Revealing the top secrets of social
engineering in marketing
The world of sales and marketing is
chock full of social engineering, NLP and manipulation techniques.
There is no better time to see all of these techniques in full bore than
during the holiday season. We can learn a lot by examining and dissecting
these aspects of SE and NLP that are used. Lets analyze a few...
The first and one of the most effective methods is redirection.
The same way a magician or street hustler will "redirect" you
attention to your right forearm as he slips the watch off your left wrist
is the way marketers will try to redirect your attention from the cost of
items, especially in economic downturns. What is redirection?
Simply redefining the problem so it doesn’t look like a problem.
Marketers use it to move you away from the real problem and into a more
controllable area. Here’s a simple pattern to redefine someone’s thoughts.
“It’s not about X, it’s about Y”. “It’s not about how much this
gift costs, it’s about how happy your children will be when they get the
toy everybody wants!” By redefining the problem (how expensive it
is) the emphasis is moved off the price and onto how happy your children
will be. This is a pow! erful technique to get the buyer (YOU) to
forget how little is in your bank account and how much this will cost but
only to focus on how HAPPY your children will be with you.
“It’s not about the price, it’s about the treats your girlfriend will
give you when she sees this treasure she’ll keep forever.” Same
story - different buyer. Notice how the ending is followed by
thoughts of future benefits. Now that you have redefined the
problem, the sale is yours.
Our next method that is used often is agreement framing. Holidays always give people
time to agree with each other. Many people want to seem agreeable this
season but really want their way? Here’s the pattern to do it: “I
agree and would add…” “I agree the gift is expensive and would add
that’s why it’s the best gift they will receive this holiday and you’ll
see them smile for years to come.” You’ll see the most amazing
changes to this simple statement. When you practice this Agreement
Frame and then start noticing how much it is used in marketing you will
be amazed. You will also quickly see how beneficial it is at work
when you can agree with everybody and still get what you want.
You can combine these two patterns into a larger pattern. “I agree
it’s an outrageously ugly gift and would add, it’s not about how perfect
it isn’t, it’s about how much attention you’ll get this holiday
season.” Now you see how simple it is to make powerful turns in the
conversation, turns you want the conversation to make.
Our next method to look at is a form
of redirection using the BUT and YET words. Using this method many
marketers add or delete themselves our thoughts. Here’s one method
of doing this. The technique is simply a modified
"redefine" that we've already discussed. Using the same
“it’s not about X (BUT or YET) it’s about Y.” How do you feel when
each is used?
“I really like you BUT….” BUT acts as a delete key because most
people don’t really hear anything after the BUT. When people hear
the BUT in a sentence they assume that bad news is coming next.
This method works by changing the sentence around, giving the bad news
first then the good news. The BUT negates the first part of the
sentence leaving you with the good part at the end. “You really
have lots of flaws but I know you’ll improve yourself and become a great
person” or “I understand this is really an expensive gift but think about
how happy they will be when they get the present”
When you use YET in a sentence, it creates movement to the next
thought. Using this pattern, you can connect two dissimilar
thoughts into one coherent thought. “I understand this is a really
expensive gift yet it’s a joy that will last for many years.”
Notice how the expense implies that it will last for years yet there is
no proof it will last 20 minutes.
Our next method is a power-house. This method is used to change
someone whole frame of reference. Wouldn’t you like to change
someone’s point of view? Changing people’s frame of reference to
see things in a new way is a powerful tool. One technique is to use
words like “notice”, “see”, “aware” or “realize” as they imply
presupposed truths. This implication can be subject to challenges
so be aware and practice the patterns that you’ve learned since you
started reading this article.
“Are you aware that we have the most
complete collection of plastic things in the city?” or at a holiday
feeding “It’s been great meeting you. Have you noticed how much
rapport we have together? I look forward to the next time we’re
together, it means we’ll get on even better!” Using the “notice”
calls attention to the rapport. This starts the listener thinking
about rapport or plastic things and keeps these at the top of mind
Want to start some family fun? Do you have a family member that
just grates on you? Well for that family member that you don’t really
like. “Have you noticed how much people are talking about you
behind your back? No? Sorry I brought it up. Have some
This is just a rough overview of several popular and easily learned
techniques used by marketers especially during the heavy buying
season. As social engineers we can learn a lot by reviewing and
practicing these techniques.
Here are some other more subtle holiday SE thing to be aware of.
• Watches usually have their hands set at 10:00 and
2:00 to give the appearance of a smile.
• Women’s ads usually have more words, especially those
involving family, love and future.
• Children’s ads have lots of color and pictures
You probably won't look at shopping the
same again. Social Engineering, or manipulating people to do what
you want, has been used in sales and marketing... well since sales and
marketing have been around. It necessarily negative all the time,
but it is important we are aware of the tactics they will try to use to
make us part with our hard earned cash.
We know there are many more methods
used and these just scratch the surface, but feel free to practice these
and let us know how you do. We want to hear your progress, ideas
"TheNurse" Smith & Chris "loganWHD" Hadnagy
- The Future of Online Enticement?
I have recently started using an iPhone
for a variety of different functions related to my work. All in all, I
have to say it is not my favorite phone, but it is serving a purpose in
allowing me to become familiar with a variety of different options that
this mainstream device offers. In working with the device and looking for
a new Twitter client, I came across an application named Twinkle. I
wanted to share with the community some of my observations from using the
Twinkle is a social networking application created by Tapulous for the
iPhone or iPod Touch. It is similar to Twitter, with a few key
differences. When a user first installs and runs Twinkle, the application
requests an e-mail address to generate a Tapulous account. The e-mail
address is utilized to confirm the account and a profile is created.
From this point on, the profile is accessed and managed on the iPhone with
no password required. This process makes it extremely easy to start up
and use the application. The ease of use combined with the large number
of iPhone owners creates a sizable potential user base.
Users also have the option of associating the application with a Twitter
account. If this step is not conducted, the profile and all generated
content lives only within the Twinkle network and is only accessible
through the iPhone or iPod Touch.
The key feature of Twinkle, and main difference from Twitter, is its
location awareness. Within Twitter, users have to "follow"
other users to see what they have posted to the network. Twinkle on the
other hand, has the ability to build a dynamic network based on the
proximity to other users. Users are able to quickly pull up all posts
from other users within a defined proximity from their current location
(default is 50 miles). The user’s location is automatically identified by
In most circumstances, this is a powerful feature. This allows users to
quickly identify others in their local area and discuss popular events,
places to eat, weather, traffic problems, and so on. If desired, users
have the ability to define friends in the same manner as Twitter. Private
messages are supported as well as attaching images to both public and
I find great utility in this application as it gives users a way to find
out what is going on in their area from a “word on the street” level
without relying on other news sources. When traveling, it is a great way
to get a feel for the local area.
However, there is a huge potential for abuse that could occur on the
network. For instance, below is the content that was displayed today when
launching the application. This was the default list of recent posts from
users close by.
If you look closer at the posts from
one of the profiles on the list we find:
This sort of behavior, while
regrettable, is almost expected of any service such as this.
One of the surprising aspects of this are some of the actions of the
female profiles. For instance, here is a public profile from a young
female within my local area:
Notice the repetitive requests for
direct communication of "let's talk!” This is interesting from the
perspective that this is a young female that is actively soliciting
private communications. It’s possible that this isn’t a legitimate
account and is someone posing as a female just to attract conversation
(not law enforcement related activity). You can tell by the picture icon
on some of those posts that pictures are attached to them. An example of
the pictures which are posted:
At this point it’s impossible to tell
if this is a valid account with activity by a young female or someone
else utilizing pictures of young female to add “legitimacy” to the posts.
Within the application, you can also view a list of a user’s friends. This
female profile had a number of friends with one that stood out due to the
graphic nature of the posts.
This was the only picture in this
male’s profile that was safe to post. The other images were entirely too
graphic. It is interesting that this account was tied to the previously
mentioned female profile as a friend since they are not in the same
geographic area. It is unknown as to the intentions of these users, but
it could be said that much of the activity is inappropriate.
When I first came across Twinkle, I noticed some of this content and
initially dismissed it. However, after some weeks of using the
application I have found this sort of content to be very common in my
local area (and this may not be representative of other areas).
I do want to state that I am not trying to discredit Tapulous, the
publisher of Twinkle. I appreciate that they are trying to publish a
quality iPhone app for free. The negative aspects that I described come
at the fault of the users, not of the software publisher. From reading
the Tapulous support forums, it appears as if the publisher takes abuse
seriously, and removes accounts that engage in inappropriate behavior.
I wrote this post simply to bring attention to Twinkle and the potential
for its use in online enticement. This application is uniquely positioned
for this purpose due to the reckless behavior by the user base, the fact
that users are able to identify the proximity of other profiles, the
relative anonymity of accounts (sign up under a false e-mail address), and
the lack of attention paid to the content of the network.
The Twinkle network is widely unknown and I hope that this post will
provide a resource to anyone involved in enticement investigations. By
making parents and law enforcement aware of the negative possibilities,
it is hoped that they can help educate their children and stop potential
offenders before anything bad can occur.
I wrote this post over the weekend to post here on Monday. Sunday night,
I took another look at what was happening in my local area, when I saw
Here we have a user from my local
geographic area soliciting 13 to 14 year old girls.
This one screen shot makes my case.
Written by Jim "Elwood" O'Gorman