If you use merge codes to faux-personalize your broadcast emails, some in your mailing list will be stroked, thinking you were writing to them only. Others will be reminded of that guy at the cocktail party who curries favor by interjecting your name into his sentences way too many times, and you’ll drop down a notch or two in their estimations.
If you purchase YouTube views or Facebook likes or Twitter mentions, some who follow you will take the bait and follow the crowd. Others will suspect you stuffed the ballot box or, worse, supported some third-world electronic sweat shop to look better than you are.
If you offer a subscription plan with an insanely low introductory price in big, bold letters, some will jump to sign up, thinking they’ve found a great deal. Others will look for the fine print, think about the long term, and make their decisions based on what they’ve learned about the potentially high costs of switching.
Everything can be gamed. And there will always be some people who will fall into the traps we set. But maybe we should be spending more time and energy and consideration thinking about what our games and the traps within them say about how we feel and what we think about those we’re inviting to play.
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