Here’s a guide to how to be polite and maintain reciprocity on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your blog, so as to “leverage your social capital”, which actually just means make social media work for you and use sharing and friendliness to help yourself and others.
It’s all about reciprocity. What does that mean?
What is reciprocity?
The dictionary definition of reciprocity – is gaining mutual benefit from exchanging things with other people.
In the case of social media, in which I include blogging, as done well it should be a two-way and mutual activity, this means building strands of connection which can, over time, turn into powerful networks that can help you start, grow or develop your business or other endeavour.
By responding to comments and forging links, sharing and re-tweeting, you make yourself more prominent in other people’s eyes, for the right reasons.
If you are unfailingly polite, share people’s content, always say thank you, share people’s details with other people and act as an ambassador and connector for other people’s personal brands as well as your own, that will come back to you in bucketfuls.
Whether you’re just starting out, embracing a new form of social media, or need a gentle reminder (I know that writing this reminded me to return to sharing more on Twitter), I hope you find these tips useful.
Reciprocity on Twitter
- Always respond to @ comments that require a reply (i.e. they ask you a question or tell you about something).
- Always respond to RTs, Follow Friday mentions, etc., with a thank you Tweet.
- If someone recommends you to someone else, always a) thank the original person, b) make contact with the prospect – don’t wait for them to come to you.
- Take part in peer-group events like #watercoolermoment etc. to encourage the people who run them and engage with your peers – you are likely to find new, interesting people to follow and talk to.
- Retweet other people’s content if interesting to you / your followers. People often talk about the 80/20 rule – 8 retweets or shares of other people’s content via the social media sharing buttons on their blog posts to 2 promoting your own words or interests.
Note: Twitter works fast. Many people don’t see their whole stream, just snapshots through the day. If someone has seen your content and contacted you / shared, etc., try to thank them within 12 hours or less.
Use Twitter to forge links, have short conversations, support and encourage others and share content with your followers. People who you retweet will be more likely to retweet your posts. People who you recommend to others will remember the favour.
* not sure what I’m on about with all this talk of @ and RTs and followers and # signs? I’ll be putting together at Twitter 101 post to clear all that up soon!
Reciprocity on Facebook
This applies mainly to people using Facebook for their business, however it helps keep the wheels of general social interaction running smoothly, too!
- If someone asks a question on your business page or a business-related question on your own timeline, always respond. My business page doesn’t always alert me when I have a new comment – so keep checking yours to make sure you’re not ignoring someone!
- if someone sends you a Facebook message, always respond if it’s appropriate and meant for you, not spam.
- Check your “other” messages for messages from people who are not “friends” with you but are making genuine contact, and respond appropriately.
- If people comment on your status updates, “like” their comments and engage with them.
- If people share your status updates, “like” the share and say thank you publicly or privately.
- If people recommend you via Facebook, thank the recommender and contact the prospect as soon as you can
- Share other people’s content.
- Like business pages as yourself and as your business (click on cog next to message).
- If you join groups of peers, people in the same business, people who are also self-employed, etc., join in with the group once you’re there, help other people and don’t either relentlessly self-promote or stay silent.
Facebook works on friendship and commonality. Share your peers’ posts and you’ll build up a network of people who will recommend, help and support you.
Reciprocity on blogs
I’m including blogs in social media because the best blogs that work well for businesses and people who want a “successful” blog are those that engage in two-way conversation, share content and link people together. Sounds like social media to me!
- On your own blog, mention and link to people who have helped, advised or inspired you.
- ALWAYS reply to comments. If you don’t have time to reply to each individually, at least put up a thank you and a mention to the most important ones.
- Keep an eye on your search statistics and respond to what your readers are looking for (e.g. I noticed people were searching for “comment boxes too large” so added new blog post about that).
- If people like and comment on your blog, pop over to their blog and scatter a few comments and likes if you find their content interesting.
- Use those social media buttons on other people’s blogs to share their content – and make sure you enable the ones on your blog to allow and encourage people to share.
- Engage with other bloggers especially in your industry sector or area of interest – comment, share, etc.
- Offer guest post spots on your blog for other people to contribute content.
- If you give someone a guest blog spot, make sure that you include all their links as well as a little biography about them. Make it easy for people to find them.
- If you place a guest post on someone else’s blog, make sure that you give them all of your links to include, and talk about it as much as possible on your other social media channels.
Blogs can be a powerful way to meet people, link with people, learn from people and get your content shared around the world.
Reciprocity on LinkedIn
- When you link to someone, change the standard message to a personal one, maybe reminding them where you met or making another tailored comment. Some people get quite annoyed with the standard messages and might even ignore then on principle, so it’s worth making that extra effort.
- Introduce people who you think would be useful to each other.
- Press that endorse button and give your contact some more stats.
- Use the recommend feature if you’ve worked with someone to place some feedback on their profile, LinkedIn displays how many recommendations you’ve made, and everyone wants to work with someone who’s generous with feedback and honest praise.
- If someone endorses or recommends you, or introduces you to a third party, send them a message to say thank you.
- Join groups and share content kindly and generously.
- When you join a group, get to know people and comment on other posts and questions before you start self-promoting.
- if a group seems to be full of spam and self-promotion and no discussion and mutual encouragement, leave it alone – you won’t be able to change it and it’ll just annoy you. But learn what not to do from that!
LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for IT and other business people, with most recruiters looking for a LinkedIn profile these days. Make sure that your full CV is on there, and a good photo.
Reciprocity on Google+
Google+ works much like Facebook, in that you can +1 posts, make comments etc. The major point about Google+ is that if you share your content and others’ on there, Google will pick up on it that little bit quicker to add it to its search engine. So it’s worth engaging on there even if it isn’t as busy or active as the other networks (or maybe it is in your field?)
Reciprocity on Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.
I’ve talked here about points regarding social media networks that I use. I don’t know much about Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. If you have points like the above to share on these, please pop them in the comments or send them to me via my Contact Form, and I’ll include them in this post (with an attribution of course!).
This article should help you to grasp the conventions of reciprocity in social media. If you’ve enjoyed it or found it useful, and think that other people will, too, please take a moment to share it using the buttons below or by sharing any alert you might see on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Thank you!
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