Law of Reciprocity: Why You Should Think, Twice, Before Using it Unconditionally in Your Social Blogging Channels
The law of reciprocity is evident that appears sparking in the social-game, after analying the comments received on this blog and in my social channels, about my blog commenting – social networking policy.
The reciprocity law isn’t new, indeed I think is pre-wired on most of humans (not in everybody) and it’s based in the ethical – moral principle of the golden rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” This law has been present since all our history and today it’s totally relevant to social media plus blogging.
But, we should stick to this law completely? I believe the answer is: YES and NO.
YES and NO: Hey Gera, are you crazy? No, well perhaps a little 😉
I’ll explain it below, why you’d explore all the angles of the situations!
Law of Reciprocity in Blogging
I’ll put a vivid example that YOU must feel of your own or perhaps with a friend to whom it is happening, right now.
The typical comment-back. You comment on my blog therefore I’d comment on your blog.
Let’s do some maths to study the comment back – hey I’ve “eaten” maths all my life, even the ones that are like hieroglyphics – but this is very simple:
Let’s say you make a comment “campaign” or “visits”- call what you want – and comment on other blogs, wisely not spamming (reading previously the article), in 15-20 comments per hour during 2/3 hours per day.
Weekly, you’d done about 150 min – 300 max comments. Of course you’re a master commenting! I’m so far to that numbers 😉
Now let’s say that rate of comment back is of 50% no idea about a real number and I couldn’t find some stat about it (if you’ve one, tell me in comments). So, you’re receiving tons of comments in your blog, more than 100 per week, just for the reciprocity law, applied to blog commenting!
We must ADD to the equation, the organic comments coming from organic traffic like Google, Yahoo and Bing + the comments coming from your preferred social channels.
Overall, your blog is getting hundreds of comments per week, this is great, but really? All it depends of your objectives:
1) If your goals are only reading comments on your blog – objective, done.
2) If you blog just for hobby, and want comments, then I think is ok or not, it depends of your ego and other extra goals you can have.
3) If your goals are to convert ads into money, leads, etc, those comments presumably will not convert, perhaps a handful, depending of your niche, but in general no.
4) If you’re promoting yourself as a developer of recipes, business coach, master on web design or whatever, etc then your comments are more than comments, you’re doing social-networking and may be the effort pay off – it’s up to you. Sure, an arsenal of quality logo promo products armed and ready to be passed out certainly helps too. However, for now, you’re building trust over you and the comments back could be part of your portfolio.
Lessons Learned about the Law of Reciprocity on Blog Commenting:
* Probably not everybody returned your comments, this is fact. Is it worth the efforts? I don’t know it depends, where you enter in the 1-4 points of before or perhaps you have other targets in mind.
* Remember also that you need to write, share posts of you and others, engage, read, to do marketing, SEO, copywriting and learn new tech skills often to go on increasing; this machine never stops!
* I assume and I bet you too, that you want to increase traffic and subscribers. Consequently more traffic, means also more human spam, more comments coming and phew…for how long will you be doing comments back?
You’ll have to take a moment for pondering this exponential-spiral: I comment over you – you comment on me. This is crazy and you’d stop it or you’ll be commenting and nothing more, or worst you’ll be totally burned out!
(Unless, you want a static blog that never grows and this phenomenon should not happen)
Hence my advice about the law of reciprocity is, do it but filtered, be extremely selective and really manage your time properly or you’ll be mad! As you see it’s a YES and NO, all together.
I started in this spiral unconsciously and stopped long time ago. As I explained on my blog commenting policy, I comment, when I can, perhaps back or not. Also only if the article is good or I’ve something to add, if not I move on.
Then, about commenting on other blogs, have your clear your goals in the long term blogging-strategy for your blog?
Social Networking Reciprocity
Let’s see examples of “real” offline life and move these concepts to the social reciprocity law.
You just meet new people in a party, business meeting, convention or a long trip. Now you’ve their business card, or perhaps their emails or phone numbers.
Are these persons your friends? NO, today! Why?
You can see immediately or as time goes by, that this could happen (and it happened to me):
# You’ve no mutual interests
# You’ve different timings, due to works, or because you’re nocturnal and the other is diurnal
# You’ve different tastes in almost everything
# You’ve different concepts of life or politics or whatever
No matter the first mutual contacts, you aren’t friends; real friendship can take some time. So, how you feel that if immediately after the first contact, this person bombards you with phone calls or goes to your home to sale something.
“Hey I’ve your data and I allowed social reciprocity law”. It sounds weird and disgusting, right? Then, why you allow the law of reciprocity online, indiscriminately?
Now we can these cases applicable to Twitter (but the same applies to Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, etc)
You receive a notification from Twitter that somebody is following you.
Are you going to apply the law of reciprocity? “Hey If I follow you, you’d follow me.”
Let’s see with some examples and tell me, why should you follow back to them?
These persons (or bots) are:
* Only tweeting their own links.
* Only tweeting random links about a theme.
* Has zero tweets and no bio.
* Never mention nobody, always tweeting about herself/himself
* Has a bio but I’m not interested at all, on the topics
* Only tweeting offers, typical of company without a social strategy in mind (really this is broadcasting)
and list go on and on…
Therefore, I repeat, why should you follow-back to them?
The only reasons I could imagine are:
* You know those persons from other social sites
* You know and are interested in what that company is offering
Both cases are valid and I could eventually follow them, but if not, I personally DON’T use the reciprocity law with them!
I know that not everybody think in that way and I respect other opinions. If you’re interested in following people that are not interested, at all, in what you tweet, it’s your call and eventually you can do it automatically.
See a screen-shot how Twitter Manage the Reciprocity Law
Extra problems of following indiscriminately is start seeing SPAM in your email via direct messages and if you’re not careful with those messages, your twitter account could be hacked (hundreds of account have been hacked before, because owners clicked on “wrong” links)
Regarding spam, Chris Brogan got tons of spams from emails via Twitter DMs and the reaction to cut the same, derived in his Twitter unfollow experiment, unfollowing thousands of accounts for that motive (trying to reduce spam). As an unexpected result, he experimented also the reciprocity law in action on different forms.
I think it’s more appropriated to talk about blogging collaborations between bloggers in social media, instead to meaningless following-backs that can lead to a reciprocity failure.
* You must be vigilant before entering in reciprocity.
* Study if you’ve something in common and not following unconditionally. Why would you follow if you don’t have anything in common?
Is the law of reciprocity valid in social media? YES an NO. It depends a lot of your goals and the way you see the world.
My own advice, utilize the law of reciprocity but classify, manage and be particularly careful when you are in that game, to avoid problems in the future. Don’t make these social mistakes!
Do you use the law of reciprocity often? In comments, in your social networking or both? I’d like to see your standpoints about this matter in comments!
Technorati Tag: Blogging