I’ve puzzled over the value of social media for a long time, vacillating between “snake oil” and “the next big thing.” So far, the only concrete conclusions I’ve reached are:
- Social media is a time suck.
- Social media can elect a president.
- Social media is a powerful branding tool if you have an unlimited amount of time and money.
- Social media is nearly impossible to quantify using traditional ROI measures.
I think Solis is under the impression he gets paid by the word, and one has to sort through the psychobabble to get to the meat, but the point is clear: honest engagement in social media enables a brand (or an individual) to demonstrate that you truly are who you say you are.
In his April 8 post, “How do you increase social influence? Don’t think about the score,” Solis states that one should not mistake “influence” (the number of connections, posts, “likes,” retweets, friends, etc. one acquires) with “social capital,” defined by Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam as, “[the] collective value of all ‘social networks’ and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other.”
“[Putnam] believes social capital can be ‘measured by the amount of trust and reciprocity in a community or between individuals’.”
In other words, your ability to influence action is in direct proportion to the amount of trust you engender from those in your social community.
“Influence is not measured by a score, but instead by the culmination of resulting actions…If you invest in the value of the community and seek to improve the experiences of those to whom you’re connected, your influence and presence is in turn symbolic of something that escapes a number. Your investment then pays off in the form of self actualization [emphasis mine], reaching higher potential without any attachment to success or reward.”
Capitalists (myself included) will have a difficult time grasping this altruistic philosophy, especially if our number one goal is to sell stuff.
However, when paired with more traditional marketing communications, social media efforts over time build trust and demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of those you value the most—your customers.