As community professionals, we believe (implicitly or
explicitly) that the value of creating social capital outweighs the costs.
The idea that organizations should cultivate and harvest
social capital from their stakeholders is revolutionary. It’s not necessarily
new, but it’s certainly revolutionary.
Some are blown away by organizations talking directly to
stakeholders, we’re blown away by our stakeholders talking to each other.
In an era of fuzzy buzzwords, engagement everywhere, social
business hype, and poor measurement, this risk being just another thing. But I
hope not. It’s so much more important than any of them.
This is the answer to some of the biggest strategic
questions of our time; what do we do with
all these stakeholders we have? How
do we develop a sustainable competitive advantage? How do we increase value from the assets we already have?
All of the above; engagement, social business, and other
buzzwords are small pieces of the social capital puzzle.
Social capital, your target audience interacting with each
other, leads to many amazing things. It leads to higher retention rates, rebuy
rates, upsells, and advocacy. It leads to improved, more cost-efficient,
customer service. It leads to employees sharing knowledge and innovating within
the organization. It reduces waste. It leads to ongoing innovation within your
You can build social capital today and completely change
your entire field. You can build a community today and still be harvesting the
social capital it yields decades later. Turning the organization into a
mechanism for building social capital can completely change how you approach
what you do.
Social capital is measurable. You can build social capital
and directly measure the results. The benefits of social capital are powerful.
What we’re trying to achieve by this site, our consultancy,
our training, our books and other material is to create a large army of people
that can build social capital for their organizations.
The best thing about social capital, is it benefits
everyone. It benefits those who are harvesting it and creating it. If you
build social capital amongst a group of people, it benefits every single one of
those people. They have higher levels of efficacy and even happiness. They can
do more with their lives, or in their jobs, all because of you.
Building a community platform is just one approach to
cultivate social capital. Hosting regular online or offline events is another.
Having fixed time-specific discussions is another. Creating a peer-reviewed
journal of progress for your target audience is another. Sometimes the platform
isn’t the best option. It’s often the most common, but not the easiest.
Part of every community’s professional’s mission then is to
ensure people understand these key four things:
1) What is social capital? 2) What is the value of social
capital 3) How do we create social capital and 4) How do harvest social
Not an easy mission, but an important one.