I've always loved the concept of paying it forward: Do something for another with no expectation for that person to return the favor, but instead, hope the act will inspire them to help another person someday. We may know it from the movie, but this concept of "generalized reciprocity" was first described in a letter written by none other than Ben Franklin in 1784.
Now fast forward to 2006, David Maister (who's taking a well deserved summer off from blogging) included me in a thank you post he writes every month to express his gratiude to those who comment on his blog. And he does so with links to his commenters blogs. David understands that contributing to the conversation on a blog takes time and for most people is a truly generous act, benefiting both the blogger and the audience. Without comments there is no dialogue, and without a dialogue of sorts, then a blog operates at less than half strength regardless of how good the author.
I've made the monthly thank you post a practice ever since, and today because of twitter and the other tools that allow people to contribute it so many different ways, I've expanded my thank you list to include not only commenters on my blog, but contributors in other social media forums including twitter, PROpenMic, etc.
Yesterday David Mullen, who's a colleague at Mullen and fellow blogger at relentlessPR, wrote a post thanking those who commented on his new blog based on my thank you post for June. Reading it made my day.
I 've always believed that being successful in social media starts with having basic social skills. A simple thank you goes a long way. If you haven't thanked those who contribute to your own blogs recently, please do. Your readers will appreciate it, and I believe you'll inspire them to thank it forward as well!