What Goes Around Comes Around: Reciprocity on the web

The first of the six persuasion principles is reciprocity. This is the idea that when someone gives you something, you feel obligated to return the favor.

Let’s see some ways where this happens IRL:

In real life we have many sayings that mimic this idea of reciprocity.

pay_it_forward     KarmaCop-311x322-289x300

Pay it forward isn’t just the name of that movie with Kevin Spacey and the “I see dead people” kid, it’s also a term that is dated back as early as 1916 when it was coined by Lily Hardy in the book In the Garden of Delight. Where do we see this most often? Insurance policies. When we buy insurance it is an agreement between an individual and an insurance company, but who receives the “pay it forward” act? It’s the individual you bought the insurance for in the first place – your loved ones. No wonder it’s so easy to be persuaded by an insurance salesmen…

Facebook Games have also managed to use reciprocity to their benefit on the web: 

Farmville, for example, allows you to give and accept free gifts from people to help you move along in the game.

Farmville_Secret_Hint_Accept_The_Same_Gift_More_Than_Once_6

Candy Crush takes this one step further by making it almost MANDATORY to work with friends to help you get passed certain points. What’s interesting about this is they give you access to your whole Facebook friend group so you may or may not send it to an actual player.

 

Candy Crush makes it almost impossible to NOT reciprocate. They ask you to ask your friends to help you level up, or you have to pay.

Candy Crush makes it almost impossible to NOT reciprocate. They ask you to ask your friends to help you level up, or you have to pay.

How is it used on websites?

We see reciprocity used when we offer a free trial or free tools:Shopify Free Trial

Ecommerce Grader

Sooo.. How can this help Me?

By paying it forward we put people in that awkward place of feeling like they need to help us back.

Don’t believe me?

Try asking someone to move and watch how you feel when they ask you to help them move 3… three times in a row!

DO THIS EXERCISE (Seriously)

Since you made it this far, why not grab a paper & pen or open up an Evernote page and answer 1 or any of the following questions:

  1. How can you use reciprocity on your website or within your product?
  2. Can you test any of the examples above?
  3. Think of all things you have done today?
  4. Why did you do them?
  5. Can you apply any of these findings?

Comment below with some of your answers!

Want to learn more?
Research Article: Reciprocity Is Not Give and Take –  University of Chicago >> How the act of taking can have far stronger negative consequences than giving.

One thought on “What Goes Around Comes Around: Reciprocity on the web

  1. Pingback: #TLE2014 Cheat Sheet – 6 Ways to Convert Using Persuasion – Think Like a User

Questions? Comments?