Deconstructing Social Currency

How do brands create valuable social currency?

The concept of social currency is often discussed in the brand and advertising world – campaigns are tasked with creating social currency  for their brands, as a means of inserting them into the cultural conversation and theoretically generating more sustainable awareness than that generated by a standard TV commercial or promotional driver. While the need for a brand to develop  “emotional engagement” with consumers is broadly recognized as key to long-term viability – the question of how, and what constitutes a positive “emotionally engaging experience” – is  more nebulous.

Vivaldi Partners CEO Erich Joachimsthaler has co-authored a study on social currency – here defined as the extent to which people share the brand or information about a brand as part of their everyday social lives, or at home. Given recent findings that about 78% of consumers trust recommendations from others – vs. from brands – the study aims to help brands find new, more effective ways of engaging consumers. Vivaldi dimensionalizes social media by proposing six key levers of varying importance, and provides case studies on how particular brands have succeeded (or not) in generating social currency by delivering on some of these key levers. Case study brands include Toyota, Clinique, Burger King, Amazon, Apple and Google, amongst others. You might be surprised by who the study found to be successful with particular campaigns (i.e., Clinique) vs. who wasn’t (Burger King).

Some key insights from Vivaldi’s study include:

  • Social currency is a means, not an end – what matters in meaningful social currency: generating buzz or conversation does not equal success, if the buzz doesn’t add to your brand’s value, nor translate into business results
  • The relative importance of the six social currency dimensions (identity, affiliation, conversation, information, advocacy and utility) depends on a number of factors: the stage of brand development, the nature of the market of either consumers or customers, the category and industry, and others
  • Context matters. Specifically, the nature and context in which a brand is consumed/used. For example, a product that is consumed socially (i.e., beer, alcohol) may have a natural advantage towards enabling social currency, vs. a personal care brand. That said, an advantage doesn’t always equal success.

Vivaldi has made the full report available to readers via a dedicated site, or directly here.

[via: Vivaldi Partners]

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