With the increase use of social media everyone seems to categorize its use into one dimension or another. Some categorize the value equations as social capital, reputation capital and a host of other names which are attempts to define the emerging value proposition.
These attempts reflect emphasis on the parts rather than the whole. You’ve heard the expression “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” which, in my humble opinion, should be how we view all the related knowledge gains being created by all this social stuff.
Brian Solis writes Social Capital: The Currency of the Social Economy: “Digital capitalization is laying a foundation for expanding the need to cultivate and participate, not only in the real world, but also in the online networks and communities that can benefit us personally and professionally.”
“Social capital is a strong ally, an elite catalyst for lucrative relationships, and now a metric for qualification, consideration and ultimately success (however you define it). This is a state of human economics that is thoroughly discussed in Tara Hunt’s book, The Whuffie Factor. Our “Whuffie” or social capital and intellectual assets are defined by both online and real world conduct and its “balance sheet” is available for anyone with a web browser to review, assess, and analyze.”
“Like any form of capital, Social capital rises and falls with the market and the individual to which it’s governed by the state of the industry and affected by the state of corresponding affairs. As it escalates, however, it unlocks opportunities that are commensurate with the community’s assessment of its value. In the same regard, the community will not support or reward lackluster, opportunistic, also-ran, or hollow engagement in the long term.”
“Again, social capital is measured by individual value and collective perception.”
What About the Other Parts?
I respect Brian Solis work and his never ending analysis of all things social. Brian’s knowledge and expertise is the paragon within the new arena of PR. However PR, and the implied “social capital”, represents a part of the whole. The whole can best be categorized as a system of knowledge, past present and future. The “parts of the system” represents each of our experiences, education, interactions and beliefs. Capital is produced when we exchange some or all of our parts when expressed in words, images, video’s and threaded in conversational exchanges. Brian’s post has sparked awareness that the emerging “social” system is in fact creating a new currency.
If we look at the parts of our human DNA we can see a system of intellectual, social, creative and spiritual capital. The combined iteration of each of these capital components with others, society and institutions creates life’s experiences, outcomes. Each of us carriers an inventory of knowledge that are subsets of each capital component. We draw on these subsets when we engage with the world. Not unlike the Encyclopedia Britannica our inventory of knowledge is our “book of life” and we use the contents to produce value on a daily basis, whether personal or professional.
Capital represents the value we produce using our knowledge assets. Our economic paradigms seek to gain a currency from use of our assets. Today the currency is in the form of a weak and weakening dollar. In the future the currency maybe something else but the capital behind the currency has and always will represent our individual knowledge assets. Our social capital is only one part of the whole but the whole is greater than the sum of our parts. Individually we are the parts, collectively we are the whole.