Social media is a marketing tool that many years ago, most businesses could have only dreamt about. There are many ways to gain an edge for your online operation but if you don’t utilise Facebook and Twitter as a minimum, you will struggle to gain a foothold.
Having accounts is the first box to tick but naturally, it’s how you use them that really counts. Recently, the media has reported on a tactic that companies use that has been borrowed from the gambling industry. The big social accounts allow for this method to take place but what, exactly, are we talking about here?
Come back for more
It’s very easy to sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. etc. but it’s not quite so simple if you want to take a break or leave completely. Have you ever noticed that if you dare to leave Twitter alone for 48 hours or so, the notifications increase, and they become slightly obscure? Twitter will doubtless inform you that one of your followed accounts has tweeted for the first time in a while. The tweet is unlikely to be earth shattering - possibly a photo of their lunch - but it’s designed to peak your interest and get you back online.
The same principle applies to Facebook. Come away from the site for a certain period of time and there will doubtless be a notification informing you that a friend has made another inconsequential update.
This is just one comparison that we can make from the gambling industry. If you take a break from your sportsbook or from online casino games, you can be certain that you will receive an offer via email or SMS. There could be enhanced odds or free spins on the table but whatever the deal may be, its aim is to get you back online and engaging.
This is just one area where social media is mirroring the tactics of the gambling industry, but things can go far deeper.
Refresh and Repeat
Just how do online slot machines operate? Regular players will know that it’s a simple case of hitting the spin button and watching the reels drop into play. If you’re lucky, you will win an instant cash prize or you will trigger a bonus feature while other spins will result in a lost stake. There are ups and downs with the ultimate aim of finishing your session in credit but it’s those highs and lows that are being mirrored by the social media providers.
The action of a slot machine, either online or in the physical world, is stimulating a psychological craving and, whether we realise it or not, our social media activity is following that same pattern.
Some of the highs and lows that can be encountered online fall in place quite randomly. You could log on to Twitter or Facebook and watch an inspiring video of humans rescuing animals from impending doom while the very next post highlights some of the worst atrocities that take place around the world.
That’s a natural form of creating the same highs and lows that you could expect to find from slot machine gaming but some of the practices carried out are not quite as random.
Keeping you in the Loop
Social media sites can deliberately employ the same ‘Pull and Refresh’ feature that is widely used by the online slots. One of the methods employed by the software designers is based on a technique known as ‘infinite scroll’. Have you noticed that when you are scrolling down through Twitter or Facebook, nothing is asked of you? You don’t have to click on a link to watch a video - all you have to do is read.
You could literally scroll ‘infinitely’ during this procedure and for many of us, we’re switching off to an extent with the messages and images only going into our subconscious mind. Companies need you to stay online: It keeps their stock price up and enhances their figures if they need to go into another round of funding.
All the time, this is building up an addiction to social media which is becoming increasingly hard to break. From simple offers and updates that encourage you to log back in following an absence, there are far more subtle yet intensely psychological techniques that keep you coming back for more. In very extreme cases, we can have such a strong craving for more notifications that we can even be fooled into thinking our phone is vibrating when in fact, it is completely silent.
If used responsibly, both social media and online betting and casino sites can be entertaining, and they can enhance our lives. Obviously, however, there is a line for all of us and these psychological marketing tactics can have an effect.
Those that struggle with gambling can find help from a number of organisations such as GamStop and GambleAware and while similar bodies may be absent in terms of social media, there are steps that can be taken to reduce your time online. Studies indicate that the average adult in the US spends up to 12 days a year on social media and if you want some of that time back, there is some expert advice on hand.
You could, for example, simply delete the apps or lock your phone away in a desk draw but if you don’t trust yourself to stay away completely, it’s easy enough to install a news blocker on to your device. Finding alternative ways to beat the boredom factor can also help and physical exercise is an obvious one. It’s not as easy as switching on your phone but this is an excellent way to deal with your cravings.
The trend may be a concerning one and the link with gambling is unwanted in some sections, but it is possible to fight back. Keep everything in moderation and you can keep all of your online activities under control.