Harvard professor, Robert Putnam, says social capital entails “specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks.”
Relationships have value that can increase or decrease based on your actions. Regardless of whether you are organizing a Giving Circle or selling a product, there are several steps to take that create social capital. There are also a few things to avoid that can deplete social capital.
Social capital is one of the reasons organizations and companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages. The more indexed webpages, the more legitimate action you get.
What does it take to build social capital?
People will eventually see past a pure sales pitch or friendliness aimed at purely getting something. Be honest about what you want someone to do, e.g. buy your product, volunteer, give to a cause. Explain in just a few words why you think the action would benefit them as well as the recipient. Be specific about when and how they need to take action. Then back off and let them decide. You can follow-up at a later time.
- Be Valuable
Think first about how you can add value to the person you wish to reach. How can you help them. Blogs are great sales tools when the blogger is focused on creating valuable content. A blog implies information, not sales pitch. Unless you are a famous trend setter, don’t talk about yourself in the blog.
Use images and words backed by evidence that describe why taking action will be good for the individual as well as the business or organization offering.
Don’t disappoint people by not delivering on your promise. The promise can be implied or direct regarding who you are, the greatness of your product/service, time, etc.
Mistakes or accidents happen. Own up to them, and most people will give you another chance.
Chronic over promise or undelivered promise results in squandered social capital.
What depletes social capital?
Disregard for the individual is the primary thing that causes people (businesses, organizations) to zero out their social capital account. Don’t attempt to sell a blind man color TV. Don’t call your cash-strapped friends over for a “free lunch” and try to sell them expensive cosmetics.
People will often buy or give when they don’t really perceive a personal payoff, if they trust (have social capital with) the offeror. But if they sense a bait and switch or a slight of hand, they will put up a protective barrier. The result is lost social capital.
An unfortunate example of misusing and misunderstanding social capital is the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare). The Obama Administration banked on the social capital they held with their supporters (especially young Americans) to roll out a website and product that didn’t deliver what had been promised.
They failed to take individuals into account and viewed their supporters as a collective, willing to buy anything.
Always be authentic, trustworthy, and offer value.