The 'Social Currency' Final Four

For starters, the industry is titled 'social' media for a reason, and should not be mistaken for 'published' media.
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I travel around the country going to one social media conference after another, and I can confidently tell you that 'cultivating long-term relationships' is an increasingly trending topic in today's social media discussions. Naturally, the question becomes how exactly can entities increase loyalty while attempting to build strong and meaningful relationships? Well, for starters, the industry is titled 'social' media for a reason, and should not be mistaken for 'published' media.

Social advertising and publishing are great for awareness, but don't do much for building loyalty. At the same time, from an engagement standpoint, the overwhelming majority of entities on social media are in mere reactive mode -- addressing mentions as they come through. However, considering there's an incredible amount of information about us available online, some of the best opportunities to engage are available before many of your targets even say a word.

The phrase "humanizing the brand" has been exhausted in use, but although the words may have been over-spoken, marketers have failed to fully embrace the concept in full. As originally described in The Fortune 500 Social Currency Index, 'Social Currency' represents the value associated with a variety of subtle social touchpoints such as Follows, Favorites, Retweets and Lists that entities can 'hand out' to target individuals. In turn, this free form of currency can reap tremendous benefits from increasing perception, loyalty and ultimately impacting your bottom line.

Most recently, I led a study on behalf of Insightpool reviewing the Universities selected to participate in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and their usage of Social Currency.


After collecting all of the associated publicly available data, we whittled the original field of 68 participants down to the Social Currency Final Four:

  • The University of Cincinnati
  • San Diego State University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • The University of Wisconsin

Fittingly, Wisconsin made it to the official Final Four as well -- as the popular basketball idiom goes, they must be firing on all cylinders.

In general, The Final Four Social Currency Index was intended to deliver a deeper analysis on how Universities are leveraging Twitter and the wide array of touchpoints the platform facilitates. Follows, Favorites, Retweets, and Lists provide great opportunities for entities to engage with their top targets. In the University community, these targets could include prospective students, athletic recruits, existing students, alumni and more.

As Wendy Clark, SVP at Coca Cola, puts it, "Be share-worthy in everything you do." 'Social Currency' is an easy and inexpensive way to make somebody's day -- just look at some of the reactions that we included in this infographic:

With the Final Four set to tip off tomorrow night, we'll see if Wisconsin can translate their social media supremacy to the hardwood. Moving forward, it is my hope that every university (and any entity for that matter) fully embraces the notion of 'Social Currency,' and builds it into their social media strategy. It can only help.

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