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Capitalizing on Social Capital – Summing Up Day Two at SXSW

On Monday we were honored to be a part of the SXSW panel, “Social Capital: The Billion Dollar Digital Future” along with an esteemed group of panelists including Bill Parkes, EVP chief digital officer at nFusion, Richard Margetic, director of global social media at Dell, Zach Hofer-Shall, analyst at Forrester Research and our very own Mike Spataro, vice president of enterprise strategy.

Bill opened the panel presentations by defining social capital in the digital world as “the value derived from a person or a brand’s collective digital presence – including their social graphs, level of influence, and use of digital social networks characterized by trust, reciprocity, and scale.” He also outlined three forces driving it:

  • Accelerating Change – the non linear, but rather exponential rate at which technology is being created and changed.
  • Overwhelming Complexity – the overload of social noise and information.  As the volume grows, our reliance on mobile devices, small computers and social graphs to filter out the noise and deliver only the information we want will continue to grow.
  • Evolution – the current social tools are primitive, but evolving rapidly and iterating in months and in some cases days.  This accelerated rate of tool evolution will radically shift what’s possible in the future.

He closed by stating that we are at the dawn of a new era, the era of social capital – it’s only a matter of time when these factors converge.

Next up was Zach Hofer-Shall form Forrester.  He also commented on the vast volume of social noise and the infancy of technology, especially when it comes to determining influence, but primarily focused on why social capital is important for marketers and consumers.  He stated that marketers can’t compete with consumers’ social capital since “we trust each other, not marketing” when it comes to purchase decisions – but that marketers and brands can embrace it’s power and use social capital to:

  • Drive Influence marketing
  • Inform targeted research
  • Enable scalable customer engagement

He further stressed that social capital will mean smart and scalable segmentation, the ability to leverage automated data analysis, connect to customer data bases and will require adaptive and customer centric strategies.



Mike expanded on Zach’s point about marketers not being able to compete with consumer’s social capital, but can embrace its power by focusing on the critical role online consumer influence plays in social capital calling “social influence the killer app to social capital.”  He discussed how identifying influencers has been challenging due to technology that’s “not there yet” and a lack of standards, as well as the growing importance of social influence, the benefits it can bring to brands and how they can identify it.  He finished by talking about the future of social influence and capital.  He sees the next phase of influence, or as he puts it, “Consumer Influence 2.0” as “the age of confluence” where there is:

  • An Intersection of online and offline consumer data and intelligence
  • Game changing technology integration: semantic and social
  • Behavior mapping across communities and channels

Ultimately he sees predicative analysis as the “Holy Grail” for social influence.

Mike covered a lot of ground in his presentation if you’d like to see his full presentation you can view it here.

Finally, Richard wrapped things up by discussing social media’s infancy and how Dell manages their social capital by monitoring, tracking and measuring their social presence, credibility and reputation.  He also pointed out that as social influence and capital evolves, the voice of marketing needs to change to a more conversational tone and involve internal SME’s  who can really engage with influencers, stating “it’s not about the sale, it’s about the relationship.”

There was so much great information discussed in this session I feel in some ways I’ve only scratched the surface.  We videotaped parts of the presentation and interviewed some of the panelists and audience members so stay tuned for video highlights!

Tags : social media

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