Creating social capital for your brand

While reading an article by Christine M. Riordan and Kevin O’Brien (thanks guys) on the importance of social contracts and social capital to create great teamwork, I turned my mind to the value of creating social contracts and social capital in customer communities.

Social capital, until now has meant, kudos, by associating our social image with that of a brand or specific content, to project our desired self image and provide cues on how we want people to relate to us. Researchers have linked this form of social capital to the greatest factor driving viral content on the web.

Social capital, has also comes to mean a recognition of commercial value for your personal social network. It is not new, American Express have always used member get member campaigns to acquire new customers. In today’s world however, we are seeing social media take it to the next level, with Facebook shops allowing friends and brands to trade within their social network.

Not surprisingly, the top Facebook shops have a branded merchandise feel to them, as the most successful shops tend to be an extension of a celebrity brand.

Here is a list of the leading Facebook stores below:

Bands have the top stores with on average 4.5 million fans, the next are television program 3.7 million fans, followed by sports and clothing stores…Here are the top stores and their numbers of friends.

• Lady Gaga (29,866,781) (Music) (Bravado)
• Justin Bieber (22,796,867) (Music) (Bravado)
• Starbucks (19,970,760) (Retailer) (Custom)
• Green Day (13,066,082)(Music) (Bravado)
• Grey’s Anatomy(12,238,638) (TV) (ShopIgniter)
• Muse (8,766,601) (Music) (
• NBA (7,685,026) (Sports) (Milyoni)
• Dexter (7,249,844) (TV) (Milyoni)
• Desperate Housewives (7,086,194) (TV) (ShopIgniter)

Now the in sharing economy, communities creates a new form of social capital through peer to peer platforms built on a shared purpose. This social capital is formed through the value of a being part of a community which creates an online marketplace.

A Toronto based sharing enterprise has a peer to peer platform for sharing frequent flyer points called Current airline partners include Delta SkyMiles, American Airlines AAdvantage and Continental Airlines OnePass, among others. has a Facebook interface that allows you to promote your desired swap through your social network.

Even traditional retailers are starting to see the value of peer to peer exchange. IKEA got into the act with a program in Holland on specific days to allow the public to come into their store to arrange a furniture swap with other people in their customer community. This was in line with IKEA’s brand promise to encourage their customers to become designers. The payback for IKEA, was not only a branding building exercise, but also as a trigger for sales. IKEA’s research showed them, that once a room was altered in some way, it was highly likely they would make another purchase.

The ultimate swap, was a story of the man, Kyle MacDonald who used Craiglist to swap to a paperclip for a house. If you haven’t seen it, let the man tell you the story of how he swapped his was way to a home, on the video below.

Louise Kelly
Managing Director

Founder of Thought Leaders Circle


Click to access f_store_ranking_0311.pdf

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