social currency

    Rich in Likes: Understanding & Leveraging Social Currency

    May 19 2021

    Back in the olden days of internet fame, a person or brand’s relevance was primarily based on their proximity to monetary wealth or level of celebrity. It’s why child stars, hotel heiresses, and brands with household names ruled the pop culture landscape. But today is an entirely different ball game, and it all boils down to a phenomenon known as social currency. In this blog, we’re demystifying the new standard of credibility and breaking down ways you can leverage this wealth to elevate your brand on social media. Let’s dive in!

    Understanding Social Currency

    To get started, let’s back up a few paces and unpack the term itself. What exactly does “social currency” mean? Born from the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his theory of social capital, social currency is defined as the credibility of one's brand based on its social media presence. In layman’s terms, that’s the monetary value your social engagement (likes, shares, views, comments, etc.) holds. Or in Gen-Z lingo, your level of clout.

    Earning Social Currency

    In the age of social currency, the best investment you can make to be successful on social media is in yourself! When you leverage something that’s unique to you or your brand, there’s always going to be demand for it. The trick is focusing your energy around building and refining  the attributes that will heighten your earnings:  

    • PERSONALITY – Create a unique, transparent, and authentic brand through your personality and skills. Above all, be yourself.
    • FOLLOWER LOYALTY – Through consistent community engagement and honesty, gain the trust of your followers.
    • CONSISTENCY – Build a dedicated community by posting and engaging regularly. Followers appreciate knowing what to expect.
    • RELEVANCY – Stay on top of trends and weigh in when topics align with your personality and brand. When working with partners, do your due diligence and choose like-minded brands.
    • CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATFORM – You can’t be unique and consistent on every social media platform. Choose one or two to earn and sustain your social currency.

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    Leveraging Social Currency

    It’s no secret that the nature of advertising is changing, with influencer and freelance creator campaigns becoming more prominent in ad budgets across industries. Consumers are responding more and more to niche content, favoring authentic voices to connect with a brand or product. So, what exactly does that mean for you? O-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y. 
    With these trends, brands are investing in partnerships with freelancers and influencers to create more engaging and exciting content. These partnerships allow for more diversity, authenticity, and originality in content helps cut through the clutter of competitors, and allows brands to engage with audiences on a more intimate and accessible level. That’s where you come in! All the social currency you worked hard to amass is ready to be spent. But don’t worry, the beauty of social currency lies in its regenerative nature. 
    Social currency is a cyclical notion – here’s how that shakes out. You first invest in building and scaling the things that make you unique, and ultimately successful. Maybe that’s expanding your already popular line of astrology-themed candles into a full line of cosmic wellness products. Or taking your natural talent for creating infectious choreography and combining it with inspirational mantras applicable to people across demographics a la Donté Colley. Colley’s standout content and impeccably good vibes have become so iconic across Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter that brands including Pantene and the Academy Awards, seek him out to create and share niche branded content with his community of trusted followers. 
    Having social currency opens up doors of possibilities. Remember: brands want you because of who you are and what you do. They don't need you to do what they can do themselves. Your individuality got you here, and owning it is just the start. 
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    Regenerating Social Currency

    Aside from merely boosting your own platform, you can leverage your social currency to effect good for others. Your social currency has the power to:

    • Make actual change
    • Provide support to those in need
    • Rally groups of people together 
    • Give back to your community
    Take a note from one of our favorites, Austin-based food blogger A Taste of Koko, and the work she did during the 2021 winter snowstorm to help raise more than $150k for families in need by leveraging her platform for good. 
    There are many ways to “spend” your social currency that not only work for the benefit of your brand but also help support your community on and offline. You can “lend” your social currency to others in need by utilizing your platform to amplify the voices of underserved communities. In doing so, you create an accessible space for social issues to gain increased awareness and open yourself up to learning new ideas and making new connections.
    That’s social currency in a nutshell, and we hope these simple practices empower you to take command of your platform! For more insights on leveraging your social currency, download our fact sheet linked below.




    Learn more about Teresa Day, on PLANOLY

    Teresa Day

    Teresa is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at PLANOLY. Her passions lie in scaling companies through purposeful brand building, storytelling, and fostering authentic relationships with consumers.

    More by Teresa Day

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