Playing The Social Media Odds?

by Jay Deragon on 08/17/2010

Social media are much like gambling. Who you reach with your content is a gamble of sorts. Everyone is playing the odds, fixed or not.

Social media are  games of odds. Everyone is betting to be popular, aiming at audiences and trying to “pull” them into a transaction. Just like gambling the process could be addictive and most of the time the odds are against you.

Do You Know the Odds?

When you post a blog or a tweet what are you betting on if anything? Hoping to gain recognition, followers, popularity, positioning of your offering or prominence?

What do people expect when they go to Vegas to gamble? To gain more than they spend. What are the odds? What do people expect from using social media? Many people gamble in hopes of winning some money, fame and recognition.  Realistically, the odds of winning  without losing a significant amount of time and productivity are very low.  The reason that traditional media makes so much money is because the house ( radio, television, print or brand site) has an advantage.  Probability is in their favor because they have attention of a  larger audience than most users of social media.

The odds in favor of winning with social media are expressed as the ratio of a pair of integers, such that the first represents the relative likelihood that something will happen, and the second, the relative likelihood it won’t, as in “the odds that a randomly chosen day of the week is a Sunday are one to six,” which is sometimes written 1:6, or 1/6. In probability theory and statistics, where the variable “p” is the chance in favor of the event, and the chance against the event is therefore 1-p, “the odds” of the event are the quotient of the two, or p over 1-p.  While the mathematical chance of an event has a value in the range from zero to one, “the odds” in favor of that same event lies between zero and infinity. The odds against the event with chance given as “p” are 1-p over p.

With the emergence of social media people and organizations are betting they can create some “action”. That possibility is against them and  has expanded significantly given the growth of people and organizations trying to “make some action happen“. The “spread” has increased because not only is traditional media vying for our attention but millions of people are aiming for it as well.

Social technology follows the concept of “spread” in that the technology “spreads” messaging to “network clusters” of people using certain networks to reach “clusters” of people who may have affinity to other people or relevant content. Most people think of gambling when they hear the word spread.  Spread are used in gambling to decide the odds. Social media are much like gambling because if you understand the “odds” of the game you can improve your “game playing” strategy and the related tactics. The social game is about connecting with the right audience and to win you have to focus on the issues in the 5 X 6 Social Media Matrix model to understand relevant issues that effect the “spread” of your audience.

Without relevancy to intent you end up increasing the “spread” rather than “decreasing” the spread.  When you increase the “spread” you reduce  probability of reaching the right audience channels. When you decrease the spread to improve chances of winning by reaching the right audience.

The power of social technology, properly used, is in the “reduction of spread”. Using old strategies and tactics applied by old media reflects the “copy” vs. “innovate” philosophy. Which philosophy improves your odds of success?


Derek August 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I love the gambling analogy – it’s a great way to look at social media. Have you seen any successful moves by old media based companies toward using new media that would serve as an example to businesses that are struggling to integrate them?

ingenesist (ingenesist) August 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

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Alltop_Social (Alltop Social Media) August 17, 2010 at 7:23 am

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