[Image: Flickr user wolfB1958]

“Politics is a direct-response business,” declares the digital director of President Obama’s re-election campaign. “People do things if you ask them to do it, and … don’t … if you don’t ask.”

Exactly! In fact, this is true not only in politics, but also in social media. If you want your readers to click “like” or “retweet” or “reblog” or “pin” or “plus,” you gotta ask for it. Not for nothing do two of the web’s most popular sites–BuzzFeed and Mashable–serve up big buttons at the top of each article, beseeching you to “share me now!” What’s more, these icons now include the number of shares in real time, boxing you in with peer pressure: “Don’t share me–I dare you!” This is marketing at its finest: so subliminal, you think you’re making a considered choice. …

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