When last did you have the opportunity to network with a room full of like-minded peers? We often find ourselves in situations where we’re forced to relate to people who, while not in the same industry, have a substantial amount of value to add to our business. Common knowledge, right? Yes, we all know how important it is to “play nice” with others, but there’s more to it than just good manners.
Social currency as a theme in business encompasses a broad spectrum of interlocking ideas that all form a single, cohesive B-to-C or B-to-B engagement process. Rather than thinking of it as a product of your efforts, social currency should be considered the halfway point between what business invests in networking activities and the outcome, which is brand expansion through social engagement. Think of it as a tool to take us to the last step.
As far as earning this marketing tender goes, it’s pretty simple. As with any other currency, human capital and investment earns you points, although not in equal amounts in the least. Unlike so many other business activities, throwing money at this process will not necessarily garner success. The means to connect with people, through people, is achieved through sustained social conditioning that allows for an equal and real-time exchange of a broad range of ideas that ultimately lead to quality engagement.
In order to fully understand the importance and benefit of social currency, you need to look at the factors that, when approached as a sequence, make for a truly engaging end result.
3 building blocks
1. Connection: From school playgrounds to university cafeterias to staff parties and eventually corporate mixers, the ability to leap into a social situation is an invaluable skill. And as with most skills, one that needs training and encouragement. As Mike Taberner of Brandesign wrote, employees are powerful brand ambassadors. This rings true as so much time outside of the office is spent talking about work. So how do you grow these skills within your employees?
First, a top-down management approach — or as I like to call it, antiquated business management — isn’t the least bit conducive to growing an employee’s confidence and participative skills. Through-the-line involvement and transparent business practices throughout an organization encourage employees to get involved, while at the same time growing their own confidence in the business. This directly translates to their attitude and confidence when interacting with affected and interested parties outside the office.
2. Creativity: Allowing for lateral thought and adopting a responsive interactional attitude when dealing with others in industry gives you an adaptability that allows for broader engagement. Social currency in essence is the cash in your pocket you use to spend when talking to others. The more cash you have the better you can communicate and the broader your scope of communication, right?
Right. Creative thought is like an endless ATM dishing out currency for you to spend. The more you have, the better you’ll be able to connect, and connecting, as mentioned in our first building block, forms the basis of brand-user engagement.
3. Conformity: Call it what you will — conformity, segmentation, grouping — the thing is, at the end of the day what you want is to be able to compartmentalize. Consumers differ, businesses differ and you cannot treat them all the same. Throughout the process of “spending” your social currency, you’ll have picked up valuable insights from varied people; now use this to solidify partnerships. Digest the data and craft differentiated means of keeping the conversations going and, in doing so, build lasting, valuable engagements.