Media theorist and One+ columnist Douglas Rushkoff began discussing social currency decades ago, at a time in which many critics thought the Internet was a fad. (FWIW, those critics were wrong while Rushkoff still accurately prophesizes how humans will communicate and interact with one another.)
Taking the audience through a crash course of discovery with social currency, Rushkoff aptly illustrated the situation in terms of baseball cards and their associated stale gum (or vice versa, as it were). Packs of gum came with a single baseball card, giving way to packs of baseball cards with a piece of gum, giving way to packs of cards sans gum. The cards, he says, possessed/inspired a greater degree of social currency than the original product (gum)—cards could be traded and came with data (player/team stats), encouraging more social interaction.
“Social currency is the excuse to interact,” he told the 9 a.m. crowd.
As the Q&A element of the session progressed, an audience member inquired as to which businesses are building social currency properly.
“Companies that are willing to undulate with markets rather than require growth,” Rushkoff said. “The ones that use social media to promote their culture rather than their products.”
He later predicted that the professionalization of our personal lives will grow to the point of people knowing you as a brand.
“I used to be able to look at my inbox,” he said. “Now, I can’t.”
On engaging constituents: “There are very few ways to get people to do stuff,” Rushkoff said, suggesting one way to heighten engagement in the social mediasphere is to work with prominent social media personalities in your field. The growth must be organic from a true social component of your industry, not an obvious shill. He added that not every organization needs to be directly active on social media, reminding the crowd that true social media activity comes from your fans/audience/members/attendees.
On the corruption of communication methods: “One of the reasons I got involved with MPI is that I think long-distance communications will eventually be corrupted to the point of being useless. At the same time, my faith that human-to-human contact will solve the problems we have has grown.”
On the future of social media: “Once you’re friends with everyone, what’s the point?” He says people will leave Facebook once a level of saturation is reached (which many think has already happened).
“Sorry, but it doesn’t get fun again,” he closed, referring specifically to Facebook.