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It’s a fun subject. No, not Social Media, but actually the impact a well crafted message can have on us. A lot has been said about Propaganda, as well as subliminal advertising or messages a few companies have used to attract consumers, or voters. Yes, I said it! Voters too! Sometimes it’s not even subliminal, it’s there in plain sight but placed in such a subtle way that you get it without really seeing it. There are many definitions around this but the main principle would be something like this:

“Show it so quickly that your eyes won’t see it but your mind will get it” or “what your mind perceives and your eyes don’t see”

Here is a nice definition by Phillip Merikle, professor and researcher of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo that explains it quite well.

Now, what do I mean with quickly? Visually, that’s easy to understand because you can sense speed through your eyes, as well as other senses. Again, a lot was said and explained about our visual threshold (meaning how we perceive movement) so I’ll just share a few numbers with you in case you’ve never read or heard of them. Before that, an important definition. We’ll be discussing, just to prove the point, Frame Rate, which is actually also known as frame frequency and frames per second (FPS). It is the frequency (rate) at which an imaging device produces unique consecutive images called frames, and this applies mostly to cameras as you probably figured. So, having said that:

.- The standard frame for videos or movies is 24 FPS (frames per second)
.- The concept of “moving pictures” relies on persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement in a series of images projected at 23 to 30 frames per second, hence the 24 FPS makes perfect sense.
.- What this means is that you can not shoot movement in 1 frame, barely a frozen image. You need to put 24 of those in a sequence to create movement.
.- You don’t need to create movement for your mind to capture a single frame. You only need that if you want your eyes to see it. Get it? 1 frame, you get it, you don’t see it. 24 frames, magic, it’s there.

The popular theory of subliminal messages usually suggests that subliminal commands can be inserted into this sequence at the rate of perhaps 1 frame in 25 (or roughly 1 frame per second). The hidden command in a single frame will flash across the screen so quickly that it is not consciously perceived, but the command will supposedly appeal to the subconscious mind of the viewer, and thus have some measurable effect in terms of behavior.

There are lots of text books and website about this which you can happily browse. Just type “subliminal advertising” in your favorite search engine and you’ll see.

You may wonder why I’m using this as a opening subject about Social Media and why did I take that long. Well, as Darth Vader once said: “You underestimate the full power of the dark side if you’re not using Social Media properly”. Ok, the last part was me, but again, a well crafted message gets your attention. After all, that big picture of him up there caught your attention, and until now you were wondering why I had used it, most probably subconsciously.

This is actually another post about Social Media, mostly because I myself am learning a lot about it lately. One of my recent “discoveries” is that most people, even companies don’t use the Full Power of Social Media! They just tweet, post, comment, like, re-tweet, re-post, re-like and so forth. Content is crafted just once, and then repeated, re-signified constantly until it becomes irrelevant….unless you really really really crafted it well enough for the message to be persistent even after infinite re-utilization. That is what a subliminal message carries: meaning beyond it’s vehicle. 

You see, back in the days when Nazis were fighting Captain America and Movies and TV were THE media out there, everything depended on the vehicle so lots of money were poured into refining montage techniques. Do you know that “Films” got their name from their media? The actual “film” where movies were imprinted. Well, that film (yes, the brown long one that was stored in those fantastic round and flat cans) was the actual vehicle of audiovisual messages some 60-70 years ago. Editing it was a craft so delicate that those who mastered it where actually called Master Editors. These professionals could isolate one single frame, cut-it out of the long strip of film (as in with a pair of scissors) and insert a new one. Experiments were conducted, films with 1 frame every 23 or 24 would be shown to audiences for 1 hour, 2 hours and such and afterwards the effects measured. Frames such as a white background and the word “THIRSTY” printed in big capitals. People would not see it but perceive it…and after repeating that single frame between 23-24 other ones for over an hour, well, people would want a drink.

Estrategia-social-mediaSocial Media is different though. The vehicle is lighter but more important than that: users have learnt how to manipulate the vehicle. Privacy became the new shield for users to decide what to see and who to share information with so apps can’t grab their information, and your precious targeted campaign might never reach them. If you didn’t know this…you better start reading about it.


If you had to say how well you use Social Media, what would you say? How much of the content your community managers actually produce from scratch or re-use? Do you have mixed channels (as in video, images, texts, apps, etc.)? Is there a strategy behind your use of Social Media?

Here is a very interesting presentation / slide deck, courtesy of the Harvard Business Review with some figures that will impress you, I guarantee it. After you see this you may want to gather your community management / social media teams and have a talk with them. Maybe even pull Marketing in as well.

Oh, and there’s a white paper too, just click here to open it!

Social Media still intrigues me and I’m barely taking my first steps into it’s world. What about you?


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