Skip to main content

How to Use Game Theory to Grow Faithful Followers

Game theory is important when studying networks because it allows users to look at networks in a collaborative way.  Game theory addresses network outcomes that are controlled not by a single user, but by the interaction of many users.  While game theory is used every day to analyze social media networks, in an interview in July of 2011, Bart Steiner, former CEO of Bulbstorm, addresses how he and his company use game theory to grow faithful followers.

The premise of Steiner’s former company, Bulbstorm (before it was sold in 2013), was that it allowed users to interact in an online community to introduce and develop new ideas (e.g. business plans, inventions, etc).  Steiner uses game theory at the heart of his business model.  He states that “game theory is important because it recognizes that people want to have fun . . . and be productive at the same time”.  His website would reward people for participating in the site, whether through posting new content or voting on content.  A variety of rewards could be obtained through item giveaways, or, mostly commonly, by obtaining points on the website called “Watts”.  These Watts could be used as currency on the site to boost up ideas and such.  By using a rewards system, Bulbstorm would keep their users engaged, fully realizing the aspects of game theory in their social network.

It is easy to see this model on a variety of websites, including content site Reddit or image hosting site Imgur, where a voting system is in place to determine most popular content, but also, in the case of Reddit, “gold” can be awarded from one user to another, which can be spent on the site.  These rewards-based website models allow for multiple user engagement, which shows that game theory can be used to keep loyal followers through social media.

The link to the interview used in this article:


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

October 2016
« Sep   Nov »