Building Relationship Capital

Barriers to entry are rising quickly for social media marketing. Facebook’s meteoric growth in Q1 2011 is staggering, with over 1 Trillion display ads served in this time period. This growth is mirrored, although not at Facebook’s  breakneck pace, via other top social media portals including LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

As we’ve discussed before in previous posts, it’s no longer possible to simply create a good social media profile and expect to generate stellar results. There is simply too much noise in the marketplace.  Your brand’s challenge is really about building what we call relationship capital.

First, what is “relationship capital?”  It’s the collective and individual value of the network of all people, partners, suppliers, customers and others that are connected with your brand.  

Three Steps to Building Relationship Capital:

1) Creating quality content that engages people in your target market and motivates them to change their behavior and/or share your brand messaging with others. The social web has rapidly become a decision index for many, replacing more traditional research.

  • Individuals and companies look to the Internet and social web to see what is being said positively and negatively about brands they want to engage with.
  • Think of your content as the front door to your engagement with people and other brands.
  • Don’t forget about adjusting your content strategy when necessary. If your Blog isn’t driving sign ups and your Twitter and Facebook accounts are growing then your content strategy may need a significant adjustment.

2) Measure your growth via the social web and the quality of your online brand. What we mean by “measure your growth” is doing more than analyzing the number of Followers via Twitter, Fans via Facebook, visits via Google Analytics and related baseline measurements.

  • Your looking to take a snapshot of front end social engagement that drives relationship capital; i.e. how many times a piece of content has been shared, ReTweets via Twitter, Likes via Facebook, Shares via LinkedIn or incorporated/referenced via a “Best Answer.”
  • The quality of your online brand can be measured in a number of ways above and beyond baseline metrics. It overlaps with social measurement and should also include a deeper dive into customer interaction with your brand.

3) Be ethical and qualitative to build high quality relationship capital. People online like to engage with brands (companies, individuals and groups) that they like and trust. They are looking for insight, motivation and something inspirational.

  • You can be as creative as you want to be online, in some cases, the more the better. But, don’t overstep the boundaries of good taste. Spamming LinkedIn contacts (we get them every day) and throwing out nasty slang via Twitter are not going to build an ethical or qualitative brand.
  • Relationship building via the social web is no different to a certain extent than offline. People track your content much more than you realize  and every blog post, video, Tweet and Facebook “Like” activity is building a profile for your brand - engagement or lack thereof indicates the quality of your brand’s online persona.

To summarize; create great content that is engaging, take a deep measurement of your social media activities and be ethical and down to earth in all communications. The end result will be a strong pillar of relationship capital. Which in turn will drive opportunities and revenue.

  • Rob Peters

    Excellent article on Relationship Capital(RC).

    I attended a recent IBM Become a Social Business Event and that stated businesses must be:
    - Engaged with all stakeholders
    - Transparent
    - Nimble
    This is critical to succeeding in social business.

  • kathrine bocsh

    hi … its an amazing post and the suggestion given on how to build the relationship capital are very nice, thanks