She's So Not Into You [with a correction - 02/17/09]
And the Oscar Goes To....This Year's Winning Promotions

The Reciprocity Rule

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia

One of our clients is having a tough time with her new blog. Let's call her Ingrid.

Last week, Ingrid wrote me a note to tell me how disappointed she was in the results she was getting from her blog (that's not yet two months old, by the way). She was wondering whether it was worth the time she was spending writing.


Ingrid is a well-respected expert in her industry. She's got great content. She writes well. And, she's got an  exciting way of communicating her thoughts.

So, what's wrong? A few things...the first of which is: Ingrid wasn't practicing The Reciprocity Rule.

Before we started working with Ingrid, I informed her that launching a blog isn't just about writing content.

The whole social media movement is built upon the premise of reciprocity - something I call The Reciprocity Rule. The Reciprocity Rule is, admittedly, a rip off of The Golden Rule.

C'mon, what does everyone want for their blog?

  • They want people to link to their blog posts - especially the ones that are interesting and generate good conversation.
  • They want people to comment - and comment thoughtfully.
  • They want people to "favorite" their content and add links to it on social bookmarking sites.

The Reciprocity Rule says that you do for others what you would want them to do for you. Simple.

If you want people to make intelligent comments on your blog. Take the time to leave intelligent (not self-serving) comments on someone else's blog. For every 5 posts on your blog, you should be posting a comment on someone else's blog.

If you want people to "digg" your content, "digg" someone else's content. Take a moment each week to shine a light on someone else besides youself. I can say this, my most remarkable week on Twitter (in terms of increased followers and people re-tweeting my tweets) was when I linked to a bunch of content written by other people.

Lather, rinse, repeat. And, expect to repeat this for some time. Most blogs don't get comments for months. Many times your readers will email you before they comment. You'll have to train (read: ask) them to put those same email comments into a comment on your blog. It takes time. It's simple, but it's not easy.

Now, getting back to Ingrid. When we first started talking about working with her, I informed her that she was going to need to devote time to celebrating content that other experts in different-yet-related industries would post. She agreed. Almost too quickly.

Not even two months later, she's unhappy with the results of her blogging experience. I went back through the notes of our conversation where we identified some good blogs for her to post comments. I asked if she had written one comment. "No," she replied. I went back to look at her blog posts. Not one of them contained links to anyone else's content. "Oh," she stammered. I logged into her "digg" account and she hadn't "dugg" anyone else's blog posts. And, that's when someone cued the crickets.

Creating a successful blog is possible, but it takes more than you and your content. I'm sure you've heard the expression "give to get"? With social media, you've gotta "give to give". Just for the heck of it - and like any good relationship, it'll come back to you. Promise.

Are you willing to come from behind your own content and publicly savor someone else's?


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Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades - Marketing to Women

Starting a blog is different from strategizing for its success. This post is an excellent reminder to not leave things to chance.

As a new blogger, I make a point to comment on at least three other sites per day. Does it take time? Yeah. Do I learn a ton while reading blogs like Lip-Sticking? Absolutely. Will it eventually pay off in my own blog traffic. YES.

Pat Morello

Thanks for the recap on all this, Lena. It's good to get a refresher once in awhile. I'm good at leaving comments, but will have to try the bookmarking and Diggs.
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings


thanks for the reminder that we are all connected - each one teach one, all of us learn

Lena L. West

@RosieAndDaisy: It has been my experience that business success in general is all about being in relationship with people and doing what it takes to develop those relationships.

@nancypub: I'm glad this information is helpful for you. I sent the link to one of my colleagues who just started a blog and she loved the content, too.

@AdWomen: It's all about keeping in touch!

Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting!


Terrific information. Success is always in the "marketing" isn't it. Even with blogging it appears.


I have just launched my own blog and am so grateful for this insight. Thanks for sharing.


I completely agree with you. A blog needs good contents, but also needs to be in touch with other people in the Internet.


Lena L. West


Thanks for the props -- and for reading and commenting! :)

Chris Thilk

Advice like this never gets old, whether you're talking about a new blog as in your example here or one that's been around for three years. A great summation of some important points.

Lena L. West

Hi Peggy:

Good for you! Thanks for second'ing my "recipe".

As well, for reading and commenting!

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