Online Social Currency: How to build and measure it
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging may appeal to you or have you run in the opposite direction. Each of these social media strategies can play a role in raising your creditability and online social currency. Why should you care?
Social currency is your real or tangible value that is derived from your online activities. You can read about it in Victorio Milian’s Post: Unusual Idea of the Day – A Better Use of Social Currency and this month’s HR Carnival challenge by William Gould.
Personally, I have seen social currency – it may not be the millions of dollars that some online marketers make, but my social value gains traction day by day. In the beginning there was my company website. Now, it is important to expand and link yourself to other sites.
Here’s how I did it. When LinkedIn started years ago, I was an early adopter. There was a clear benefit to building a professional network. My approach was to include people who I knew either professionally or personally. There are open networkers and selective networkers – I am fall in the latter.
The impetus for building my social currency was not the usual avenue – I always wanted to write a book. I have sat down in front of the computer and started to write it many times. But I got stuck. Do I write a “how to” book or do I tell a story? What topic should I write on that is unique and avoids the (yawn) yet another over read category or message?
Instead of writing a book, I decided to start a blog. I figured that it would get me in the swing of writing on a consistent basis and eventually I would have the content for my book. The blog was initially called The Wimpy Boss and has evolved into Elephants at Work. That was about three years ago.
Writing a blog takes commitment and staying power. Blogging requires you to think and be clear about what you stand for because when you communicate your ideas or point of view online, you take a stand and it is there for a long time.
If you are not comfortable with expressing yourself openly – also known as transparency, this is not the place to start building your online social currency. You need a thick skin because there will be people who don’t like what you have to say. There will also be followers who “get it” and “get you” which is how you reach your target audience.
I opted to use the email updates and RSS feeds through Feedblitz instead of developing a newsletter. Update: I use Feedblitz for my RSS feed and now I have switched over to AWeber for my email/newsletter. Purposely, I do not add anyone’s email address that I obtain through my business as an executive career coach or team development expert. I decided to let my list grow organically. Each person selectively chose to receive updates – this prevents inflation of my data which measures how my social currency is growing. Year over year, my social media outreach has grown several hundred percent.
After starting Elephants at Work, I decided to dabble in Twitter and Facebook. It was not clear to me if Twitter would benefit my social currency or business model. The early adopters were Marketing/Social Media types, but I continued to build my base of Twitter followers to see where it might take me. Within the Facebook realm, I created pages for Elephants at Work and Leadership Breakthrough, Inc.
The most important thing I did was to link new Elephants at Work posts and LinkedIn updates to the Twitter and Facebook page feeds. By doing this, I was able to share my articles with more people.
Then it happened. I received an email from a potential client. He found me through Twitter which led him to Elephants at Work and my LinkedIn profile. He read every article and decided to contact me about coaching services. Today, 1.5 years later he is still a client.
Since then, I continue to obtain individual and corporate clients through my online social network. What I encourage is for someone to do their homework about me. If they don’t do the research, I question if they are a serious client who wants to make a difference or impact in their life or organization. With this strategy, I spend less time on people who suck up my time and never engage my services. If they want something for free, they can glean information from my blog.
What is clear to me is that social currency rises when you interact in niche markets and build online communities. Based on my observations, I started a new venture called AssessmentRatings.com which focuses on human effectiveness assessments. It continues to grow with new content and resources each month, increasing its social currency by creating tangible value.
- You can get results using LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook independently; however, the power of linking all the sites together creates exponential reach and growth.
- Break it down into small steps and begin with one social network. Do something you are interested in or good at and expand as you become more knowledgeable about your strategy and time constraints.
- Automate how your accounts talk to one another – it will save you time. If you don’t know how to do it, get someone to help you or hire it out.
- Determine how you are going to measure your time, impact and results.
- Be patient. It takes time to grow your network and for your network to trust you. Build confidence with each comment and action and your social currency will flourish.