The Law of Reciprocity on Social Media
Simply stated, the law of reciprocity looks like this – If I do something for you, you’ll do something for me. This is a not necessarily conscious, very powerful human inclination that’s helpful for you to be aware of in the context of using social media to best effect.
My experience with social media goes right back to 2004 when Facebook was first launched. Over the last 16 years I’ve observed people using it well and not so well from the point of view of building new connections, and deepening rapport with existing ones.
With the perspective I have from working with people to build their people skills and confidence, I can see that not using social media strategically is a lost opportunity. So when I’m working with people who have no experience, or very little experience with social media, I give them the following tips to get the most out of the time they invest online.
- Like– The like button that you’ll find on most social media channels is a big rapport building tool that is often overlooked. When you like or comment on a connection’s post, immediately they will feel supported. And if the law of reciprocity kicks in as it should, they are more likely to support you back by liking your posts in return. That is not as important as the fact that they will notice that you have supported them, but it is another positive outcome to keep in mind.
- Share– Sharing other peoples’ posts is another way to deepen your connection with them.
- Tagging– Tagging is a wonderful way to attract the attention of someone you’ve met that you’d like to get to know better. For example let’s say that you’ve taken a photo of a group of people you’re interacting with at a networking event. Once you’ve upload the image on whatever social media channel you’re using, tagging everyone that you connected with is a great way to remind them of you, and signal that you value being connected with them.
- Replying and Commenting – Replying to a comment that someone has left on one of your own posts, and commenting on other peoples’ posts, is a great way to build engagement and thereby deepen rapport and connection.
- Acknowledging friends – There is the tool on Facebook that makes it easy to celebrate the anniversary of a friendship by way of automatic yearly reminders that pop up in your newsfeed. Reposting the automated post with a tribute to your friend will allow you to acknowledge the high regard that you hold that person in.
- Birthdaywishes – This is another thing that Facebook does particularly well. The system will automatically remind you when one of your friend is having a birthday, so that you can post a birthday message on their timeline. This is a very small but meaningful gesture that you can make which will reinforce and deepen your connection with the person in question.
- Memories– There is also a facility whereby memories pop up in your Facebook feed at regular intervals. You can share these with thoughtful messages whenever the memory includes another person. This is just another way of acknowledging the connection that you have with the person.
- Work Anniversaries and/or promotions– There is a facility within LinkedIn that generates messages whenever one of your connections is having a work anniversary or starting in a new position. This is a great way to remind that person of the esteem you hold them in by celebrating with them by way of a congratulatory message.
Sam Lee is a Social Confidence Coach and the author of “The Social Way” and the new book “Connect With Confidence”.