Social capital is an idea that has been around for more than a century, though its meaning has shifted over time. In the past, social capital defined the way a group of people in a community came together to build mutual trust and work together. Today, it also applies to the way brands interact with one another, and with their audiences.
The idea of social capital is that every person and brand has a set of “reputation points” they build up over time. Social capital functions like an unseen trustworthiness score. Essentially, it’s an invisible metric determined by how people see you and how seriously they take your influence.
Here are some of the basic tenets of social capital:
- Shared values and/or identity
When we establish strong connections with people and brands who share our values, we build the ability to work together toward a common goal. This shared work can be alongside each other, or as a combined unit.
Social capital measures the effects of our collaborative efforts–and our ability to collaborate in the first place. It also tells us a lot about the people we team up with and the ways we mutually benefit one another and our broader networks.
These days, social capital goes far outside your local community and extends into the global collective. As a result, social media, online marketing, remote work, and the internet have made it possible to connect with people from far beyond our own backyard.
Let’s look at ways we can build social capital, leverage it wisely, and protect it in the long term.