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The Magic Word For Social Media Marketing

I want to share one of my favorite words with you. It has magical properties for social media. And it reminds me of a certain Lauryn Hill song that was probably my introduction to its definition, in all its universal glory*

The word: Reciprocity.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary primarily defines reciprocity as “the quality or state of being reciprocal: mutual dependence, action, or influence.”

But I enjoy a fragment of the second definition as well: “a mutual exchange of privileges…” When it comes to social media marketing, I approve of this definition. It points to the validity of our efforts on Facebook, through Twitter dialogue, and in other channels of exchange of content and ideas online, to bring about brand awareness. So long as we all participate, we can all win.

Reciprocity in Social Media Marketing

What you put in with social media is what you will get out. That is reciprocity. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Whether it’s Twitter or Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn, the game is the same. You simply must engage with the beast to gain its approval.

Think about your personal Facebook page. It feels good to have friends posting videos on your wall, “Liking” your new profile picture, commenting on your status updates.  You can bet that they contract the same warm fuzzies from your attention to their profiles.

Taking whatever you desire from social media, and giving it back to others, will spread the good vibes.

With your own content, give and then get:

So let’s take it to the professional social media scene. Use reciprocity as a persuasion tactic, as Neil Patel from suggests. You can give away downloadable ebooks through your website, and ask the recipients to return the favour by following your business on Twitter or Facebook. As Top Dog Social Media contributor Melonie Dodaro says:

“It is so deeply ingrained in that we need to give back for any good deeds that have been done for us”.

Use this urge to your advantage. Provide value, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get in return.

With others content, get and then give:

When a tweet appears in your feed that is valuable, informative, and relevant to your audience, retweet it. Retweet unabashedly, with mindful understanding of the specific viewership. Their tweet’s just created value for your readers, and you’ve given the tweet’s author more reach. This applies for all social platforms where Liking, favoriting, sharing, and re-tweeting content provides visibility to the author.

If bloggers in your industry are asking questions in their articles, reply in the comment section with something thoughtful. The fantastic aspect of reciprocal social media interaction is the benefits both parties enjoy. With blog comments, you’re given the chance to give your company an intelligent voice within the online community, and the blogger gets higher traffic, and encouragement to write more.

“Like” other Facebook pages. Do more than that. Comment on pictures, participate in conversations. It will bring users back to you.


Reciprocity just sounded like a delicious word to me, before I realized its value for successful social media marketing. Now, it’s one treasure of a word. Glad I could share it.

Why not put your new lesson to task? Comment here and let me know how you’re going to use reciprocity in your social media strategy! Or just say hi.

Dodaro, Melonie. “The Power of the Law of Reciprocity in Social Media.” 6 December 2011.
Patel, Neil. “6 Ways to Be More Persuasive With Social Media.” 16 November 2011.

*The song “Ex-Factor” is from Lauryn Hill’s seminal solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Look into it!

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