Recommendation, referral and reputation: the three Rs of social capital (and the social media ecosystem)

So, we’re in an age now where, as Tara Hunt has so neatly said, social capital is the core value (forget cash, folks). What that translates into, practically, is a world where the three Rs rule–referral, recommendation and reputation.  I’ve written about these ideas in my recent white papers, but want to lay they out in a little more detail here, because I think they’re central to understanding how to function in our trashed economy and the culture emerging as everyone becomes digital.

First of all, it’s the three Rs that are going to keep you connected, making good choices, and earning money–or bartering–for what you need.

Recommendation: Back in the days when big media and mainstream media rules, and when information and authority were more centralized, we looked to experts to tell us what to do and what to buy. Dr Spock gave parenting advice. The New York Times analyzed events and laid out liberal politics. Consumer Reports evaluated products and issued rankings. And so forth.

Today, we’re in a world where what other people recommend–and what our friends and extended community think, say and do–drive our buying choices and lifestyle decisions more than any big brands or authorities. Whether it’s tweeting for tips on the Lazy Web of your friend network, posting a query, or resorting to peer reviews on Yelp and other services like it, we make decisions based on recommendations of people we are–or feel–connected to.

Referral: Do people really get hired for mid and senior level jobs just by sending in a resume? Don’t both job seekers and job fillers rely on a network of friends and colleagues to filter and sort jobs and resumes so the whole process is less random? And isn’t it true that 60% of most jobs don’t make it to a help wanted ad, relying instead on more informal connections between people?  In my experience, 98% of all consulting work comes through referral, usually from either people I know well or people who know my good friends. The friend/colleague network is powerful, and in tough times, is critical to having work.

Reputation: There is no hiding on the interwebs.  Not only is everything we ever post on line hard to retrieve, once it has been indexed by Google, leading to a digital case of inter-space junk, the good stuff we do is remembered, and the bad stuff is hard to hide. In a referral and recommendation system, your reputation–your whuffie and your social capital–mean a lot.

Like, a lot a lot.
So, what does this mean for you?

  • Understand social capital and the gift economy
  • Understand that we live in social media ecosystem and that having a digital foot print makes you show up proactively, instead of reactively
  • Understand that how you contribute and what you do play into how you are valued

So having said all that, here’s the PPT of the WAM09 session Deanna Zandt and I did on
SocialCapital-SocialMedia.pdf. Have at it.

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  1. Persistance says:

    per my twitter update, reframing my question here. my original question: are the three Rs here any different than the values that dominate status quo business methods?
    i ask because of my interest in encouraging new practices that promote business social responsibility, inclusive access, and triple bottom line sustainability. i see twitter as unique in being not primarily social, but a rich, open, knowledge and content based network.
    i see techniques and trends popping up that seem to port the “who ya know, not what ya know (or what ya do) culture, typical of existing business tactics, into an otherwise equal access based network.
    i would love to hear your take comparing the 3Rs to collaborative network measures such as transparency, reach, and influence

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