flowing motion

What do you do about local businesses who Twitter but don’t follow back?

Posted on: November 16, 2009

Internet reciprocity and local business

Tell me, what is my obligation to help a local business who won’t help anyone else? Or if I am at work, what is my obligation to help a colleague who won’t help anyone else.

Reciprocity norms under scarcity and abundance

My instincts are all wrong.  I come from a country where just about everything is in short supply.

  • We don’t throw away food. Minimally, it will be boiled up in the dog’s food or made into compost.
  • We don’t throw way packaging. It is reused for something else.
  • We don’t even send spam because people pay for incoming mail. They’ll block us in an instant.

Our instincts are never to waste and always to help. Help first. Ask questions later.

In a land of abundance, what is the right response?

Let’s take a local shop who is new to Twitter

  • We can help them out by following.
  • We can help them out by RT.
  • We can help them out by replying and starting a conversation.
  • We can help them out by DM’s useful information.

But of course we cannot DM them if they don’t follow us. And I have to ask, why do I follow them, if they don’t follow me?

What should be my response?

Should we follow everyone who follows us?

I don’t follow everyone who follows me on Twitter.

Lots of people follow me on Twitter. I quickly learned most of them are bots.

When they speak to me, if they speak to me, I check them out.

If they behave “botishly”, I call them out.

If they reply, I check them out, and I help them. I put some time into helping them. I go out of my way to help them.

The instincts of living with scarcity. Always help a stranger.

Maybe I should be following other people more diligently?

I should probably make an effort to follow people who follow me.

The thing is I didn’t get on to Twitter to sell anything. I got on to Twitter to keep in touch with people. I quickly connect with anyone that I meetup with or who might have some common interest with me ~ like local shops.

Well, I suppose I should check my followers to see who is who. Or they could reply to me about something. After all I chatter a lot.

I think I am confused here. I am certainly annoyed that local shops broadcast and don’t listen back.

Have I answered my own question? What is my obligation to local businesses?

In a land of abundance, should I look after the people around me? I am not sure I should. There is another shop down the road.

Get real folks. We aren’t going to carry your baggage for you ~ not on this road ~ lands of abundance require economic reciprocity ~ you help me, I help you, you help me ~

If I am not sufficiently important to you for you to be sociable ~ then you will have to pay me for my time ~ that’s how it works.

But my instincts from the land of scarcity is that I might have to put up with your bad behaviour and to cajole you out of it? Do I? Do I hurt myself by not troubling myself to hurt you?

What if I just sit and watch you struggle? What if I just behave like one of those characters in sitcoms that sits on the sidelines and makes useless comments in the manner of a court jester?

So follow me back and talk to me!

And maybe I should check my follower list more carefully!  Or perhaps it is that those who set out to sell don’t listen. Maybe selling leads to an instinct not to reciprocate.

Someone straighten me out please!

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