Legos, Tinker Toys and Facebook’s ‘Emotional Contagion’

Don E. Schultz
Marketing News
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Don E. Schultz; Marketing News; Marketing Management; American Marketing Association; Facebook’s ‘Emotional Contagion’
Key Takeaways
  • Marketing and marketing communication are not so much block-like Legos as they are the creative combinations that come from Tinker Toys, as evidenced by Facebook's recent research.
  • In essence, what the Facebook research shows is that emotional states can be transferred through networks of people. If you add positive words and terms, people respond positively. With negative terms, the reaction is the opposite.
  • The Facebook stuff isn’t linear and it can’t be counted or measured, or stacked or inventoried. Yet, increasingly, it’s clear that it’s there, and that it can be identified and measured—perhaps not in a connected Lego way but in a networked, multidimensional, higher-order manner that Tinker Toy approaches provide.

Modern management approaches have taught us to think in linear terms, from here to there. How high up? How far down? How does that work? Who is she? What is he doing? Miles and yards and feet and inches. Separate, individual, unique. Good and bad. If one thing is connected to another, it’s done in a straight line, the shortest distance between the two points. It’s the world that management gurus have created for us and the rules by which we play. 

That linear, absolutist, rational and logical thinking has been transferred to much of our marketing and communication thinking, our research and the applications that we develop. While we like to think that we’re scientists or researchers, today it seems that we’re more geometricians than scientists. We work in lines and angles and totals, profits and losses and scores, and counting and investments and returns, and on and on. It’s linear and easily connected, and therefore easily explained or at least easily quantified. Count them up, put them in a pile, number the piles and there you have a market, or what we call a market: a group of people whom we have gathered together because they have some common denominator such as age, sex, geography, ability to procreate, years of school and so on. ​​

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Author Bio:
Don E. Schultz
Don E. Schultz is a professor (emeritus-in-service) of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

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