The Law of Reciprocity in Social Media

Join me on twitter @shawnrsnyderWikipedia states that Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model.

I was in a class dealing with social media the other day when the teacher brought up the idea of the law of reciprocity and using it in social media. Genius, I thought but then as we kept delving into the topic I realized how much work this could turn out to be if I wanted to embrace and use this thought in its entirety. But I decided to set up a small experiment and see what the results would be.

Since I think this is so much easier on Facebook our little experiment is going to take place on Twitter.

How many acts of reciprocity does it take to see an influence on Twitter?

In the class I was in we where challenged to do five acts of reciprocity for every three acts of self promotion done daily. I’m a lazy marketer and already had my queue done for my social media in hootsuite. While everything in there wasn’t self promotion there certainly wasn’t any acts of reciprocity. So with a sigh I headed over to twitter. (Join me over at twitter at shawnrsnyder) and went through my list and randomly picked out five people and began my acts of reciprocity.

After you find a tweet you would like to respond to I was taught to look at their profile and see what they are into. And then hit the reply link and respond to them. One I  picked the guy was telling a joke. So I went and found a corny short joke. Told him how much I enjoyed his joke and here was one for him and shared the joke. And I continued by responding to four other random people.

If a Retweet In Sent Will You Be Able to Hear It on Twitter?

So the results of my experiment are: the guy that I sent the joke to, he responded back with a retweet telling me my joke was a good one. Several others responded back thanking me for responding to their tweets. Did it do anything for me? My twitter handle was out there for them and their friends to see so exposure was given as I sent out some reciprocity.

Was my experiment a success?

I will let you decide that on your own. I know that I probably won’t be able to do this every single day but I do want to try to include it in my Twitter chores as much as possible. How about you? Do you follow the law of reciprocity and what have been your results? Share them below with us.

About Shawn Snyder

Shawn Snyder owns SRS Virtual Assistant. We work as consultants and virtual help for the entrepreneur and small business owner who is looking for help with their social media needs, email marketing and admin office help.
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20 Responses to The Law of Reciprocity in Social Media

  1. I think we can’t measure reciprocity on a 1:1 basis. There seems to be a fair number of folks who expect everything and deliver nothing. Those, I have carefully culled from my lists to read, comment, or discuss. Others are either unable to unwilling to follow a 1:1 reciprocity, but I am willing to work with a 1:3 relationship. (I’m attuned to that, since I typically employ a 3:1 calculation for task completion via my associates; they can take 3 times as long as it does for me to effect a certain action.) That’s the magic number for me. I know others use 1:5, and others stick to 1:1 (although, I am sure the latter are often disappointed).
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, recently posted..The Ides of March… Plus 3My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      So true Roy. We need to get our eyes off the numbers and do the act. Never knowing exactly what the return will be it is best to be happy with the action and anything else is gravy. If you are in the online marketing world this will be taught to you quickly if one chooses to stay around.

  2. Lee Wise says:

    Interesting… and it will be interesting to see the results in the days ahead. I really never thought about putting numbers to the process.

    Have a great day!
    Lee Wise recently posted..Speaking Of PrayerMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      The numbers are purely a beginning place. If they don’t work for you just change them. This is where we where encouraged to start.

  3. Jan Kearney says:

    I’ve never really put numbers to it. I reply, share, comment etc on stuff that I find interesting (or I think my audience would if I am sharing).
    It’s social media, the key is the social bit – by responding then people are more likely to respond back. By sharing, people are more likely to share your stuff too. Of course, there are some that will never reciprocate and these are people who tend to use social media as a broadcast medium.
    I must admit, I rarely get into conversations on Twitter, simply because I can’t talk in 140 characters lol
    I’ll be interested in how your experiment goes on a longer term basis :)
    Jan Kearney recently posted..Sunday Catch Up – The Making Content Work EditionMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I’m with you Jan. Twitter is hard for me too that is why I am working with it more. I enjoy facebook and think I do a good job interacting with people there. I’ll keep you updated on my experiment. :)

  4. Toni Nelson says:

    Very interesting experiment. I practice reciprocity when it comes to blogging I make sure if someone posts a comment on my blog I do my best to post back on theirs. I have been able to connect with a lot more people this way.
    Toni Nelson recently posted..What does a bunny have to do with your blog post?My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      Hi Toni, I know you do practice reciprocity. I try to as well. Just haven’t had the same experience on Twitter so I plan on working on that.

  5. This made me think……perhaps it’s the new form of kindness! Might seem a little robotic to return a comment on facebook with a thank you….but it does remind people to do one good and kind thing a day. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Shawn says:

      I think the act of interacting and thanking someone for a comment or a thought is so foreign that it goes along way on the internet. I’m glad that the article got you to thinking about it.

  6. Amy says:

    Interesting experiment, Shawn, and I think I’ll try it, too. I try to reciprocate on my blog posts, but have never thought about it with Twitter (duh!). Good stuff, Shawn!
    Amy recently posted..Emmett Lee: our first grandsonMy Profile

  7. Janice says:

    I have only just started getting in to twitter and as part of Craftfest we are all retweeting, sharing, pinning and blogging about each other. It has made a huge difference to my blog, doubling my visitor numbers :) Even on that site though there are those who do not join in despite the fact they benefit themselves. I am being careful how I tweet, tweeting my blog about other Craftfest stalls benefits both my blog and the stallholders and is more interesting than just tweeting a product (?). Will look forward to seeing how you get on :)

    Janice x
    Janice recently posted..Bunch of Grapes earrings tutorial.My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I love the way you are using the law of reciprocity with your craftfest. Helping others & yourself now that is a nice gift.

  8. When I first started online I didn’t realize it was a give and take. Share others and they will share yours. It works well this way as you can not only learn from those you are sharing but also get a chance to spread the word about your content as well.
    Ashley Porter recently posted..Tips On Handling Frustration And ObstaclesMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      That is such a good description with give and take. Love it. Glad you learned the lesson it will help spread the word for your content just as you mentioned.

  9. I have different numbers for different sites. When it comes to my blog I always answer to comments and nowadays I comment on their blogs as well. My fan page I comment/share 2-5 pages I like. When someone comment on my page, I make sure to go back to theirs. Twitter: 1/3 tweets, 1/3 retweets and 1/3 answer other tweets. LinkedIn just getting started…. :) Some days I comment several more blogs, but I try to comment at least 3 per day. I believe it is super important to work with reciprocity on social media and to have a structure. Thank you for bringing this up!
    Matilda Sjödell recently posted..With awareness, I create healthy habitsMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I love how you have this set up and ready to go on your reciprocity with social media. Its so important to keep it up and you have a game plan.

  10. Cynthia says:

    I believe in reciprocity, but never really thought about putting numbers to it. You have opened my eyes to the importance of measurement. One thing I struggle with is being consistent enough to develop long term relationships over the web. There are so many great ideas and great people that it’s hard for me to keep up with them ll.
    Cynthia recently posted..God asks: Who do YOU say I am?My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      That is a fine line to walk and one I struggle with too. I start with keeping you with comments on my blog the fb & as I shared twitter.

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