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Reciprocity: The Backbone Of Social Marketing

This post was most recently updated on February 23rd, 2014

Reciprocity is the act of responding to others in like fashion.  Social reciprocity is a manner of response to the behavior of others. So what does this have to do with Internet Marketing?  EVERYTHING!  When engaged in social media, reciprocity is the backbone of marketing. It’s an informal exchange of ideas and recognition that benefits both the giver and receiver of social media interactions.

Here’s how it works.  You have your social sites set up, i.e. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Linked-in, etc.  When someone visits one of your social sites, it is wise to check out who they are before you accept their comments.  I say this because you it is important to have people in your niche who are sharing good content and employing social marketing etiquette.  You want to filter out those who are just linking away from your site to their own self-serving, spam sales page.

That being said, when you click on “add as a friend” or “follow” on any of your social media sites, it is a very wise idea to dig one step deeper and go to their blog.  Make an intelligent comment.  Never say “great post!”  That means nothing.  People might think you are on an automated system.   Personally, I am not a fan of automated replies.  I like to get to know the person. When you put in a reply and maybe even tweet it, your new friend  will usually respond with the same.  He or she will go to your blog and reciprocate.

Reciprocity Is Just Like A Dance

This is the beginning a business relationship, or even friendship.  You reply and maybe share it on your Facebook, or Twitter.  This will go to level two in your friendship.  Remember that Social Media is just that… Social.  You connect socially through this process of reciprocity. It’s almost like a dance. They take one step, you follow.  You take another, they follow.

So many people have come into my sales funnel this way.  Strangers at first, but I took the first step and dug a little deeper into who they were.  Then another step, inviting them to my list.  I try to keep it balanced also.  By this I mean I go to sites that are the Gurus of internet marketing, but I also spend a lot of time with Newbies.

Reciprocity is really a natural part of human nature.  It is a social norm of responding to the behavior of others.  It is a way of people’s informal exchange.  The majority of people will respond to you.  If not, perhaps they’re just not ready to dance along.

You may be thinking that this gal is nuts!  She is spending all that time digging, searching, etc.   But this is what social media is all about.  If you are doing PPC or PPV, that’s great too.  You can do that in conjunction with your social media.  But think about this:  How long does it take you to set up a campaign with a sales page, auto-responders, email lists that you have to respond to and eventually get on a webinar or phone call together.   That is a wonderful mechanism, and I’ve found that it is greatly facilitated by Social Networking because people are not such strangers once you’ve asked them to dance.  You’re now a trusted friend, not just a salesperson.

I believe in the goodness of human nature and if trained properly, the people I reach out to will respond back.  I have built my list on this alone. I feel like it’s a process that has helped me to acquire, not just opt-ins and prospects, but “friends”  –  isn’t that what we call them on our social networks?  Friends, not prospects.

So take this into consideration when you are out there trying to add numbers to your list.  Do you want quality or quantity?  I chose quality, because from a handshake one can make true friendships and reveal who we are and what we can do to join forces.  Again… it all comes down to Reciprocity.


Thank you for visiting my blog.  Your responses are important to me because I analyze feedback both positive and negative.  This is how I grow.  Many thanks

Donna Merrill
Donna is a well known blogger and creator of "Blogging Magic" - an intensive guide to blogging. "Blogging Magic" is for beginners who are trying to figure out how to bring their blogs to life with tons of visits, comments and social media interaction. It's even for advanced bloggers looking to reach new levels of authority and engagement with their audience.

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40 Responses to Reciprocity: The Backbone Of Social Marketing

  1. admin August 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Hey Jaden, Good to see you here. Yes, clean up time is always good. If you don’t chase after the numbers, you will find that you will have a great sales funnel.

  2. Jaden Daniels August 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Hey Donna,
    I have been making that mistake. I need to clean up my friends list on Facebook and Twitter. I have been just accepting friends never digging deeper. Thanks for the advice.
    .-= Jaden Daniels´s last blog ..Addictions…You Can Overcome Them =-.

  3. Richard Goutal August 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Hello Donna. I recently was speaking with an author of a book on networking. She also stressed how reciprocity can be your friend. Handing out a biz card at an event can be a turn-off. But suppose I am talking with someone I find interesting and would like to give them my card. Don’t! Instead, say, “If you have a crd with you, I’d love to have it to keep in touch.” The law of reciprocity being what it is, the other may well say, “Oh, could I have your card too?” On a more significant level, if I provide a referral to another business person, good chance they will refer business to me if they should have the opportunity. It’s like The Go-Giver book. So great topic, and good reminder!
    .-= Richard Goutal´s last blog ..My Big NICHE Mistake =-.

    • admin August 10, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

      Yes, Richard that is a perfect analogy. We must make the first step to take the lead of the dance. Because when it comes down to it, that is what it is. In my brick-and-mortar business I have for 30 years, that was the backbone of my success. I always gave more of my services than people paid for. They spread the news and I never spent a penny on advertising. All I did was go the extra mile, and people appreciated it. I apply these principles to my one line marketing and am amazed how many wonderful people there are!

  4. Brenda Freeman
    August 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post and thoroughly agree with you regarding quality. Prior to becoming involved with the internet, I was a small business coach, and the biggest lesson that my clients could learn was to understand their market. It is no different on the internet. Not everyone is your market. Qualify and concentrate.

    Especially liked your thoughts on reciprocity. Great minds can create great things together.

    • Dona Merrill August 10, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

      Thank you so much Brenda. As a coach myself, I can never stop stressing the importance of Reciprocity! It is in the giving that we receive.
      Thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog site.
      .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..My Secret Dream… Revealed =-.

  5. Dona Merrill August 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    I believe that if we take the first step, others will follow. It is like spreading the love!
    .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  6. Janette Stoll August 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Great stuff, Donna! Reciprocity is what makes everything in flow. It’s really impossible not to respond to kindness and if everyone chooses kindness, in the words we use towards ourselves and others, the world would be a much better place.

    .-= Janette Stoll´s last blog ..Direct sales success- ways to challenge yourself to a new experience =-.

  7. Danielle Zack August 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    I LOVE the analogy of Dancing. 🙂 That’s really what it is. Learning to move back and forth in the relationship and getting more comfortable with one another. The more I simply try to get to know others without any prospecting involved, the more new doors and opportunities open up through the new relationships. Thank you Donna for the great message and the wonderful way you explained it! 🙂

    You’re Awesome!

    .-= Danielle Zack´s last blog ..The Formula To Freedom =-.

    • Dona Merrill August 7, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

      Yes, Danielle Life is like a dance isn’t it? We need to dance before we go further in a relationship. It may take a while, but as we get to know people, we are building trust and friendship. We may sign up with them or vice-versa. That’s what its all about!
      .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  8. Nick Logan August 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    Wow! 28 comments! You are the model for reciprocity. I typed in “Blogging for Beginners” in google alerts. I went and checked out some of the blog sites that were talking about that topic. YOUR blog is so much more professional and jammed packed with Valuable content than anything I’ve found out there…
    .-= Nick Logan´s last blog ..Finding Strength In Adversity…A True Story =-.

    • admin August 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

      Thanks so much Nick, I really appreciate your encouraging words. I enjoyed your last blog too…You Rock!

  9. Dona Merrill August 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    Y bring out wonderful points here Omar, as you always do! It is so important to me to read someone’s blog before commenting or syndicating it. I am not a fan of automated responses.
    Here one by one, we can get to know each other better and benefit from the learning process of other’s blogs.
    .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  10. Omar Estrada August 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Hi Donna!

    Great that you bring this point!

    I can´t understand why sometimes people think that, being Internet an extension of society, it will work in a different way than traditional society works.

    Social means in society,being part of the community. It involves all the dynamics of communication and interaction that any society demands, reciprocity being one of the most important of them.

    Internet is just “a bigger” society, an extended one… so, time to be aware of how we offer ourselves in this context.

    Great post!

    .-= Omar Estrada´s last blog ..MARKETING MÓVIL Estadísticas y Estrategias =-.

  11. Marco Amaro August 6, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    Hola Donna!

    You make me remember an old song “You get what you give” from The New Radicals. This is so true… you give something good, you’ll receive the same sooner or later.

    But you know, you receive more when you do something for someone else and you’re not expecting to get something back. At least, that’s my experience!

    .-= Marco Amaro´s last blog ..Como Hacer Negocios Por Internet Parte III – Conectando Dominio Con Hosting =-.

    • admin August 6, 2010 at 3:38 am #

      I never expect anything back when giving because it wouldn’t be giving at all – it would be trading. Wouldn’t it?
      Thank you for visiting my blog Marco.

  12. Raisa Garrido August 5, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Hi Donna,
    I love this topic.
    As you, I also believe in the goodness of human nature, and I also believe that almost all the time we will receive what we give, so I give from the heart.
    Thanks for sharing

    • admin August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am #

      Yes, Raisar when giving from your heart unexpected gifts come your way.

  13. admin August 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    How True Magali,

    One can never loose by giving from the heart. Even as you say a smile. It is those little daily things that makes the magic happen.


  14. Karla Setchel August 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Hey Donna,

    Thanks for your wonderful insights. I still consider myself one of the “newbies” so your teachings are greatly appreciated 🙂
    Karla Setchel
    .-= Karla Setchel´s last blog ..Another Helpful Technique for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue =-.

  15. Magali Delgado August 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi Donna

    I believe in reciprocity, in fact most of the time you get someone smile a smile in response, and if we all did the same thing would be nice no?
    I can tell you that 90% get it back but I recognize that there is a 10% turning, people who know the end thank, reward, etc etc, but not by the minority would no longer practice it.

    .-= Magali Delgado´s last blog ..Dirige tráfico a tu página de fans de facebook =-.

  16. Michaelé Harrington August 5, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    Hi Donna,

    I love this topic! It really fits in with the conversations I’ve been having lately about the incredible relationships and friendships I’ve built through reciprocity.
    I’ve never once helped someone out online with the mindset that I might get something back. But what happens time and time again is people freely want to give back, thats just human nature. It always surprises me that whilst you might be helping someone who is totally new to one aspect of online marketing, they are a complete expert in another area.

    This is hugely powerful as through freely giving, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a tribe of people with different areas of expertise, who are just champing at the bit to help you in whatever way they can!

    Over time this just builds and builds and creates an incredibly supportive energy.

    .-= Michaelé Harrington´s last blog ..3 Key Reasons Your Network Marketing Team Might Not Be Duplicating =-.

    • admin August 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

      Thank you Michaele,

      Freely giving is were its at for me. I live my life that way. Many people sometimes say to me “Donna…you are such a schmuck!” But I give freely and then the magic happens.

  17. Edward August 5, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Thanks for sharing this with us all.
    I believe that we get what we give and the more that we give the bigger the get will be in return. All of us are created to be givers although some where along the line most people forget the simple concept of You get by Giving. That is what came to mind as I read your post today. Thanks again for sharing it with us all. Make it a great day! God Bless!
    .-= Edward´s last blog ..Share Your DREAM Friday – with Special Guest Dreamer Chris Marsh! =-.

    • admin August 5, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Edward, I really appreciate it. Giving is so simple. It is right in front of you every day. Being AWARE of that, one can help someone in the grocery store, share time with a stranger, etc. If we are on that constant energy of giving, we, as the law of attraction always states, create the same.
      God Bless You Too

  18. Dona Merrill August 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    Thank You Jose! I have run a highly successful business for about 30 years based on giving. Giving extra time, going the extra mile, etc. My clients have been with me and recommended me. I never spent one penny on advertising. The same applies here on Internet Marketing.
    .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  19. Jose H. Caraballo August 4, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    This is the basis for many a successful company or business. Without reciprocity, we would only have our own efforts and as most REALLY successful people know, “we can’t do it alone”.

    There is strength in numbers and quality numbers are even better.

    Thanks for sharing Donna I think this is a great reminder.
    .-= Jose H. Caraballo´s last blog ..One Item a Day…At Least =-.

  20. Anthony Joseph Dublino August 4, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Hello Donna,

    Nice article and interesting story. I learned about reciprocity from Rav Berg and the teachings of the Kabbalah Center. It is said that Hillel when explaining the entire meaning of life while standing on one foot said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself, and the rest is commentary.”

    I wrote a book on how a company can improve cash flow in an emergency, and give it away for free. I am developing a site for advertising turnaround business cases for consultants, so that companies without money can get some advice.

    My wife and I also run a marketing company for 13 years, called procreative.com, and find ourselves building a number of services for professional companies to use with social media. So thank you for the inspiring message.

    All the best,
    Anthony Joseph Dublino

    My blog on turnaround is at .theturnaroundsystem.com .

    • admin August 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

      Hi Anthony, I appreciate your comment. I live by “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and that is exactly what reciprocity is.

  21. David A Haines August 4, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    Hi Donna, “Great Post!” ha ha

    I learned about the Law of Reciprocity from Brian Tracy. Here’s what he has to say about it:
    One of the great laws of life is the “Law of Reciprocity.” This law says that people always try to pay you back for anything that you do, either to or for them. In a positive sense, it means that whenever you do something nice for another person, you create within that other person a sense of obligation. Since no one likes to be under an obligation to another, the other person will do everything possible to free themselves from this sense of obligation by paying you back, usually by giving you far more than you contributed originally.

    Now that you’ve confirmed it with your awesome post, it must be true!

    Thanks again,

    David Haines
    (215) 268-6696 Anytime!
    .-= David A Haines´s last blog ..The Biggest Network Marketing Secret Revealed! =-.

    • Dona Merrill August 4, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

      Yes, my friend it is true. Giving without receiving in mind is the best. When we give from our hearts, it is always returned. I had a client 20 years ago and then she fell into financial ruin. I told her that she could still call me with no charge, because she needed me now more than ever. She never forgot those day and has been a loyal client ever since. That is just one tiny example. Sometimes we give and the later we receive something from another place. Always connect the dots.
      .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  22. Tim Colletti August 4, 2010 at 3:24 am #

    Hi Donna,

    Reciprocity has been around for a long time. Give, and you will receive. Our Tribe group is doing plenty of that.

    ~ Tim
    .-= Tim Colletti´s last blog ..Back To The Basics – Registering A Domain Name =-.

  23. Mary Lou Kayser August 4, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    Hi Donna,
    Reciprocity is indeed at the heart of social media success, not to mention human success! Giving will result in getting, and not in a self-serving way, either. When your intentions are clear and purposeful, giving is so natural, it’s impossible not to share with others! I would rather get to know a few people on a deep quality basis than have a million “friends” I know nothing about. This post showcases why quality will always trump quantity every time.
    Mary Lou
    .-= Mary Lou Kayser´s last blog ..Extraordinary Personal Branding- Do You Know the MLM Mobster =-.

  24. admin August 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    You are doing well Christine. Many people chase the numbers game. But where does it really get them? I rather have someone I can get to know..dance the dance with and either have them on my list, or share with them my affiliates, and some I have even worked with on projects.
    Be the leader Christine! Tell your FB friends what to do and how to do it. Give information out. You can’t lose!
    Thanks for your comment.

  25. Christine Casey August 3, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    Hi Donna,

    Your post gave me something to stop and really think about…which is most important to me, quantity (number of followers/friends) or quality (meaningful, beneficial, real relationships). I definitely choose QUALITY over QUANTITY! Your post was perfect timing for me to read as I had begun to let doubt creep in a little because, since starting with FB, Twitter, etc. in January of this year, I have lately wondered if I was doing something wrong because, compared to some out there in social media, I have relatively low numbers. So, besides the fact that I had to rationalize that its only been a little over six months since starting my journey, I’ve also been pretty selective about who I choose to “friend” or “follow”, exactly for the reasons you mentioned in your post. I appreciate you sharing as it’s helped me to realize what’s truly important to me, and that my lower numbers are perfectly okay 🙂

    .-= Christine Casey´s last blog ..How do you use Facebook =-.

  26. Dona Merrill August 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    Thanks Val, So would I. The energy is amazing isn’t it!
    .-= Dona Merrill´s last blog ..Reciprocity- The Backbone Of Social Marketing =-.

  27. Val Wilcox August 3, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    Wonderful post about giving back and sharing. The friendships I have formed through comments and connections are awesome! I love the energy I receive through it. I will take quality over quantity any day.

    Love it,
    Val 🙂
    .-= Val Wilcox´s last blog ..Opening Doors Within =-.

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