Managing Your Social Capital

Seems like everyday I see new job listings for a social media specialist or hear about the creation of a new media team at some large corporation.  This seems kind of rediculous to me.

Social media is made of tools.  They’re just tools.  Hiring a social media specialist would be like a restaurant hiring a knife handling specialist.

Instead of thinking about the tools, think about what they’re used for.  They’re used for reaching new users and communicating with your existing ones.

Or… as Tara Hunt put’s it in her new book, it’s all about whuffie.  Not whoopeewhuffie.   It’s a term that’s used in a science fiction book to describe and measure someone’s reputation.  I think of it as social capital.

Do people trust you?  Do they respect you?  Are they a friend?  This is social capital.  Once you are those things… Once you have social capital, how do you maintain it?  How do you maintain those connections with your community and not fade into irrelevance?

You can manage your social capital using social media tools.

Your social capital… your repuation is SOOOOO important.  People spend so much time studying and practicing accounting.  Those people grow up to become the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) for companies and track financial capital of a company.  What about the social capital?  It’s just as imporant.

If you’re too big for your CEO to do this that’s when you hire a community manager.  Yes that’s me.  I’m a community manager and I manage the social capital for my company.  I spend most of my day making new friends and keeping the ones that we already have.

Making friends… that probably sounds super trivial but it’s actually pretty complicated and SUPER important.  If folks don’t trust you, they’ll tell their friends about it or the sheer act of no one talking about you at all will affect your bottom line.  You’ll lose financial capital because you were bad at managing your social capital.

Let’s assemble some examples of social capital situations.  What’s a comapny that you’ve lost respect for because of something they’ve done?  What’s a company that you’ve gained respect for because of something they’ve done?

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8 thoughts on “Managing Your Social Capital”

  1. I’ve been seeing a lot of competitors using social networks only to blow (not toot) their horns lately. This gets old very fast and definitely affects my perception of their brand.

    It’s okay to toot your horn, but it’s also important to give back something with substance in order to maintain that trust, respect and friendship you’ve built.

  2. Yeah absolutely. A big concept that Tara talks about in her book is that you need to turn around the mega phone. Instead of just using it to broadcast, you need to use it to listen to what your users are saying and then respond accordingly.

  3. “Hiring a social media specialist would be like a restaurant hiring a knife handling specialist.” That’s an excellent, well articulated point.

    I haven’t read the book you’re talking about, but social media capital sounds like a subset of brand. How is it different? Or is the term designed to help remind brand managers to Use All Their Tools?

  4. Very good question. I guess I’m not experienced enough in the space to know what the historical definitions of brand would be. I’d think they’d be similar.

  5. Yeah absolutely. A big concept that Tara talks about in her book is that you need to turn around the mega phone. Instead of just using it to broadcast, you need to use it to listen to what your users are saying and then respond accordingly.

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