Brands Need Social Currency

In a world where one of the only things you control is your reputation, the same can be said about your brand’s reputation.

However, in a world where your reputation can be built over time, yet trashed in a minute, understanding some ins and outs related to “social currency” in our confusing social world is critical.

Social currency derives from the social capital theory put forward by Pierre Bourdieu where social capital results in:

  • increasing one’s sense of community,
  • granting access to information and knowledge,
  • helping to form one’s identity,
  • and providing status and recognition.

These concepts now apply to brand building in a social media context.

In the world of social media branding, it is all about the way people share their knowledge, views, interactions and experiences about brands with each other.

It is about creating a sense of community between consumers, customers and brands.

In this way, it has the same fundamental principles as branding has had since it’s original definition; the difference is that the means for creating that community of opinions has altered to include the vast array of social media that people today use for voicing and collaborating about brands.

If the traditional model of brand marketing was centred around the key principles of positioning, targeting, and messaging, the model of building social currency is centered oninteraction, collaboration, conversation, and co-creation.

I like to say we have moved from mass communication to mass collaboration. Consumers now co-create your content and help you produce, evolve, alter and even understand your brand better.

Social Currency is the extent to which people share the brand or information about the brand as part of their everyday social life at home or at work.

It is neither a product feature, nor a communications or PR campaign that is completely managed by any one company. From this perspective, social currency is a far more delicate asset to build, nurture and maintain than is brand equity.

Social currency is a means, not the end; nor is it just about buzz or conversation. Rather, it is about creating meaningful experiences around the brand.

It is therefore crucial that you acknowledge the social currency or make up of your brand and nurture, respect and refine it to fit with an ever-changing consumer mindset.

So how might you do it for your brand?

Think about:

  • Advocacy-build a community of advocates
  • Information-source it, respect it, utilize it
  • Context-give your brand context in the real world of your consumers

But remember that social isn’t for everyone.

You can create social currency through cultivation of a sense of community, by strengthening consumer interaction, and by providing value to the community.

In the end, your brand’s social currency and the trust it engenders develops from the credible experiences that your consumers have in the context of their daily life.

If social media is the way for your brand, then you need to use social currency to build a gravitational field that keeps your consumers orbiting around your brand.

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