Hunt’s Law: An Experiment

Category: In Brief

Hunt’s Law (fake news drives real news out of circulation) applies everywhere today, even to Hunt.

I’ve started posting weekly short-form Epsilon Theory notes on LinkedIn. I’m always interested in finding new venues to spread the ET word, and the good people at LinkedIn corporate are soooo much more helpful and inviting than the good people at another social media behemoth that rhymes with crook.

The distribution feature I was most interested in testing with the LinkedIn posts was comments. I’ve never implemented a comments feature on the ET website, because on the one hand there’s no quicker way to ruin your equity value if you’re hijacked by a know-nothing commentariat a la Zerohedge, and on the other hand there’s nothing sadder than a deserted but oh-so clean comment section. When it works, though, it’s magic.

I’m still not sure where I’m going to end up on comments, but there’s a case study in the hijacking phenomenon happening with the most recent short-form note that I posted on LinkedIn – “Controlling Your Cartoon: Nike and the Necessary Meme” – which is a (very) lightly reworked version of the ET short-form note – “Controlling Your Cartoon: Nike and the Art of the Meme“. To recap what that note is all about, it argues that the polarizing Nike/Kaepernick ad is a smart business move in an already polarized society. In exactly the same way that centrist political candidates lose to more extremist candidates on both the left and the right, so do centrist marketing campaigns lose to more extremist campaigns on both the left and the right.

To be clear, I’m not upset about the hijacking. I expected this note to be hijacked, because it’s intentionally provocative with the Nike/Kaepernick ad teaser. And wow … it did not disappoint.

Most everyone reading this post is also a LinkedIn member, so I’m not going to take screenshots of all the comments and reprint them here. But here’s a representative submission:

Actually, it’s not really a representative submission, because it’s written well and isn’t over-the-top enraged. But it is representative of the 90% of comments that are responding VERY negatively to the Nike ad itself, and have NOTHING to say or do with the actual content of my note.

But here’s another interesting datapoint. In addition to being the most commented-on note I’ve published on LinkedIn, it is also the most LIKED note I’ve published on LinkedIn, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of views!

Now … I’ve got a healthy ego, but I’m not so insane as to think that all of these Likes are for the actual content of my note, any more than the comments are for the actual comment of my note. No, the Likes are people who have a positive reaction to the Nike ad itself, but have zero desire to dive into the swirling waters of hater comments.

I’m still mulling over what this all means and whether there’s any way to design a more rigorous experiment here (if only LinkedIn had a Dislike button …), but I’ve got one clear conclusion already:

That social media behemoth with a name that rhymes with crook has already run these experiments and knows the answers.

Oh, and one more thing … Nike’s stock price hit an all-time high yesterday.


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