Here I am in front of a Sequoia Tree in 1994

Keys to Being Social: Reciprocation

Side note:  If this were a blogging series, which maybe it should be, I’m starting out of order. Regardless, today I want to talk about the step beyond a thank you: reciprocation.

Giant Sequoias are the largest tree by volume and can grow to be very old – the oldest recorded is 3,500 years. These giants aren’t like the lone cypress; they live in communities of forests. One of the reasons they are able to grow so tall and so wide is because their root systems are interconnected.

Many times, especially on Twitter, people will go through growth spurts. At first, they’re happy for any followers, do somersaults for retweets, and always reply back. Then, as they’ve grown bigger, more often than not, they abandon those growth-producing behaviors because now they are too busy, have too many responses, or some other excuse.

This can leave you feeling very small.

These giants used their Twitter community to become a 279 foot tall, 26 wide Sequoia but want to be set free from their role and responsibility in the forest. The lack of response may have an adverse affect on the community and the interconnectedness they ignore.

Some of the trees they grew up with may feel resentment, betrayal, or just grief for the relationship loss their former friend, the lone Sequoia, has now outgrown.

I’ve noticed this trend over the years and, for some accounts, I’m totally unmotivated to continue to exist only to be their sycophant. In other words, I’m no longer willing to continually promote them with nothing in return. I may even unfollow those accounts.

Back to reciprocation:

Reciprocation is the basis of most relationships: I scratch your back, you scratch mine. And if this is done in an organic and natural way, it is a beautiful thing.

Reciprocation is the next step after a “thank you.” Don’t get me wrong, getting a “thank you” every once in a while is great. And one of the reasons why I respect Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee) on Twitter is because it isn’t just his philosophy to be social, but it continues to be his practice, though he has over a million followers.

“No tweet left behind. Everybody who tweets has to be responded to.” @GaryVee

Frankly, people could get back to the basics of good manners. A “thank you” or “you’re welcome” is great but an exchange (not spammy link building) of sharing is better.

What does reciprocation look like?

I felt like I was in a bit of a rut with @RigginsConst so I blogged about #EngageFriday as a challenge to myself and others. The premise is, instead of #FF shoutouts, to go back to my five most recent followers, and find one tweet to either retweet or reply to. This has been a great experiment because of the new seedlings of relationships, in the form of conversations, that have sprouted.

You may be overwhelmed, and maybe you are getting one hundred (or more) responses on Twitter a day. That can be overwhelming for sure. However, I bet you can find the time, if you truly want to.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take an extra five minutes to scroll through someone’s Twitter stream who retweeted you and find something to retweet or respond to. This could apply to blogs, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, etc.
  • Spend ten minutes in your “home” feed looking at other people’s content. Respond appropriately to three people.
  • Put people on lists so you can check out their tweets that are hours or even days old. This helps you stay in contact with the trees closest to you in the Social Forest.
  • Do you have frequent retweeters or mentioners? Put them on a special list (Twitter, Facebook), circle (G+). This may make it easier for you to also promote their content and engage with them.
  • Hire an intern (outsource) to manage your following, research, posting so that you can spend time engaging.
  • Use the time you’re waiting for a meeting, late person at lunch, movie to start to read over your social stream. In other words, audit your time. Figure out how you can spend it more wisely.
  • If you really can’t find the time to be social, don’t risk losing or offending your followers, outsource your social to someone you can trust.

What ideas do you have?

How do you reciprocate?

Do you unfollow people who abuse your fan loyalty?

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