Prisoner’s Dilemma

How does the Prisoner’s Dilemma apply to the social media world?

Well, first I had to find out what exactly what Prisoner’s Dilemma actually is.  I liked this quick quote from wikipedia “Prisoner’s Dilemma…shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so.”  (Side-note, this reminds me of an episode of the TV show Numb3rs, but it’s not on YouTube, so if you have Amazon Prime you can watch the episode here:  It’s pretty great.).

To sum the answer up, there are two parties with different interests.

There are two parties with different interests.  The company wants positive conversation/interaction online.  The public isn’t always interested in their company.  However, the public likes free stuff, positive reinforcement, and funny pictures or memes.  The company wants to  be known.  If they work together, they succeed.  If they don’t help each other out with what the other party wants, neither one gets what they want.

Should a Facebook friend keep providing favors for a friend who never reciprocates?

Should they, or will they?  I think general human nature tends to make people stop giving if they never receive reciprocation.  We need feedback.  For example, if a person comments positively on a company’s post, they are more likely to do it again if the company gives them some positive feedback, like a “like” or a follow-up question, or some kind of incentive.   If the company never appreciates or reciprocates their efforts, a person is less likely to engage in the conversation again.  Social media is a conversation, and just like in real life, no one likes to have a conversation with a brick wall.   There has to be some give and take.

Why would cooperation between a business and their customers be so important?

It’s super important.  People talk. If they don’t like the business, they won’t say good things about it.  Word of mouth carries a lot of weight to it.  If one of my friends recommends a service/company/store to me, I’m more likely to give it a chance than if I had never heard of it.  Businesses need that word of mouth message to be working for them, so they have to have good relationships with their customers.  That means they have to cooperate with what their customers want.  They have to know how to not annoy their customers, and still invite their customers to engage in the positive conversation about their business.

How can you promote cooperation on social media?

Offer incentives to promote cooperation.  We talked about SLC Comic Con doing that.  Here’s an example from their facebook page, where they encourage people to like/comment on their posts for a chance to win a multipass to the 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience:

incentive to partcipate

Other incentives could include a chance for a trip, free tickets, gift cards, etc…

You also should ask relevant questions of your public.  Here, Zappos promotes their own goods, but they do it under the spin of which superbowl team’s colors their fans are supporting.  They got 22 comments and 213 likes as of the morning of Feb. 3rd 2013.

Zappos, good interaction of facebook

When should a person cooperate and when should they be selfish?

That’s probably up to the person.  Some people like to protect their privacy, and some like to engage in conversations.  I think it just depends on the person, and whether they feel like responding to the incentives of or reasons for cooperation.


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