Harnessing the power of Social Media: what is your social capital?

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Ever seen a friend ‘check in’ to Pizza Express on Facebook and through – I could do with an Il Padrino with extra anchovies right about now?

One consequence of social media is the increase in social influence. Every Tweet or Facebook post consciously or unconsciously has an impact on those around us, whether in thought, behaviour or actions. The more weight, or influence, you carry in this arena, the more you have what is now termed as ‘social capital’. And to add to the pressure – we’re now scored on it.

Eminent Harvard political scientist Robert D Putnam believes social capital can be measured by ‘trust and reciprocity’ between peers and within communities, but as abstract, subjective concepts it’s hard to see what that looks like – especially digitally. But it can be done – and online companies are springing up to help people do it.

Klout, for example, measures influencers on topics across the social web – from Barack Obama to Korea, photography to Libya – and gives them a Klout score from 1-100. This is based on factors like the size and combined influence of your engaged audience and the actions your activity generates (such as tweets, likes and comments). So, essentially, they know what they’re talking about, what everyone else is talking about, and whether they’re talking about you.

So how can you improve your social capital? Two top tips are:

Look at your strategy. Or if you don’t have one, devise one. All content – every tweet, post, comment, recommend or like – should be part of your bigger picture. How does it shape the social persona you want to portray? Is that hasty tweet going to support all your hard work – or undermine it? Think about where you want to be in the world of social media and the strategy you need to get there.

Taking it to the next level. Not happy with the rung you’re sitting on, on the ladder of social influence? You can only get higher with a helping hand from those around you. The key to social interactions is engagement, increasing not only your social value, but that of the people and communities you engage with. See your activity in terms of investing in the value of the areas you operate in, rather than in terms of boosting your own standing, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Social capital in the only currency that counts in the social media world. Invest wisely.


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