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Using the Norm of Reciprocity to Grow Your Business


When a friend or a stranger does something kind in your favor it’s only natural to feel the need to reciprocate kindness in return. Think about it. If someone tells you “have a nice day,” you’ll say the same in return or at minimum flash a smile or nod your head (or you’ll do nothing in return because you’re a complete jerk.) If another person does something nice for you there will be a cognitive dissonance until you return the favor in some way. Have you ever met someone that was overly nice? Someone that gave you so much it felt almost uncomfortable to not give something back?

When you’re trying to market online be it through a website, email marketing, or a social media strategy, it’s smart to use what psychologists call the Norm of Reciprocity.

The Norm of Reciprocity is a powerful social norm that dictates that we treat others as they have treated us- from “The Science of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini – 2001.

It’s simple human behavior. If I give you a cup of coffee without expecting anything in return it’s more likely than not that you’ll take time out of your day to speak with me. If I take that same cup of coffee and splash it in your face it’s likely that you’ll get angry and we’ll never do business together.

If this is true then why are so many of us asking for attention or a sale without showing kindness or interest in the first place?

If I want a blogger to backlink to my blog or allow a guest post, I may try and send an email with a request. The blogger may accept, deny, or ignore me, however it’s without question that my odds of succeeding are higher if I show interest beforehand. If I’ve spent time commenting regularly, retweeting posts, and have an already established dialogue going, it will be much easier to ask for a favor in the future.

Take a look at your website. If you’re trying to increase the time that visitors stay on your site or the likelihood that they will return in the future, it’s worthwhile to actually give them a reason to stick around. It can be a free ebook, a regularly updated blog, or an informative video.

When in doubt just give.

Give Give Give and Give some more.

A smart social media strategy is about listening and building relationships, not just broadcasting. Person to person conversations help build brand advocates and lifelong fans and customers.

There’s a lot of shouting happening online. How do you compete for attention?

Use the norm of reciprocity.

The more personalized you become, the more personalized attention you’ll receive.

Step 1. Be genuine
Step 2. Give
Step 3. Give some more

Along with being the social media accounts manager for Sparkplug Digital, Jason is also an all around super friendly nice person. You can reach him at jason@jasonmkey.com




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