How to Cultivate Your Social Capital
Your social media network equals net worth
by Joanne Troppello
Seasoned marketing expert, Porter Gale created the phrase your network is your net worth, which is also the title of her book on how your professional career or business marketing strategy can benefit from cultivating your social network.
“Your social capital is your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships.” — Porter Gale
With over 3.5 billion people active on social media each day, Ms. Gale advised that your social capital can be considered one of your more invaluable assets toward achieving career goals and accomplishing action steps in your business marketing strategy.
You can create a solid foundation for your future success by cultivating a marketing mindset that understands the importance of collaborating with others in your social networks who have similar goals.
“Your net worth is not based on the size of your social network. However, it’s related to your ability to define and stay true to your passions and values as you collaborate with others.” — Porter Gale
Surround yourself with like-minded people who can become your “interpersonal safety net” as they help you overcome obstacles as you work toward achieving your professional marketing goals.
This article addresses several elements of Ms. Gale’s concepts on social networking.
Strengthen social media contacts
Focus on your social media contacts. Weed out unproductive relationships and cultivate ones that are positive and can help you reach Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in your marketing strategy.
Don’t get discouraged if you have less than 1,000 followers on your social media accounts. Having 500 engaged followers will be more beneficial to you than 10,000 followers that don’t engage.
There needs to be a method to your madness when connecting with people on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
For example, as a marketing professional, you should connect with others in your field. Follow people who have similar interests in networking and enhancing their social capital as well. As you consistently engage with like-minded professionals on social media, you should begin to see an increase in your network’s net worth.
Execute a targeted interpersonal strategy
Find ways to implement an interpersonal strategy that focuses on followers and connections as real people, not simply profiles you interact with online.
According to Brand Watch, “76% of women use social media and 72% of men are active on these platforms.” Brand Watch reported further data from Pew, Nielsen, Burst Media, and Finances Online, to show that women currently “rule social media today in several major areas.”
U.S. Women (30%) check their social media accounts more often daily than U.S. men, at 26%.
Studies show that 55% of women interact with brands online more than 36% of men who engage with social media accounts for companies and brands.
The fastest growing social media sites are Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, and “women drive the trends towards these more visual platforms.”
More women have accounts on major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook than men.
Tailor your social media posts and interactions with followers based on relational marketing strategies so you can maximize engagement with people.
The main objective in building your social capital is to cultivate strong relationships that are mutually beneficial to the growth of your marketing goals.
Always have a plan B
Social media changes daily. There are new trends. Different hashtags trend daily. If you want to increase your social net worth, you need to be plugged into the current pulse on social media and be ready with a plan B in mind.
Marketers and entrepreneurs who build their brands quickly are proactive in their networking efforts.
Back in the beginning of 2020—which seems eons ago—your brand marketing strategy was likely different than it is today. Then we got hit with the coronavirus pandemic. People died, many lost jobs, and others were deployed to work from home.
We suddenly found ourselves in a new normal.
Then George Floyd was murdered, and people rightly started protesting, then some protests turned to rioting.
Our world has definitely been surreal in the last several months.
If your marketing strategy didn’t have a plan B, your networking opportunities have likely evaporated before your eyes. Maybe a bit dramatic, but I hope you get the point that networking is never done—and you need to be flexible to meet the changing tides of the social media environment.
Networking with diversity
Be open-minded when planning your flexible marketing strategy.
We have a tendency to stick to what we know and connecting with people like us. However, that can hinder us from maximizing the potential of significantly improving our social media capital.
Cultivate online relationships with individuals who are different from you and may not necessarily fit the pre-determined mold you thought would want to connect with you or your brand.
According to Pew Research Center:
“Only 5% of American adults were active on social media in 2005. By 2011, that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today, 72% of the public uses some type of social media.
This chart from the Pew Research Center, shows various demographics who use social media platforms today.
Nurture current social network relationships
Increasing your social media capital takes work. If anyone tells you anything different, they’re lying.
When you neglect individuals, who are already part of your network, you can risk the entire framework falling apart at the seams.
For example, develop existing relationships you have with your former college classmates, former colleagues, and followers who consistently engage with you online.
One key reason to stay connected with these people is that they already have a relationship with you—whether in person or online—can vouch for your skillsets, work experience, and why they benefit from following your content on social media.
You do not need to start at ground zero with them like you do with new followers and associations online. This group of current connections should not be forgotten, and you should view them as the foundation of your social media capital expansion strategy.
Build authentic cooperative professional relationships
Fluff contacts and connections, like bots or followers that don’t engage authentically, should not be on your radar for cultivation. You are a professional marketer and don’t have time to waste.
Every action on social media platforms must be intentional if you expect to expand your net worth online.
Focus on cultivating genuine symbiotic relationships with individuals who want to scratch your back so you can scratch theirs.
If you’re only out for yourself, your social network won’t grow as quickly. Of course, you may have an article or tweet or Facebook post that goes viral—and gets major attention—and gain a significant number of new followers.
One example of that is someone I follow on Twitter, Dr. Karlyn Borysenko. She is an organizational psychologist, author, coach, and speaker. Back in February, she wrote an article published in Gen Medium detailing her experience as a liberal who attended a Trump rally. Her article went viral. She was on various talk radio shows like Glenn Beck.
Her follower count went from around 2,500 to 51.4K today within four months.
She is the exception to the rule.
Not every article you write is going to go viral and catapult you to social media stardom within a few months.
Sure, we can all dream.
However, in the meantime, focus on implementing these strategies to increase your social media capital.
Commit to daily networking
This process won’t be successful for you, if you don’t commit to daily networking.
Sure, my journey has moved more slowly as detailed in my article, How I got 235K Impressions on Twitter in One Month – My journey from 2,500 followers to 14,200 in 1 year.
However, I’ve committed to networking each day and actively engaging with followers online.
Commit to engaging with followers. You can do that effectively by asking questions.
That tweet got a variety of responses and 3,633 impressions, 391 engagements, 97 likes, 53 replies, 7 retweets, and 52 profile clicks.
Not necessarily a viral tweet, but a good response from one tweet—and I ask several questions each day and generally get similar engagement.
One step at a time
Implementing these elements from Porter Gale’s social capital marketing strategy can generate increased engagement results. You just need to make a consistent effort and not give up.
Previously published on Medium in The Startup.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.