Spread Your Social Capital 15

Share the social media wealth.

What are you holding onto?

We’re stuck in a scarcity mentality. It’s one more way that our old-school worldviews keep biting at our heels as we race ahead into the new world.

We think connections are a finite resource and that every connection someone else makes means fewer for another person. Networks don’t work that way, though–every new node makes the network richer.

One of the lessons of the The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid is that capitalism isn’t fluid enough. People in certain areas can’t get even the small amounts of capital they need to jumpstart their own entrepreneurial economies because the capital is being held. Frozen. Worthless. For capital to grow, it must be kept in motion. Money does talk, or at least it needs to.

In fact, one of the lessons of depression economics is that when money (which of course is only a stand-in for value in general) stops moving, trouble ensues, and I’m proposing today that much the same is happening in social networks. We see numerous studies showing that a small percentage of people create most of the content and that sites like Google and Facebook are dominating traffic. Meanwhile, we continue to measure success primarily by volume–how many, how much.

Cooperation gain doesn’t come naturally when competition is so highly valued. And yet, when one of us wins, we’re all a little richer. If you make more money, you have more to buy from me. If you’re healthy, you can spend money (or time or attention) on other things. This is among the points of the great new book The Mesh — that, counterintuitively, sharing can make us wealthier. Capital shared intelligently can be more effective than leaving capital idle.

Note that you have to have some capital to spread–so by all means, go out and earn it. Make as much as you can–do well. Make lots of connections. Make quality connections. The only point of this post is that you have to keep sharing it for it to grow and return value to you.

What does this mean in practice? A few simple things come to mind:

  • Produce. What you make is yours. That’s the entrepreneurial way–it’s what the United States was founded on. There’s an online landrush going on (and don’t be fooled…we’re just now in the homesteading phase) and it’s time to get your plot together.
  • Don’t re-create wheels. When you make, make something new. Add value and efficiency to the system by being original. Look for blue oceans to swim in.
  • Share. You have to keep investing in the system. Make connections not only for yourself but for others as well. Tip your hat to others when they do well, tell your friends about useful things that may not necessarily help you today, and look for opportunities to contribute. Recommend someone on LinkedIn. Comment on a blog. Find a new blog to read. You don’t have to…but it makes sense to.

As I’ve written before, if you give away everything you can give away, you will have nothing to fear from competitors, because all that’s left will be yours. That’s what you earn. If you forget the platform, though, you’re essentially eating your own seed corn. So quit hoarding and get out there and spread that social capital.

What do you think? Are we still operating in a natural-resources model that no longer applies? How could we better spread our social capital to help the larger network?

Afterword: Brian Solis has more fully defined the concept of Social Capital.

Will Reichard
Will Reichard has an MBA from the University of Mexico and is CEO of CrossCut Communications, LLC, a full-service marketing and communications company with a digital edge. His forte is messaging. From working as an editor at a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper to articulating the selling points of an innovative customer focused nonprofit fundraising organization, he consistently helps to give voice to challenging but mission-critical ideas. He writes a blog on social media, public relations, marketing and technology and was recently invited to be a panelist on personal branding at the prestigious Crittenden National Conference. He is also an award-winning writer who has been published in outlets including Innovation: America’s Journal of Technology Commercialization and National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

About William Reichard

Will Reichard, MBA, President, has a broad background in social media, strategic communications and marketing, public relations, development, fundraising and business management. His forte is messaging. From working as an editor with a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper to helping establish capacity in an early-phase public relations company aimed at middle-market businesses to articulating the selling points of an innovative customer-focused nonprofit fundraising organization (United Way of Central New Mexico), Reichard consistently helps to give shape to challenging but mission-critical ideas. He is an award-winning writer who has been published in outlets including Innovation: America’s Journal of Technology Commercialization. Most recently, he has consulted for a wide range of clients through his company, CrossCut Communications, and has become a sought-after speaker and adviser on the field of social media and business, a role in which he enjoys applying his bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. He writes a blog on social media, public relations, marketing and technology and was recently invited to be a panelist on personal branding at the prestigious Crittenden National Conference. He has additional interests in change management, social theory, issues of diversity, and management of technology. He graduated magna cum laude in anthropology and recently completed an executive-level master’s of business administration with a 4.0 gpa, both through the University of New Mexico. He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. Reichard belongs to Social Media Club and the New Mexico Tech Council, is a member of the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance, and belongs to the Business New Mexico network. He is involved in a variety of community efforts, including serving as president of Albuquerque Net Impact Professional and the board of the YMCA of Central New Mexico. He is particularly proud of his membership in the Rotary Club of Albuquerque del Sol. Available for speaking opportunities.