What games are you playing?

I've been thinking about "games" a lot lately. And maybe it's in the air, as this morning, Justin Welsh wrote about the social media game and revealed how much of your success comes from your social graph (e.g. who routinely engages with your posts).

It's probably no surprise that the more influential the people engaging with your content, the more successful that content performs in the algorithm. So you see people with large followings dedicating time to engaging with others with large followings (because then they may get the benefit of reciprocity).

I'm glad he's writing about this publicly because people like me KNOW this is how the game is played. Some people do it very explicitly (i.e. a trade agreement) and others do it more naturally and generously.

It's not all bad. Some of it truly is generous and natural. But there are definitely growth-hacky bad apples that make it all feel kind of bad. And from the outside, it looks kind of bad once you know what you're looking at.

So we rarely talk about it – because if I'm seen as playing the game (even ethically) and that hurts my reputation (even unfairly) then I lose the game. This is where I virtue signal and tell you I refuse to play this game – but if I'm honest, I've definitely logged a few innings. Not all that successfully.

Anyway, I don't just think about social media as a game – I think of every activity I participate in as a game. That is, if it's an activity that awards "winners" with an outcome that I want.

So today, I'm pulling back the curtain on how I think about the games I play. This is something I originally shared in the walled garden of The Lab – but this is a small, safe place too.

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