The Rule of Reciprocity & Social Media Need Not Apply

The Rule of Reciprocity is Simple:

Someone gives, you give back. It’s a rule in most, if not all, cultures. We grow up being taught to do it and sometimes it’s so engrained in us, we do it out of habit. Like when the cashier at the gas station says, “Have a nice day!” and you say, “You too!” By the way, you are under no obligation to have a nice day.

The Rule is Reciprocity is give and take. NPR has an awesome article about it that I highly recommend. What NPR doesn’t say is that sometimes we screw it up:

By the way, I’m a Pepsi guy…don’t hold it against me.

Social Behavior Gets Screwy on Social Media

Where it really gets screwy (not in the Brain Regan sort of way) is with social media. The rules of real life do not apply. It seems that social media has redefined the ‘social’ part of life, at least online. Since The Rule of Reciprocity is a social behavior and social behavior is slowly being redefined, the Rule does not have the same meaning. Our social behavior behind the keyboard and fingers (or thumbs you mobile freaks) is vastly different.

This is not to say that the Rule of Reciprocity is completely missing from social media, it’s not. It’s just not the same.

Hey Marketers

Marketers take note: don’t try to fit the social behaviors of real life into the mold of social media. It doesn’t seem to fit. Plus, as your audiences grow, the social rules we go by in real life don’t scale easily to all the likes, follows and retweets you’re no doubt expecting.

How the Social Rules Differ On Social Media:

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Rule of Reciprocity & Social Media

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