A long time ago I have written a post that stirred a lot of discussion about what maybe makes Tango addictive. In that post, I was using the part of the Hooked pattern described in the book by Nir Eyal (in case you don’t have the book you can watch a TEDx video pretty much summarising the key ideas). I was focusing on the action and reward phase, explaining that the variety of embraces and experiences which depends on so many different factors is what keeps us looking for more. What makes us try more… search more. But what keeps us still after so many experiences? Why some of us are discouraged and quit? How do they miss this addition and what is the further impact on communities?
Investment and value
In the second part of the cycle, Nir Eyal is explaining that in order for an application to stick with the user apart from the reward that someone gets from action and its variability there must also be a long-term investment that they build through these actions and rewards. For example, the more you communicate and post job-related stuff on LinkedIn the more increases your status in your working domain and people can acknowledge it. On Facebook the more you post and the more likes you get the more popular you become among your friends or groups. In general, one big motive is building a social status among peers (there are others too). Everyone wants to be part of a group and if they are recognizable and respected by the other members the hardest they will leave the group.
Moreover, such applications make sure that this investment that you build provides something valuable to you. This way the app becomes more valuable for you and you continue to see a point in using it and don’t go for an alternative. That is for example why attempts to hit Facebook through competitive products as Google+ failed. Because everyone has already built a network and a given value that depends on this network that transferring it to another place is difficult. You can’t simply move in this other network. If your network… your friends… don’t move with you… then you need to build again your value by investing time and actions like posting in it. Who wants to go through this trouble again when they already have this on Facebook?
So how is this all translating to Tango? Tango as a social dance is really another social network. So, what is the investment you build in this network? Your reputation. Everyone wants to be a prominent member… a dancer that attracts others to dance… a dancer who almost always enjoys their tandas. Of course, you need to take action… take classes…practice… visit milongas… practice… visit marathons… practice… etc. But what actually builds your status is not all this. Is the people you dance with. When you manage to dance with an already prominent member of the community, and you manage to leave a good impression on them… then your value is increased by a little. A coin of reputation is added to your personal account. This way… little by little, milonga after milonga, tanda after tanda, your reputation steadily increases. And as we saw earlier, the more you increase your investment, and your reputation in this case, the harder it is to exit the group.
Communities and building value
Now imagine a community where experienced members use the usual excuse of “they are not good enough” for not dancing with less experienced dancers. Inevitably more and more new members will quit. If you can’t build an investment within the network you won’t see the point in being part of it. If you were not popular or didn’t see a prospect of becoming popular on Facebook you would be the first to switch to a different social network. On the other hand, when experienced members are a bit more generous and encouraging with new members this will help them grow their investment easier and see a point in continuing to be part of the group. If you have most of your friends on Facebook and they like and approve of what you post… why bother leaving for another social network?
Let’s do some math. If for example a community has 20% experienced members and in every weekly milonga every experienced member dances one tanda with a less experienced member… this means that the rest of the 80% will have a chance to win one tanda every 4 weeks. 1 potential reputation coin every month. Of course, not all will progress so fast… some will get more often good dancers… some not. But on average, the possibility is about 1 tanda every month! This will give them the motive to continue building value… continue taking classes… continue practicing etc. If out of this 20% only the 5% is actually dancing one tanda per week with less experienced members then the rate becomes one tanda per 16 (80/5) weeks!!! 1 coin every almost 4 months. Again some might progress faster but in general, the average pace will be about 4 times slower than the previous example.
How is this translating for the community? If you think about it, the pace at which a community allows new members to progress relates directly to the refresh rate of new members and how much it encourages its members to continue. So, the first community will be filling much quicker with dancers and keeping them in the community, motivating them to continue. This inevitably leads to more opportunities and potential experiences for the experienced dancers as well, since this process will enrich the top-level dancers faster. The second community will discourage people from staying in it, leading to either fragmentation or a closed not often refreshed community. New members will have to wait a long to build investment and experienced members will rarely find new entries to their group. So eventually the community will shrink and possibly die… or at least get in a comma!
So if you consider yourself an experienced dancer… next time you hear yourself say or think the usual “I don’t like dancing with beginners!” think about it again. Maybe in a few years, you will get bored from dancing always with the same people and not see the point to continue dancing anymore. Who’s fault will it be when your community dies?
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Talking about investments, coins, values, and money, in general, means that tonight’s Goodnight Tango could not be other but “La viruta” which in Lunfardo is actually referring to money. I chose Fresedo’s version because it feels richer… like it has more money than the others.