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The Value of Reciprocity in Social Influence

September 29, 2009Sparxoo


By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

In the digital age, reciprocity has never been more essential and evident than in the development of communities. Whether it’s digging a friend’s story, introducing a colleague on LinkedIn or adding a link to a fellow blogger on your blogroll, reciprocity is an integral part of online community development. In our Digital Influence in News and Politics Report, we found those with the greatest social influence heavily relied upon reciprocity.

The 2009 Digital Influence in News and Politics Report illustrates benefits of reciprocity and its impact on social influence in the blogosphere. The main contributor to a blog’s influence is the number of links pointing to the blog. Often times, bloggers use link exchanges as a way to drive traffic to their blog and network with their peers. Link exchanges tie together large communities of bloggers and symbolize affiliation. There is an etiquette involved between link exchanges that is based on reciprocity: if a fellow blogger adds your website to their blog, it’s common courtesy to do the same. As your blog is added to more blogrolls, the greater your influence within the community.

The Digital Influence in News and Politics Report shows of the handful of blogs on the top 25 influencer list, half of the most backlinked sites are blogs. The Huffington Post (2), Daily Kos (3), The Drudge Report (5), Real Clear Politics (6) and Politico (10) are those that made the top 10 most backlinked sites. To illustrate the impact of reciprocity on backlinks and social influence, consider The Huffington Post. The internet news site places number two on our social influence list and features over a hundred links to blogs, news and columnists ranging topics such as politics, media, business, living and the list goes on.

As media transition to more digital formats, reciprocity will continue to increase in value. In essence, even simple link exchanges build social capital between community members. The web has enabled and empowered those without a voice to get up and make their opinion heard. The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, The Drudge Report are all soap boxes constructed from the nails and wood of the web. Other media could take a lesson from bloggers and find new and innovative ways to engage and activate new audiences through reciprocity.

Read the full Digital Influence Report (PDF)

Photo by Joe Zlomek from Stock.Xchng