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  • Albert M. Carter, M.Ed.

Social Currency: I'm not a businessman....I'm a business man (Self-Incorporating)

Updated: Jun 29

The rise of social media has dramatically increased the circulation of information about products and services around the world. We live in a world where people love to share their opinions with others (especially this guy) about a variety of topics, from politics, to technology, to music, and just about everything else. In the world of entrepreneurial business, we have a term for this, it's called the “circle of influence.” The circle of influence is essentially everyone you interact with. It can even extend to everyone that they interact with. This circle of influence is known as social currency. And its impact on your personal brand (which we all have) is powerful.


Social currency is extremely important for your marketing success. Basically speaking social currency is an important branding, and value-building marketing tactic. Your business will increase its visibility by having a sense of community, and building a voice. So incorporating yourself increases your credibility with that community and helps to amplify your voice. Social currency is what your business earns when it effectively gains permission from your customers to speak to them. Incorporating yourself now makes you the business, legally.

“Social currency measures the ability of brands to fit into how consumers manage their social lives in today’s digital and mobile age.”

Reference:Study by Vivaldi Partners


Dimensions of social currency:

Without further ado, here are 6 ways you can earn social currency as a self incorporated business (or business in general).

  • Affiliation 

  • Conversation

  • Utility 

  • Advocacy 

  • Information 

  • Identity 

Affiliation:

In the age of social media, a successful brand community is the holy grail of customer engagement. At their pinnacle; customers, prospects and partners come together organically to share their knowledge and passion for a person, brand or product (in this case a person, you), resulting in a band of advocates that can be far more powerful and influential than any corporate marketing activity. 


One of the defining features of the past decade is the diminished power companies have controlling customer interactions. While marketers used to have to initiate nearly all of the interactions a business might have with its customers, today customers can take it upon themselves to exchange stories about a company's successes (and failures) on WhatsApp, in Facebook groups, and in other forms of social media without ever interacting directly with them.


Here are some crucial lessons to consider while offering a sense of community among your supporters (and potential customers):


Lesson 1: Be willing to trust your community of supporters.

Lesson 2: Foster two-way communication

Lesson 3: Start with “why" and "who,” not “what”

Lesson 4: Be generous

Lesson 5: Collect feedback and act on it

Lesson 6: Listen to your audience

Lesson 7: Consider a sustained collaboration, not a short-term investment.


Conversation:

Stop talking at your community. Instead, create conversations with them. Respond to comments and questions on Social media accounts, or your blogs. By acknowledging a supporter’s comment or concern in a timely fashion, you are showing them that your brand cares, and since you are the brand, you are showing them that you care. In order to drive conversations you need to be ready to continuously improve your communication strategy.  This is your chance to resolve any negative feelings, and make people feel comfortable with using your product or service. This kind of approach will make your supporters or members of your community feel special, which will help you gain their loyalty. Here are some tips for you to improve your interaction with your community;

  • By listening to their concerns, the more your brand will be able to improve.

  • If someone has an issue, it is best to address it quickly.

  • Blogging is also a great way to help answer frequently asked questions

  • Share thoughts and insights on trends with prospective customers to help them


Utility:

At their essence, supporters (and potential customers) are always looking for value. When they see value, the chances of them making a purchase increase dramatically, therefore becoming a consumer. Being in a position to focus on your most valuable customers might sound like a luxury, however to increase your utility it is a necessity. After all, many small businesses are grateful to have customers of any kind. There are two basic aspects to customer utility: desired value and perceived value. Modern consumers are obsessed with finding the best bang for their buck. Here are creative ways to demonstrate value to consumers;

  • Let them feel that you understand them

  • Listen to their feedback

  • Surprise them

Advocacy:

No businessperson in their right mind will deny the desire for customers who feel so strongly about their brand that they stick with it for the long haul. Loyal supporters renew their contracts and purchase additional products and services from the company. You are not any different. Even companies with lower-priced offerings can ring up impressive numbers when they up-sell or cross-sell a sizable base of loyal supporters. These customers not only love your brand, they love you and they are also willing to vocalize and share that passion with their peers. In other words, they’re advocating for your brand everywhere they go.


There are three main reasons for a customer to be loyal;

  • Brand attraction

  • Necessity

  • Accessibility

Information:

The 21st century is the Age of Information, and the success of your business in this century depends heavily on your ability to properly share and utilize the information you have on hand. The same principle also applies to attracting new people to your community. Sharing a little information about your history, challenges and ideas through storytelling may encourage potential customers. Sharing of information is very vital to businesses and personal relationships. Always follow these rules while sharing authentic, valuable and shareable data to your community.

  • Personal Data Sharing Comes Via Trust, Rewards And Decision-Making Support

  • Share Your Story on Your Website

  • Make Time to Write Blog Posts

Whether you’ve recently started a company or have been in business for years, sharing your personal stories offers a simple, inexpensive way to increase your community and customer base for your self incorporated business or business in general.



Identity: 

Providing customers with their own identity in a group has become increasingly more meaning-based. Brands are often used as symbolic resources for the construction and maintenance of identity. Consumers use brands and products to express their identities. Group identity refers to a person’s sense of belonging to a particular group. At its core, the concept describes social influence within a group. 

"Commercial brands...have come to serve as signifiers of identity in society and legitimized consumer culture that is made visible in terms of its referents: images, commodities and consumption as also their articulation in daily lives of people.”

Reference: Mathur explained


The Bottom Line:

Social currency is what helps businesses create unique brand identities and provides the accessibility and permission to continually interact with your community of supporters and customers. Whether you are a freelancer journalist or a mogul in the making, by self incorporating, you are allowing yourself to improve your personal brand, minimize your personal liability, and protect your personal assists. With more people than ever connected to the internet and new social media platforms popping up, its important to have a central location so that people can understand and identify what it is that you do. Become more than a businessman (or businesswoman) become a business yourself.



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