Building Real Social Capital

You are not building Trust through Social Networking, you are increasing your Social Capital.

A post by Eric Fulwiler on the Social Media Today site caught my eye today as he spoke of the difference between developing Trust online and the increasing of Social Capital. Eric correctly identifies the point that the connections that you make online are not like the connections that you have with people in a real life scenario. You would not rely on these connections in times of 'real' crisis and more importantly it is unlikely that these connections have earned your trust.

Trust in a real life way is normally earned through a period of shared experiences, values and feelings that identify one with another. Not that you do not have these shared values and shared experiences with our online connections, but perhaps they are just not really on the same emotional and psychological level.

In contrast Eric Fulwile defines capital as the 'Accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods'. These metaphorical goods e.g. reputation, respect, quantity and quality of output, we collect for the greater purpose of producing other goods and creating further value for ourselves. We can gain and lose these goods through our varied actions within the social media landscape, goods such as followers, new customers and clients and jobs.

But there is four key rules to remember when attempting to increase your social capital. Firstly Social Capital, just like trust, must be earned. You must actively seek these metaphorical goods as unless you have an outrageous strike of good fortune, they are not going to land in your lap.

Social Capital can be spent.There is no point in building all this capital if it cannot be exchanged for something you need or want! Eric uses the example of asking your connections to vote for you in an award category, if you've put the work in what's wrong with reaping the rewards!

Thirdly your Social Capital can be invested. If you wish to grow your own finances, one way is to invest your money in a project/business that you feel has real potential to make serious profit. Social Capital works in much the same way as your own tangible finance, invest it in the right connections or social influencers and you will reap the rewards in terms of your social goods.

Finally, and most importantly, your Social Capital can be easily lost. Upset the wrong people through social networks e.g. bombard them with meaningless content, then they will influence others to leave you in droves. Thus it is important to protect your social capital whilst simulataenously developing, growing and deepening your social goods.