “negative” – which emotion will cause us to react? It all depends on the context.
Key point: When you are going to motivate people , use the lightest touch possible, so long as it works. Resist over-motivating. Often enough, motivation already exists. Focus on facilitation & triggering.

The Scientific Behavior Formula
B=mat –> Behavior = motivation x ability x trigger

All three, motivation, ability and trigger, have to exist. Behavoir = the product of all three. Think simple mathematics – if one element isn’t there (if one value = zero) the formula = 0, aka, doesn’t work.

Key point: You can increase ability by simplifying, not by training. Training does not work. Just make the behavior simple- make it so easy people literally can’t even move forward without doing what you want them to do.

The 6 Factors of Simplicity
  • time
  • money
  • physical effort
  • brain cycles
  • social deviance
  • non-routine
Each person has different resources – these elements are wholly depend upon the person & context.

Key point: technology always changes – human psychology always stays the same.

Wrapping up…
  • Cold triggers = calls to actions you can’t do right now.
    • A billboard is a cold trigger.
  • Hot triggers = calls to action you can do right now.
    • A sign that says “EAT HERE NOW” is a hot trigger.
    • Hot triggers have the power to change behavior.

So, how about it? Do you have your finger on the hot trigger when it comes to reaching your audience?