Law of Reciprocity in Social Marketing

November 19, 2008

Social Marketing is not a one time action but a long term relationship with a community or a newly formed community.  What creates a community of any kind is the special bond, trust, relations that are formed between the members. These are all based on the simple yet powerful foundations of the Law of Reciprocity.

What is the Law of Reciprocity?
We have heard of it in many forms; “You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours”, “You reap what you sow”, “You get what you give” and so on. All basically with the same basic principle of getting back from the world what you give.

The social statement here is not to be taken lightly.
At a time when information is so easily available, where time is so short and where relationships seem to be ever more liquid, the value of strong trusting and lasting social ties of any kind is rising.

Just as the purpose of a strong search engine is to deliver relevant search results, a good social network tries to provide an effective platform for building and developing social ties. Social ties or relationships of any kind.

In terms of social marketing, there is no fudging. You need to become part of the community. You need to do more for others and hope that you get paid back when the time comes. Unlike many other form of online marketing (and we are numbers freaks) there are no hard and fast rules here. We can only look at the basics of the Law of Reciprocity and look at how we operate in the social web.

Social Exchange – We do for others and expect (assumption) that when the time comes they will do the same for you. Giving and receiving favors.

Everybody Goes Home in A Limousine – We want to feel good after any exchange and so does the partner. A successful relationship is a rewarding relationship.

Your Actions Value is Not Yours to Determine – actions don’t accumulate and 1 + 1 is not 2. What others perceive the value to be is the actual value.

Be Nice and Considerate – It’s a simple principle. Be considerate to the actions and requests of others. Respond to members of the community. Don’t demand reciprocity from others. Sometimes you will get less then what you expect and other times more then what you expect.

Value over Time – You do for others and the actions are often small but they accumulate over time and through courtesy, honesty and respect your relationships in the community blossom.

Reciprocity can be Positive or Negative – Doing harmful things to others will be returned and revenge is a terrible thing. So go back to the Be Nice principal.