The Evolution from Social Media to Relationship Capital

There is a quote recycled on occasion on Twitter that is attributed to me. It’s goes like this:

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” ~David Alston

It does sum up my view of social. Yes social media can be an engagement channel, a source of insight or a content distribution network. For me it’s magic has always been around the topic of relationships. The discovery, building and maintaining of relationships. Social media has done a great job reminding businesses about the power of relationships. It’s also shown business leaders that while sales and customer service are paid to focus on relationships, many in an organization also can play an important role. We have never been as connected as individuals as we are right now, and we are often forming these relationships based on our passions and interests and less around only geography.

So, it should come as no surprise that my next startup adventure would be all about the power of these relationships. Actually, we are referring to it as relationship capital to be more specific. For me, relationship capital is similar to that other term we often hear, social capital, but its more inclusive. The term not only covers relationship connections across social, but also those nurtured and captured in email, calendar events and in a CRM. The “capital” aspect covers who these connections are, the strength of the bond between them, and how relevant they are to any specific situation – including our jobs. You can also equate the sum of this relationship capital across an entire organization, all the while protecting each person’s privacy and making their participation a choice.

This is the space Introhive plays in, and it’s where I’ve found my new home. I am joining two other co-founders, Jody Glidden and Stewart Walchli, and nearly 18 other superstars as co-founder and CMO. I have been spoiled before working with amazing talent at Radian6/Salesforce, so I was more than pleased when I met Jody and Stewart. Great guys, successful entrepreneurs, no egos and super smart. And to top it all off, we’ve also assembled some of that wicked-awesome Radian6 talent here at Introhive, including our VP of Marketing, Rob Begg, and VP Sales, Rich McInnis. It is truly amazing to work with people you love, while forging ahead with a passionate community to help create a brand new space.

So I look forward to bumping into many familiar faces while out making friends with new ones. So, got an opinion on relationship capital and the potential it holds for any organization? Please let me hear about it here or @davidalston.

Comments (12)

Well said, David. The greatest significance of social media isn’t the democratization of publishing. Instead, it lies beyond that, in the affect this new found voice and ability to connect has on our expectations, attitudes and behaviours in connecting with people. It’s all about the relationships. I’m looking forward to what you come up with. Mark me down as keen to explore it.

Thanks Joe for the comment and the offer to explore and provide feedback on what we are up to. Definitely will take you up on that offer.

Good luck David! Sounds like an awesome opportunity.

I think relationship capital is becoming increasingly important, just as content marketing was a few years back and continues to be. I think relationship marketing might be the future and lots of apps are starting to get it and head in that direction. You guys are certainly pioneering that trail.

Hey thanks Geoff. The interesting part is that relationships have always been important since the dawn of time. The great thing about today is that some many of them have a digital footprint and technology is able to unlock and weave them together like never before. Exciting times.

Good luck to all of you!
This is an interesting idea and with the direction the world is travelling in regards to social media it’s a part of the puzzle that was missing.

Thanks for the best wishes Melinda. We are definitely looking to fill that gap.

Congratulations on the move David – Introhive looks as though it will be a powerful platform and I look forward to hearing more about it. I am especially interested in how to can unlock relationship capital from within an organisation.

Thanks Krishna. I hope all is well with you across the pond.

Paul Greenberg mentioned your name to me, I was interested to learn more about your project. Looks interesting and thought provoking.


Hey thanks Jeff. Paul’s a great guy and I’m glad he shares a bit about us. You guys have been doing some pretty cool things over at GetSatisfaction as well.

Hey David,
I look forward to seeing the honey you gather from the hive. I have always been intrigued by the idea of relationship capital and what Tara Hunt called whuffie. Wishing you and your colleagues much success. My best!

Hey there Janet. Thanks so much. Great reminder on Tara’s book. I should definitely refresh myself on it. All the best. David.

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