“Your connections are currency,” said Randi Zuckerberg.

Speaking at DemandSuccess, the author, entrepreneur, and former Facebook executive gave a terrific talk that touched on everything from hackathons to the maker movement.

In talking about how connections are currency, Zuckerberg was referring specifically to the trend around giveaways in exchange for social juice. Share with your connections, and you just might get rewarded with free stuff.

Examples abound of social juice in action.

Social juice is why, for example, the “mayor” of your local Starbucks on Foursquare may get an occasional free latte. It’s why Birds Eye waived the bill at its new pop-up restaurant for people who posted images of their food on Instagram. (And, in the process, encouraged “foodstagramming.”) It’s why there’s an iPhone app that rewards people with 500 or more Instagram connections.

And it’s why Vocus awarded an iPad to the person with the most #DemandSuccess tweets over the course of the conference.

Social currency isn’t a new idea.

We’ve always valued connections. Think customer service, referral networks, sales. What’s changed is the ease with which people can tap into their networks. Post a picture. Send a tweet. Boom! Your brand gets instant buzz.

I call this amplification marketing.

Zuckerberg was talking about the value to customers. The reward here is easy to quantify, notably free stuff and/or rock star status. It’s an incentive-based quid pro quo.

Should your business go there? Maybe. Trading in social juice is a strategy; like all strategies, you need to carefully think through your goals and whether it’s the right approach.

Amplification marketing doesn’t have to have a quid pro quo.

The best likes, mentions, tweets, recommendations, and referrals happen when you’re awesome. Your product is great. Your service is terrific. Your event is fun. Your mission matters.

Your connections are currency, but how you leverage them is still up to you.

Photo by Vocus.

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