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The Facebook Experiment: Can Emotions Be Manipulated?


Discuss About The Creating Marketing Magic Innovative Future?

In 2014, there has been a facebook experiment. In the experiment, the contents in the news feeds of the users were used to evaluate the changes in the emotions of the users. News Feeds of almost 700,000 users were accessed to show the company the number of positive or negative posts posted by the users on the particular product or service. The aim of that project was to determine whether it was possible for the company to change the emotional state of the users. The research also had the objective to determine whether more positive or negative posts in the newsfeed page of Facebook impacted the users in updating their own pages. It was found from the research that the users who were shown more negative comments have posted negative comments in their page and those who were shown more positive comments have posted positive comments in their page. This process was questioned to a great extent on ethical ground and poor research design.

Another social networking site XYZ got inspiration from this research conducted by facebook and also wants to study whether they can alter the emotional state of their users. Since the research conducted by facebook previously failed, so they wanted to do this research following the research ethics and also by using a better research design. They are interested to use the digital scent technology unlike facebook, that is, XYZ wanted to determine whether different types of smell impacted users to update their page. Thus, based on the needs of the social networking company the following research has been conducted.

This research focuses upon how various products like grocery products, luxurious perfumes, home accessories, bakery products stores encourages and creates an impulse on the consumers to increase its sales for the above stated products. Scent marketing is a concept in which the adequate atmosphere filled a unique smell triggering the senses like listening good music will create an impulse in the consumer to experience a music store (Henshaw, 2013). A distinct smell of caffeine in the Starbucks combined with fresh smell of baked food and soft music will attract the customers to taste different flavours of coffee. A cosmetic shop in the retail chain store with a flavoured and fruity smell of various crèmes, body lotions and makeup wears may catch the consumer’s senses affecting the brain in such a way that it deeply impacts the thoughts processed both emotionally and through intelligence. It creates a delightful memory which creates an urge and the consumer wants to indulge into experiencing that product to get satisfaction.

This research is a collective summary of the existing theories and published interpretation of a particular topic. The aim is to find ways for XYZ social networking to influence the users emotionally with the help of scent marketing. This would further identify the ways in which users update their news feed pages and get emotionally involved with a particular brand. This involvement could be both in negative and positive ways(Alderson, 2017). Secondary research is synthesizing and interpreting the existing researches already been carried out so that better comparison between various understandings given by writers can be done and results can be revealed. The XYZ networking needs to be responsible towards the perceived reactions of the individuals of any activity or comment posted by them for promotion.

According to ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Berkhout (2015), the various combinations of smells when described in the form of images like baby powder images showing that it has a soothing distinct smell with depicting it with flower images will influence the mother users to create an impression about how it is touse baby products. The site XYZ, in order to create an impulse on the users should use pictures which compliment the products and give a real experience in forming a perception to the user about the product. In this way, it will alter the emotions in the right direction both for the user and company by increasing its sales and brand image. On the other side, XYZ networking would also gain a competitive edge over other networking sites and it will gain popularity by not being criticized for any disrespectful tampering of user’s emotions. In addition the users will comment and give positive reviews (Berkhout, 2015).

In support of this, ­­­­­­­­Alderson (2017),states that scent technology is used as a tactic for marketing company’s product. The consumer is persuaded and induced with an impulse visually too just similar to smelling a particular aroma. For e.g. a graphic of Cadbury melted chocolate accompanied with a perfume product would give the user a sensation in which it can imagine the real experience just by seeing the graphic. XYZ as a networking site may alter the user’s emotions by commenting upon the company’s graphic using words which arouse the seductive emotions of the users. This will give the users an idea about the aroma just by reading the description of the comments used for promoting a product. In relation to this, there are other readers also getting influenced who are friends of the users. This engages many readers unfamiliar with the product to get acquainted with the help of reading just the replies of the users.This too can be explained with the help of an example of promoting a new car by XYZ networking through an image and description which definesthat the car is new. The image could be of a car perfume from Scent Air with a description “Fresh fragrance eliminator” which helps the user and reader friends to form a picture of the smell in its mind and further visualize that the car is brand new. The impact of this would be usersgetting positively influenced which will further strengthen XYZ network and Car’s sales (Alderson, 2017).

Scent Marketing: Creating an Impulse on Consumers

The main aim of this research is to identify the ways in which the social networking company XYZ can conduct this research to test the impact of the scent technology on the behavioral sensibilities in a psychological manner. This impact is created to influence the user’s emotions keeping in mind the ethical standards to avoid any negative consequences in terms of integrity, privacy and confidentiality (Georges, Tourtoulou, and Badoc, 2013).Thus, the main research question which will be of interest is given as follows:

  • What are the impacts of different types of smell through Digital Scent Technology on how users update their own XYZ page?

Research methodology focuses on identifying techniques to address the research problem. Various methods are applied to explore the current questions and issues which are needed to be answered to reach to the solution of the main problem of the research program (Bradford and Cullen, 2013).

The research design that has been used here is applied research. This type of research is practiced widely. Some theories and knowledge can also be tested to support a specific purpose. Apart from applied research methods, a lot of other research methods can be used for appropriate purposes. These methods include, exploratory research, explanatory research and descriptive research (Edmonds and Kennedy, 2016). This report will be made using the appropriate quantitative research methods.

Qualitative research approach will be pursued in this research. The qualitative research approach signifies identical and unique insights and also identifies the reasons behind these insights. This approach is used because our research question deals with emotional problems and alteration of feelings which are completely based on perceptions. It is not possible to estimate the extent to which emotions are hurt or delighted. The research would be supported by various ideas and literatures which best address the issues of concern in the report (Bryman and Bell, 2015). Since the research is secondary, it will not include interpretation of the findings in a new form carried out for the first time. It will be based on the proven findings and literatures already been carried out so that they serve as a good evidence of our research program.

In order to resolve any sort of activities that cannot be accepted, which might take place by the networking site on the event of identifying the answers to the research objectives so that our main aim or main research question is answered, the following suggestions are made.  There is no use of sampling methods and sampling techniques as this proposal is entirely based upon the Secondary research. Taking help of methods like surveys, interviews and observations etc. are a part of retrieving the first hand information through primary research. However, the research objectives are addressed taking help of theories, beliefs and literature already published by renowned authors. The issues which will be taken care of in order to answer the main research question or the research objective are given as follows:

  • Informed Participant Consent: The participants who will be taking part in the research will have to be informed about the details of the survey before taking part in the research.
  • Voluntary participation and the right of withdrawal without sanction: The participants of the research should be having voluntary participation. They must have the freedom to withdraw themselves from the study any time they want to.
  • Confidentiality of participants and records: All the information that will be provided by the participants should not be disclosed by the social networking site XYZ. The information provided by the participants are confidential and the confidentiality of the participants should be maintained at the highest priority.

Research Objectives: Understanding User Engagement with Scent Technology

According to Stieler (2017), it is very common that the user’s complete information is accessed by the networking company to get onto a new page for processing an app. There are fun game apps through which results are retrieved with the help of brand image. Now, since XYZ site has commented upon an individual’s looks through a well renowned established brand then it will access complete sensitive information like age, gender, sex, name, and profile picture. This information is used by the XYZ to create an influence emotionally on the participant by commenting on looks in the result.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the XYZ site to keep the sensitive details of the user protected. There may be instances when user might get a wrong image about XYZ misusing the personal details to get results of the applications (Stieler, 2017).

  • Data Storage: The data that has been used to run the analysis must be stored securely even after completion of the research. This data might be relevant for some other kind of studies.
  • Clear, coherent expression of Research Proposal: The proposal of the research, that will be made before the start of a research must be extremely clear. This is very important as this will give the researcher a clear view of what he or she has to do.
  • Regular monitoring of the research outcomes: As this will be a survey conducted in a social networking site, the number of responses received, the type of responses received, all these have monitored on a regular basis.

This study will be done by a social networking site XYZ.  The population of interest will be all the people of the country. The interest and the preferences of the people of the country either depend on the scent technology or it does not depend on the technology. The population of the country is huge and it is thus not possible to collect all the necessary information from all the people of the country to carry out this research. Hence, the need of sampling arises. In this case, a questionnaire can be made asking questions about all the necessary information for this study. The questionnaire can be made available through the social networking site. Thus, all the people visiting this site will be able to fill in the form. As soon as the numbers of necessary responses are received, the responses can be analyzed. In this case, the responses of the users will not depend on the previous responses as they will not be able to see what opinions others have given. The users will share their own experience via this survey.

The collection of data in the above method is supposed to be useful. The type of data that will be collected as a result of this collection method will be termed as primary data. Two major information will be necessary to conduct this research. These are:

  • Whether the visitor of the site purchase the product.
  • Does the advertisement regarding the scent of the product influence the visitor to purchase the product?

With the help of these two variables, the hypothesis of the research can be framed. The impact of scent technology on the purchasing intensity of a user can be analyzed using the regression analysis (Cameron and Trivedi, 2013). The R Squared value obtained from the regression will give the percentage of the influence the technology will be having on the purchasing power of the user. The ANOVA table that will be obtained from the regression analysis will show whether there is any significant difference in the mentality of the users with or without the application of scent technology. The conclusion can be drawn from the values of the F-statistic obtained from the ANOVA table.

Research Methodology: Applying Qualitative Research Approach

It is always important to check for the validity and the reliability of the data that has been collected. It will be of no use to analyze a data which is not reliable. All the results of the data will be full of errors and will give very bad predictions. Thus, the validity and the reliability of the data collected is tested before conducting the research. This is usually done with the cronbach’s test of reliability. The closer the value of Cronbach’s alpha, the more reliable the data is. In this case, the opinions of the customers will be recorded. Thus, it can be assumed that the data will be reliable as the customers are giving their very own responses. Their responses are not manipulated by any other factors or person. Thus, there is very little chance of biasedness in the data.

There are certain shortcomings XYZ networking site must take into consideration in order to ensure the security and sensitivity of the participants which are: there is no control over the timing of the updates. In case any update is made publically to spread awareness for a particular new technique XYZ has started then it might get out dated within seconds. There is less control in providing the correct timing to the update so that it is well spread. Therefore, whatever posted must be easy, simple and effective so that it is easily understandable and quick to practice (Petersen, Person, and Nash, 2014). Ethical practices must be the highest priority to gain trust of the users on XYZ site even if it is influencing and creating an emotional push on consumer’s mind about a service, idea or a product. The privacy and confidentiality must be up to the mark.  Any statement made must take into account the negative consequences it can create on the user’s emotions. Lines or automated reminders for events, anniversaries and special occasions must not create an impression of insecurity, discrimination and bias amongst the users (Babin, and Harris, 2015).


Through this research proposal XYZ will get a detailed knowledge about various ways to indulge into activities which are for the user betterment in the perception of participants. Once the aim to convince the user is achieved then sustaining in the market becomes easy. There are a few suggestions which will give XYZ an opportunity to recognize the needs of the user to influence them which are: the behaviour of a participant should not be offensively affected. For this the user must be given a chance to get familiarized about the attempt XYZ is going to make in the near future(Lindstrom, 2005). In addition, the users must not feel that they are introduced with methods which are manipulating for e.g. if there are applications designed by XYZ company which allow the users to get into the trap of a financial risk promising lucrative prizes then results may always not be in user’s favour. This will make them feel deceived and manipulated. If the site needs to gain a competitive edge, then the tactics used by XYZ to influence them emotionally should be in correct direction not causing a feeling of dissatisfaction,


Alderson, M. 2017. The Scent of You.US: HarperCollins, p.1.

Babin, B. J., and Harris, E. 2015.CB7. US: Cengage Learning, p. 7.

Berkhout, Constant. 2015. Retail Marketing Strategy: Delivering Shopper Delight. UK: Kogan Page Publishers, p. 7.

Bradford, S., and Cullen, F. 2013. Research and Research Methods for Youth Practitioners. UK: Routledge.

Bryman, A., and Bell, E. 2015. Business Research Methods. UK: Oxford University Press.

Edmonds, W.A. and Kennedy, T.D., 2016. An Applied Guide to Research Designs: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods. Sage Publications.

Georges, P.M., Tourtoulou, A. B., and Badoc, M. 2013.Neuromarketing in Action: How to Talk and Sell to the Brain. UK: Kogan Page Publishers, pp. 9-12.

Henshaw, V. 2013.Urban Smellscapes: Understanding and Designing City Smell Environments. UK: Routledge.

Petersen, L. B., Person, R., and Nash, C. 2014. Connect: How to Use Data and Experience Marketing to Create Lifetime Customers. US: John Wiley & Sons, p. 176.

Stieler, M. 2017. Creating Marketing Magic and Innovative Future Marketing Trends: Proceedings of the 2016 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference. Germany: Springer.

Lindstrom, M. 2005. Brand Sense: How to Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight & Sound. UK: Kogan Page Publishers, pp. 20-22.

Cameron, A.C. and Trivedi, P.K., 2013. Regression analysis of count data (Vol. 53). Cambridge university press.

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