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Social capital and building a quality social graph

I have just finished reading: ‘Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom‘ by Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta.  This book provides a fascinating chronicle of social media to date that is heavily influenced by history and social anthropology.

One chapter in particular fired my rockets which was all about social capital.

Social capital
From a marketer's perspective social capital by definition is no different from economic capital that is invested in order to deliver a return.  This means that when brands use social media, they are essentially investing social time and effort with the overall aim of achieving a return on that investment.  The same applies to consumers use of social media too.

Brands increasing social capital via their social graph
When putting together a social media strategy, brands are looking to increase their social capital through increasing the number of friend/fans/followers on social network platforms.  

Brands also use blogging outreach programmes targeting key professional bloggers who have great influence over a brand's target audience in hope of improving the quality of their social graph.

At the same time brands are also building social relationships with advocates and consumers via campaigns, communities, outreach programmes, widgets, wikis, social games, building in engagement marketing in hope of achieving trust and loyalty, again increasing the quality of the social graph.  

This social graph can then be leveraged by the brand through promotions, offers, market research, crowd sourcing and collaboration to hopefully deliver a return on the original social investment that adds value to a brand's bottom line.

Individuals increasing social capital through building a quality social graph
For individuals looking to increase their social capital through social media, marketer Jim Collony recently put together a fantastic post ‘How I attracted 8000 followers in 14 weeks! illustrating how to increase your own social capital through selectively following Twitter consumers who add value to your social graph.  Jim's strategy in his post can also be applied to brands as well as other social media tools and platforms.

As with all strategies, campaigns and activities the more time and effort you put into something, the greater return on that investment you will achieve, but you must have a goal in mind: prestige, recognition, loyalty, value, information, influence etc… Savvy brands know that through engagement marketing and one-to-one communications they can increase their social capital but they must invest time, money and effort with long term goals in order to experience a significant return - it's all out there!


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