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@Jason - thank you for that inspired thought. Maybe what's happening is that we're all living out loud.

@Adrian - you present a very compelling case for dynamic content creation. And you nail it with "the economy of social capital is surplus". Those who don't get both will be left behind.

@Tiffany - "isn't it important for us to ask what they are making the most of their networks for?" It is critical that we do. And yes, the payoff for personal brand is not sales (even though many take it there), it's legacy. People seek recognition, they want to matter... and endure.

@Rick - we exist at many levels for different circles of people and it's hard for them to recognize when we change or to see us as something else in a different context. For example, to IABC I'm just a member, one who got the accreditation, paid dues for years... when they look for a someone to write about social media they tap someone met on Twitter, or become famous via a campaign. It's actually the same thing companies do - they hire outside consultants and agencies for counsel when sometimes they have greater expertise inside. The brand is in their minds.

@Sander - that's very kind of you, Sander. We do tend to pay attention to information when we're attuned to it. Which is one of the reasons that online sometimes feels like an echochamber.

@Lauren - you often add to the conversation, and I think that is part of who you are. Critical thinking is a good thing. I actually do see the point of developing a personal track, so to speak. Companies rarely put the resources and support behind someone these days. And mentors are a very rare thing these days. Everyone is just so busy and everything needs to happen, now.

Tiffany your point is right on... I'm leaning towards the idea that social capital in social media has two forms, and this comes from anthropological theories of pre-industrial "tribal" communities: units and flows. It holds up to the present day, though, in that we still have capital accumulation and currency flows.

Where this leads us, if it's worth using, is to a notion of social capital accumulated (units, think piles), and social capital expended (flows, think conversation).

I think what's unique to social capital online is that the economy of social media isn't scarcity but is surplus. Social capital is not a "thing", just as influence isn't a "property". It's relational -- a measure of the relative importance (understood perhaps as ability to get attention and amplify conversation) of a person. We don't have influence if it's not perceived as influence by others. Influence is just "power" as a social currency -- it can disappear as quickly as it can be obtained.

Which would suggest that social capital increases value as it is expended in social media -- as influencers spend their influence, it accrues to those who participate.

I think the whole model of brand equity needs to be re-interpreted in social media. It's not something the brand possesses, but is a social flow that captures attention precisely because it smiles upon those who pass it along (they get attention by association). It is not managed, owned, possessed, defined by the brand, but depends completely on the community's participation and interest.

cheers,
adrian

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