If you’re a member of any of the many groups on Linkedin, you may have seen a thread inviting members to ‘like’ a fellow member’s Facebook page.
In exchange, the owner of the page will like the pages of participating members back.
Similar campaigns have been floated for folks to follow one another on Twitter.
These types of initiatives operate on the honor system, with participants adding their respective Facebook URLs or Twitter handles only after they’ve like fellow participants’ pages.
I’ve participated in a few of these exchanges (purely for investigative purposes).
But I had to stop once I started seeing status updates of dog walkers, podiatrist and various other nondescript entities and individuals I didn’t really know, popping up on my Facebook page and inside my Twitter feeds.
While the idea was good, the end result left much to be desired.
Now you must know that there is a certain etiquette underpinning initiatives such as these in social media.
It’s the principle of reciprocity.
Essentially, the principle of reciprocity dictates that one good turn deserves another.
It started with Twitter.
When I first joined Twitter, they actively promoted reciprocal following.
If someone followed you, the proper protocol was that you followed that person back.
When you only had a few followers, reciprocity seemed like a great idea.
Simply by trolling through Twitter, you could follow a whole bunch of folks and (with the etiquette of reciprocity) have them follow you back.
But finding and following people on Twitter was a manual, labor intensive process.
You had to find an follow cats one at a time.
Boo hiss! Who has time for all that?
Then services like TweetSpinner came and changed the game.
TweetSpinner (and services like it) allowed you to automate the find-and-follow process, which could only heretofore, be done manually.
Simply plug in a few keywords and search filters, and voila! you had a whole list of like-minded folks, which you could follow, en masse.
Even if only a small fraction of them followed you back, the ratio with which you were identifying and following meant that you could grow your followers exponentially faster than you ever could before.
Soon Twitter found its numbers exploding as users scurried about trying to build larger and larger followings.
Ashton Kucher famously challenged CNN to see who could reach one million followers first.
Not to be left out in the cold, Facebook also encouraged social reciprocity.
Facebook went from fans to ‘likes’ and soon everywhere you looked, folks were liking each others’ pages (and content within pages).
Someone puts up a picture, video, song or clever statement, what do we do?
Like it, of course.
Get a favorable comment from someone, what do you do in return?
Like their comment, what else?
Liking has become such an important commodity, that brands have been dropping like widgets on everything they produce.
Email newsletters, digital flyers, event pages, you name it.
The concept of liking has become so pervasive, numerous white papers have been devoted to the subject.
Still, many are unsure of the value of ‘like’ currency.
But I believe that it’s a good measure of a brand’s stickiness.
While there may not be a lot of data to support the relationship between Likes and conversion rates, it’s clear that brands that interact with their audience (as defined by the folks who have liked your page) derive some benefit from the exchange.
A trend thats starting to gain traction, is the concept of paying it forward.
#followfriday, retweets, re-pins, shares are all examples of the ways cats are paying it forward online and in social media.
Adding new content and keeping your pages fresh give folks a reason to visit, re-publish your information and like your page.
Now get out there and like somebody!