The Law of Reciprocity in Social Media

Join me on twitter @shawnrsnyderThis month on Friday’s I am going to be sharing with you reruns. The oldies but goodies of my former blog posts. These are the most popular posts since the last Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Wikipedia 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) 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?

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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15 Responses to The Law of Reciprocity in Social Media

  1. Jocelyn says:

    I definitely believe in the law of reciprocity, but I don’t expect others to return the favor. I think that sets us up for disappointment and kind of defeats the purpose of doing something out of the kindness of our hearts or expressing what we truly believe. It isn’t true kindness or true reciprocity if we set expectations on how, or if, it is returned.

    In my experiences I find the more authentic I am with people, the more I connect with people. That to me speaks of the true spirit of reciprocity.
    Jocelyn recently posted..Recovering Your Rhythm : Best StrategiesMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I love your thought process. Remember that I was also speaking from a business perspective and wanted to do all I could to continue the conversation. If they come back to it or not I can’t control but I can control if I come back and respond to the conversation.

  2. I would love to know how I would be able to tell if your experiment was a success Shawn. I am not on Twitter much and would definitely love to know how to use it better. Thanks for the tips you shared on using it better though by just picking random people and retweeting them. I didn’t think about looking into their profile. Thanks again for the tip.
    DTaRelle F. Tullis recently posted..Teaching Our Children Correct And Acceptable Behavior Is A ProcessMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I’m so glad you got some little tips and tricks from the post. I am actually going to be doing a basic Twitter class. It should be offered some time early May so be on the look out for it.

  3. Martha says:

    I only follow brands/people relevant to my interests/target market. If I were to reciprocate every follow I’d miss all the quality posts in the clutter. So I do apply it selectively :)
    Martha recently posted..Hurrah for the weekend!My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      As long as you are having conversations with the folks that you choose I think that is a fair and wise situation.

  4. I have not been using Twitter, but Facebook has made it very easy to follow the Law of Reciprocity as you point out. And I have not only seen it work, it is amazing the opportunities that I have been offered. The one thing which I think is important, is that the content be quality. You took the time to find a joke for the man in your example, which is what he was looking for. If you had sent him a recipe for bean soup, you may not have gotten the same response! :)
    Arla DeField – SayingNoWithoutFeelingGuilty.com recently posted..Picking your “NO’s”My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I think you are wise to pick one platform and begin there adding as you are ready to take care of it. The message has to engage the person you are having a conversation with that is what makes it social.

  5. I think a more appropriate concept for reciprocity is 2 for 1- at a minimum. First of all, that helps show the world that you are not as selfish as others may be… It also keeps what you send out more interesting. Finally, it gives others a special impetus to get off their duffs and return the favor.
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA@Cerebrations.biz recently posted..Some tests really go long…My Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I love the comments you make on my blogs and on facebook. You have an art for leaving a clever remark. Thank you.

  6. Amy says:

    Ideally I reciprocate with every comment that I receive, although some days it’s bit overwhelming and probably not even realistic! Arg, I still have to write a blog post today, you know?
    Amy recently posted..Helping Philippa lay her egg: an egg-binding adventureMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I know I find it difficult to keep up with all the different platforms. I work on each and while the reciprocation might be a bit late I always try to make an attempt to show my appreciation.

  7. Toni Nelson says:

    I always post back to others who post on my site. I believe it’s all about building a community. People take time to comment on my site I want to make the time to comment back on theirs.
    Toni Nelson recently posted..Going to the playground could make you moneyMy Profile

  8. Ana says:

    I like to give back as much as I can and to give without expecting anything back, but I don’t like automatic tit for tat kind of reciprocal linking, tweeting etc unless it’s something my readers will like. I just think if I retweet, repin (or whatever) spammy links, I am giving to one person and taking away (time) from a whole group of people.
    Ana recently posted..What To Wear On A Date – 10 Things To Get RightMy Profile

    • Shawn says:

      I understand your feelings and agree with you. The people I am linked with usually are within my niche so I hope I’m not wasting anyone’s time.

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