Too often brands forget social media is actually social, not a passive broadcast platform. Even now, after there have been so many best practice articles and tips that emphasize the need to be social. Resources, mainly time, are a huge issue, but brands absolutely must make this a priority.
Most of my work is in the advocacy, nonprofit and organization bubble. People inside this bubble know there are always too many things to do and never enough time, money or people. When you have ten tasks on your plate vying for the same hour of your day, and you can realistically do at most 5 of them, you triage: what is bleeding the most and has the best chance of survival?
Nearly any industry can identify to some degree with this; we all struggle to balance what needs to be done with resources to do it, and still manage to go home and sleep at night.
Regardless, it’s absolutely crucial to prioritize being interactive in social media. Not doing so is costing you–your social media presence is hemorrhaging opportunities and ROI–and doing so boosts your chances of survival and success online.
Why social media reciprocity is important
Although we all know what this word means, it’s important to see and carefully consider the actual definition: the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.
In social media, we exchange tweets, posts, links, and comments. Bottom line? You need to do this. Daily. Respond to every mention that is reasonable to do so. Retweet and share content from friends and allies. Thank those who retweeted your content.
I always include reciprocity in my strategies for clients and in my training. Very often, I help clients begin their online efforts. I am regularly surprised how few organizations like content from fellow organizations; how frequently tweets we tag them in are simply ignored; how rarely shared content is liked or commented upon.
Fellow organizations and community members are important! Acknowledge them!
Although sometimes some companies are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of pieces of content coming at them, usually most have a significantly smaller presence and are more likely dealing with tens of pieces of content.
Even if you only interact with a fraction of the content, any effort is a good sign from your organization. Consistently practicing replying and reciprocity means eventually you will connect with those who connect with you. These people are your community, not your audience.
When you create a 5 hour/week plan for social media, include ten minutes per day dedicated to replying and reciprocity.
You can manage these 3 simple tasks in those 10 minutes per day:
- Check @ mentions, shares, comments and direct messages on each of your social platforms. Respond to these.
- Check and respond to RTs and shares as appropriate. Tools such as sumall can make this easier.
- Use each social media platform as your brand, and share, retweet, repin, comment, and otherwise engage with content other post. This also means finding new friends to follow and connect with.
The benefits you can reap through social media reciprocity:
- The asset of social capital, which includes trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation. http://www.bettertogether.org/socialcapital.htm
- The benefit of listening, which includes learning what people are talking about and what interests them, which can help you refine your content strategy.
- The advantage of expanding your network, enabling you to reach more people and connect with more communities.
- The gift of stronger, more meaningful communications with your community.