The Benevolent Acts of Reciprocity and Recognition


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I believe if Social Media warranted a mantra, it would look something like this, “Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back…it’s how you got here and it defines where you’re going.”

This is the credo I live by and something that has only been reinforced as part of my daily regiment, online and in the real world.

Paying it forward and paying it back is the balladry of reciprocity, the undercurrent of social media and the currency of the social economy. The words, “what comes around goes around” and the overall spirit of karma reminds us that there may be personal rewards and satisfaction for helping and contributing more than we take away from our environment.

In sociology, this form of alternative giving is referred to as “generalized reciprocity” or “generalized exchange.” In the same vein, the idea of giving something to one person by paying another is credited to Benjamin Franklin, which would ultimately serve as the defining foundation to “Pay it forward.”

According to the book, “The Support Economy“, by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxin, corporations are failing individuals and the next episode of capitalism. The book speaks to the hopes and dreams of the modern individual and serves as a call to action for innovators across business, technology, social enterprise, and the public sector.

In a support or “social” economy, we are presented with an opportunity to showcase not only our own expertise, vision, thought leadership, artistry, or ideas, but also those of others.

It’s the power and unsaid significance behind a retweet on Twitter, a “like” on Facebook, the friending or following of someone to extend a social graph. It’s also expressed through the explicit act of commenting on posts and updates, engaging in online conversation, sharing the contributions of others as well as linking. These acts serve as the currency of social media.

It is through the dynamics of collaborative elevation that the true infrastructure for the creation of presence is fortified. In the process, we proactively exchange privacy for online recognition as we define our web persona.

In today’s social economy, it is our social, not financial capital that defines our stature across the landscape of social networks represented through the relationships we cultivate and establish. It’s the difference between curation and promotion, learning and ignorance, publishing and absorbing.

There is a balance required to engage, contributing as much or more value than you withdraw from each interaction.

The Social Web is powered not by self-promotion, but by the value of the community and the selfless act of recognizing, showcasing, and connecting the great people, content, and causes around us. And with it comes great purpose.

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  • http://twitter.com/franchipane franchipane / Magras

    Favors ? Privileges ? However it should be a mutual or cooperative interchange

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Indeed…attention is a privilege and not an entitlement.

  • http://negotiationlawblog.com/ Vickie Pynchon

    It's the difference between attraction and promotion. Thanks for this. As well or better said than I've seen to date.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Vickie, I appreciate that. Thank you…

  • stealingkitty

    It is articles such as these or when we hear your voice, Brian that speak more of a truth and the under current that is social media. This is incredibly insightful and conveys a truth that I think BIG company need to listen to in todays market. Also, it isn't just about company but the sharing of social relevance and information that will further define us and our social personas. Thank you for sharing your visionary insights.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Thank you…you're absolutely right. :)

  • http://bournesocial.com bournesocial

    What a great post on the cusp of Thanksgiving, when we gather round the table to show thanks for all of the blessings we've received. Like social media, for the most part Thanksgiving is a secular activity celebrated by people of all colors and creeds. Perhaps the true meaning of the holiday is warped by our popular culture into a day of overindulgence and the gateway to holiday shopping season. In that sense, social media is always going to be challenged by those who wish to profit by it. So, here's hoping that reciprocity will continue to reign and that social media, like the holiday, will stay true to itself. Pay it forward – pass the cranberries!

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Cheers!

    • http://www.facebook.com/ABCsofConflictResolution Victoria Pynchon

      Nice on the secular holiday celebration – our most inclusive and non-divisive holiday and our most generous. To think there are people who say that only religion promotes the human spirit!

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy M

    Hey Brian-

    This is so important, and so well put.

    I think what you're really talking about here is gratitude. Gratitude is the most powerful of emotions, it is literally life-changing. I'm very grateful to have you in our little community of communicators!

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Jeremy, gratitude is a big part of the investment and exchange. Thank you very much.

  • kurtdaradics

    kukua is the Hawaiian word for reciprocity.

  • http://twitter.com/rhappe Rachel Happe

    Great message – I would love to see along with this the people/groups/companies that you want to thank or promote – would make the message even more impactful. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Happy Thanksgiving Rachel!

  • davidweinfeld

    Thank you writing this post. It articulates the immense value embedded within social media beyond those who look it as just another distribution channel. Its worth and long-term value will continue to be defined by the communities that it supports, and the support those communities provide in return.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Well said David…well said.

  • http://www.kutro.com/ W.F.

    Here it is “Give and It Shall be Given To You” The tone of your blog post is very refreshing and timely.

  • http://twitter.com/EurekaJanet Janet Alexander

    Brian: Since I've just recently entered your world you have given me heaps 'o goodness to fill my brain. Thank you. This article just proves your profound motivation in helping to pioneer New Media. Keep 'em coming~! Please. ;-)

  • Brent Clanton

    Excellent observations, Brian–how appropriate for this time of the year!

  • Brent Clanton

    Excellent observations, Brian–how appropriate for this time of the year!

  • http://www.twitter.com/jaxx09 Jackson Wightman

    There are many firms out there on right now who could learn a lot from this post. Julien Smith and Brogan say it very well in Trust Agents – communities want to be “cared for”. This means helping not hard selling.

    It is funny because the notion of reciprocity – and the benefits of reciprocal giving/exchanging – are things most (not all) humans are taught and understand young. Somewhere along the way this gets lost in the shuffle with some businesses.

    Thanks again Brian.

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  • http://www.superiorpromos.com/ Promotional Products

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing. I like the overall message that you are portraying here. Reciprocity and recognition are two verbs that are very much sought after in this social media age. If you can be recognized and pay that recognition forward, you are on your way to generating more business.

  • http://edwardboches.com edwardboches

    The problem/challenge for most companies is attributed to the stock market which demands short term results. So gimme gimme gimme. The idea of paying forward and back is a long term strategy. The results aren't instant, though they're clearly obvious. It will take a while and some visible case studies for businesses to catch on to what many individuals know.

  • ingenesist

    Brian; Great post for the holidays. There should be more like this….

  • ingenesist

    Brian, Great Holiday Post. Lots of folks picked up on that. We need more like this….

  • padtitude

    Amazing how the lives of early settlers and our great grandparents were also measured by social capital, not financial capital. That's how the early co-operatives were formed. I guess the sentiment and need is still around, as we are a world wide co-op today. Thanks Brian.

  • andygooglemegreider

    In fundraising and working with clients who ask for general donations, I always stress the dire need for reciprical giving and caring. Give back to those who give to you.

  • adamsscott

    Excellent observations.

  • http://siliconshovel.com MarcEglon

    Sorry I didn't even get past the first paragraph but I think I got it. Right there. Awesome stuff.

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  • jass85

    Yes I also believe that, “there is a balance required to engage, contributing as much or more value than you withdraw from each interaction”.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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