Social Media is like a role playing game. Anyone ever play Civilization or Empire Earth? They are strategy based games that are turned based ways to build an empire from a tribal village. The idea is that you grow your empire throughout time and you deal with all of the pitfalls of ruling an empire. When successful and persistent you find yourself at the top of the greatest empire the world has ever known.
More and more I look at Social Media, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as an adult version of these games. No, I do not play Farmville or the MafiaWars. Instead, I look at the networking as an adult version of Role Playing Games(RPG).
Let me demonstrate. First you start out by reaching out to those you know on a social networking site to start your base of followers, just as you would gather your resources in these strategy games.
Then next you begin to grow and expand past your current network of friends, associates, and family to strangers who reach out to you or are connected loosely to you through someone else. This is exactly the point in an RPG where you begin your first campaign and attack a rebel village or another small kingdom in your neck of the woods.
The more you connect with those outside your comfort area the larger your network grows as soon you start to get requests to connect from people around the world. You suddenly find yourself connected with real estate investors in Pennsylvannia and have friends in Indonesia that you never could have possibly imagined. On an RPG, you begin to grow faster and faster after your first campaign as your army grows, your resources from new regions make you stronger and you combine your strengths with the strengths of your new subjects to create a massive empire.
Then suddenly as you begin to see the light and think the world is yours for the taking, a new invasion force shows up. In real life, it is like when Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook throw a loop in your plans by changing the way their sites work and making it more challenging to connect with people through their new and improved rules. In a game like MedievalII: Total War when exactly at the point you dominate the map the Mongolians horde comes on the scene and push you back by taking your territories and weaking your war against the previously struggling kingdoms of the West.
Every challenge brings it own opportunity as well, since Twitter and Facebook have scared many businesses and users. This now provides an opportunity for someone like myself to come in and train users the proper way to use these social networking to build relationships. Additionally, the Mongol invasion eventually turns out to be a benefit as they also attack my enemies and in the process weaken themselves and my enemies. I can then go back and recoup the lands that I lost and at the same time grow even stronger as I capture more lands and add more resources until one day I am the Emperor of Empire Earth, Civilization, or Social Media. Got it!
Networking is not a game that you play with people’s lives. Instead it is an adventure where you meet new people, so that those around you and yourself profit from the connections until one day business keeps growing at a non-stop rate. Then you know that the reason behind this is because you have mastered networking online, just as you mastered the games you played as a child, or perhaps still play.