Social Equity is You

Since posting this idea last week as part of the Web ME.0 concept, I have been asked a few times about the term Social Equity. It seemed to be coming up often enough that I wanted to start working through a full description. Now, this idea in a state of evolution, so I cannot give you a concrete definition. I will provide a sense of the term.

Social Equity is the value you represent in the world. That is, you as a part of society have a value. Not only in a monitory sense, but also in an influence. It is the quality which allows you to make a choice and influence others based on your outcome. It is subjective and mercurial, but powerful and underrated.

That is ultimately what advertising campaigns want to capture. They know that a few choice words in the right ears will send brands catapulting to success or burning in flames. People at large are not the target of ad campaigns. They give us demographics to try and target. The reality is much more focused than the masses.

It does not matter really if every single 18 – 24 year old sees a commercial for a new show on MTV. What matters is if the right people see it, then tell their friends. Once that happens, it comes Social Equity. Soon a chain of people are informed and interested and the show goes on to be another mindless time waste in the annals of pop culture.

Or it does not. And there is the rub. Many people hear of upcoming releases, but often times it takes a passing grade from a trusted source before they bother. Yes, this means that someone needs to experience it first, which is who the advertiser is initially chasing. That brave soul to go in the uncharted water. That brave soul with enough Social Equity to sell the goods.

That’s what it comes down to. Companies seek that trusted spokesperson to make you believe you need / want / desire their recent release. Without that endorsement, products never really take off. They might perform well, but not the barn burners initially hoped. It takes you, and your Social Equity.

That is what needs to be understood. Your quality in the market place and what that means to companies. They do not need to target everyone in the world hoping to find you and your niche. You need to bring this information to them. They don’t need a single voice as their spokes person, they need an army.

And they need to pay for it.

I am a runner. I am not a marathoner, but I am a runner. I normally put in 20 – 30 miles a week. When I run, I wear Asics. Of all the shoes I have ever owned, they are consistently the most comfortable regardless of price point or model. I do wear the higher end because of the jolt on my knees from running requires better cushion. When I buy them, I go to a local store Peak Performance or to Sports Authority. I generally replace them after 400 – 500 miles.

Many of my friends who also run are not marathoners either. We do not read running magazines. We do not avidly follow running blogs. We do, however, talk. We share experiences and antic-dotes of our adventures running, shopping and all things in between. I found Asics through a friend of mine who I identify with, and bought them from the source he recommended. Since then, I have been a repeat customer. Asics marketing dollars didn’t catch me. It was the perceived Social Equity of my friend.

This is a simple example. However, suppose my friend had a network of people he shared this with. That network had their own networks and so on. Now his recommendation is traveling through paths and corridors with more pull than any advertising dollar could ever attain. Why shouldn’t he be compensated for being a trusted spokesperson?

How this would play out I cannot answer. I know companies pay money to blast banners all over popular sites to get ‘eyeballs.’ But let us be honest. Do you even notice ads really? Likely not. However, when you visit a friend’s page do you look at every thing on that page? Likely. Why don’t companies pay for that placement?

Clearly it has to do with no easily workable model for them to follow. Yet. It does start with you getting your own domain and starting a network. Not merely logging on to an existing one, but creating your own. This is loosely possible right now. Once you gather enough metric to show that people with interest in X, or even just enough people in general, visit your site you have leverage to approach companies.

They will not be paying such royalties that you can simply retire, but it does start to add up. Metrics can be provided by Google for starters. You can show them the same ROI as any other web presence shows them when setting your cost to them for you running their ad. You just need to start viewing your online involvement differently.

The idea of Social Equity has not been embraced because it is still new. We are told that we are consumers. That implies we need to be fed something. We are not seen as providers. As the one doing the feeding. That goes against the traditional role and view of advertising, which we have all come to understand.

But that’s the old model. My site has the potential of reaching an many eyeballs than any billboard, magazine, newspaper, television or radio program on the planet. But not being a company trying to sell something or gain market share, what I put out is personal preference. Something I believe in. Something I trust. And my visitors already like what I have to say. THAT is the type of eyeballs which should paid for.

This does not mean there is no more reason for stores or companies. Certainly company / news / review sites pull weight and should be used. There are numerous trusted providers out there influencing tastes and behavior patterns daily. They will always be sought after for that. I am proposing we all leverage our own Social Equity, and not just give away all of our market place pull.

This is not meant to be a complete document. It is to serve as a starting block for thoughts I and Joe Craig (twitter @joe_craig) have been developing for the past three and a half years (2008).

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