Social Capital: All You Need Is a Content Strategy and Work Ethic

social capital meter for reputation management graphic

In our hyperconnected world, the essence of any brand is not just its product or its price, but its humanity. We’re all craving something authentic, something real. Social capital, in its most genuine form, is the embodiment of this craving. It’s the relationships a brand builds with its community. This entails seeing your customers not as numbers on a spreadsheet but as individuals with dreams, desires, and needs, just like you. It’s about empathy.

Social capital for a brand refers to the goodwill, trust, and relationships it builds with its audience, customers, and other stakeholders. It’s not a tangible asset like money or physical property, but it holds immense value.

So how do you build your social capital? The only two things you need to build social capital are a good content strategy and an insane work ethic. For the most part, your success should be intentional. 

For a step-by-step guide on building your brand’s social capital, here’s what you should do:

  1. Show Up to Give, Not to Receive
  2. Engage Authentically
  3. Reach Out to People Who Interest You
  4. Open Up Possibilities for Partnerships and Collaborations
  5. Join or Create Communities
  6. Build Your Personal Brand
  7. Be Delusionally Optimistic

BUT WAIT! Don’t go running off to buy another Facebook ad campaign just yet. Just to be clear – building social capital isn’t about how many likes or followers you can amass; it’s about creating meaningful relationships with your customers. It’s the spark in their eyes when they see your logo, the way they feel like they’re part of something bigger.

Please don’t throw money at ads or post flashy pictures online. Interact with your followers the same way you would talk to a good friend of yours. I mean, wouldn’t you rather be a brand that feels like a good friend instead of a pushy salesman?

How to Build Social Capital With a Content Strategy and an Insane Work Ethic

When “going viral” is your benchmark for success, truth be told, you’re setting your brand up for failure. Success doesn’t usually work that way. Even if it does happen once, it’s a lightning strike – rare, unpredictable, and almost impossible to replicate.

Building social capital, particularly in a digital marketing landscape, isn’t about chasing viral sensations or acquiring fame overnight. Again – and heads up, I’ll be saying this repeatedly – all you need to build social capital for your brand is a content strategy and an insane work ethic.

A Good Content Strategy

  • Understand your audience: Know who you’re talking to. Dive deep into the needs, desires, and challenges of your target audience. Empathy isn’t about telling people what you think; it’s about understanding what they feel.
  • Create valuable content: Value is subjective, but it’s universally respected. Offer solutions to real problems, insights into complicated matters, or entertainment in a way that resonates with your audience. 
  • Consistency is key: Trust takes time to build and is easily lost. Be consistent in both the quality and quantity of your content. Let people know they can rely on you.

An Insane Work Ethic

  • Have passion for excellence: An insane work ethic doesn’t mean working yourself into the ground but, rather, relentlessly pursuing quality and never settling for mediocrity. Excellence in your work not only reflects well on you but also makes others feel that they are receiving something special.
  • Commit to learning: There’s no shortcut here. The digital landscape is forever changing. Keep abreast of new techniques, tools, and best practices. 
  • Show up for your audience: Social capital is all about relationships. Respond to comments, engage with your audience, and be there for them. 

Pro tip: The pursuit of viral fame is fleeting and often shallow. Building social capital with a good content strategy and an insane work ethic is about constructing something far more profound and lasting. It’s a blend of expertise, empathy, and exertion, carefully crafted over time.

7 Tips to Increase Your Social Capital

Social capital refers to the connections, relationships, and networks that brands and communities have with one another. It’s not something you can touch or see, but it’s as real as the money in your bank account.

Think of social capital as the connective tissue between the brand and its community. It’s the way people feel about your brand, the trust they have in it, and the willingness to engage with and advocate for it. It’s built through consistent, honest interactions, delivering on promises, and truly understanding and responding to the needs and wants of the community.

Social capital turns a brand from a faceless entity into a trusted friend or partner.

Here’s how you can enhance your brand’s social capital:

1. Show Up to Give, Not to Receive

You know that old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive?” It’s truer than ever when it comes to social capital. Approach every interaction with the intention of offering something – whether it’s a kind word, advice, or support. People can sense when you’re there for them, not just for what they can give you. 

Example: Offer to mentor someone starting out in your industry without expecting a favour in return.

2. Engage Authentically

Have you ever met someone and felt an instant connection? That’s what engaging authentically is all about. Drop the pretences and masks. Speak and act in a way that reflects the true values, beliefs, and personality of the brand.

Example: Avoid canned responses when replying to your audience. Humanise the interaction by practising open communication.

3. Reach Out to People Who Interest You

You’ve got to take the initiative sometimes. Reach out to people who genuinely interest you, without any hidden agenda. Just a simple, “Hey, I admire your work, and I’d love to connect.” Do it right, and some of these cold messages will blossom into beautiful friendships.

Example: Send a personalised collaboration request to a social media influencer you admire.

4. Open Up Possibilities for Partnerships and Collaborations

When a brand teams up with another company or individual, it’s like joining forces to do something cool together. Imagine two musicians from different bands creating a hit song. They reach more fans, show that they can work together, and create something fresh and exciting.

That’s what partnerships and collaborations can do for a brand. It helps the brand connect with more people, and shows that they’re open to new ideas and working with others. It’s a way to make the brand more likeable and trustworthy in the eyes of the people it wants to reach.

Example: Form a synergy with complementary brands.

5. Join or Create Communities

Your vibe attracts your tribe.

You know that feeling when you find your tribe? People who really get you? You can do the same for your brand. You can build a home where people aren’t just customers, they’re friends. Make sure they feel a sense of belonging by listening to them.

Example: Start a club that’s related to your business. For example, a camera brand can initiate a local photography club.

6. Build Your Personal Brand

This is who you are and what you stand for. Think of it like your reputation with your friends. If you’re known for being honest, supportive, and fun, people will want to hang out with you. Building your brand is the same. If your brand stands for something meaningful and consistent, people will want to engage with it.

Example: Consistently publish articles about causes you believe in.

7. Be Delusionally Optimistic

Sometimes, you’ve got to believe in something so strongly that it seems a bit crazy – and to be fair, that’s what you need to do as a business owner. You have to cheer for the underdog (which is you). This sort of optimism can be contagious and inspiring. It shows that you’re passionate and driven, and that can create a connection that goes beyond just selling a product.

Sometimes the world might tell you it’s impossible, but keep that spark of optimism alive – no matter how much the odds may seem to be against you.

Example: Set clear, ambitious goals. Pursue a big project that seems out of reach but aligns with your long-term vision.

Pro tip: It’s worth noting that social capital is often slow to build and easy to lose. One wrong move can erode trust, but consistent, empathetic engagement can lead to a loyal and engaged audience.

Related article:

Beyond 5 Stars: The Art of Online Reputation Management

Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Think about it. In a world where success is often measured by bank accounts and material possessions, we often forget the intrinsic value of relationships. Social capital isn’t about using people or making connections for personal gain. It’s about building genuine, empathetic relationships where both parties grow, learn, and benefit.

In many ways, relationships are the real currency of life. Consider the times when you’ve felt stuck or needed advice. Wasn’t it a friend, a mentor, or a professional connection that provided the perspective or support you needed? That’s the power of social capital.

At Manifest Website Design, we’ve taken this truth to heart. That’s why we design spaces – or in this case, websites – where people can connect with brands like they do with friends. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your website felt like a friendly chat rather than a sales pitch? That’s exactly what we do. So if you ever need help with that, feel free to ask us anything about your brand’s reputation management.



About the Author

Jillian has over 30 years of experience in technology, programming, and digital marketing. Her work with the stock exchange in Australia, as well as other large corporations, has given her invaluable business expertise.

At Manifest Website Design, she helps goal-driven entrepreneurs build their business, regardless of size and industry, using the power of the internet. She’ll walk alongside you every step of the way, making sure that your website is running smoothly, and most importantly, generating leads. Connect with her on LinkedIn.