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Why should brands focus on building social currency?

Brands with huge social capital enjoy many benefits especially in a market as challenging as India. In a low-trust economy, it is difficult for new brands to carve out a space for themselves and compete with established names that can disrupt any niche very quickly. People tend to gravitate towards names they know like Reliance and Tata which is why they sell everything from clothes and cars to salt and more. Becoming a brand that customers can trust and even recommend requires building a community of customers who are willing to stake their reputation on you.

When people trust you, people are ready to buy more and more products from you. Revante Bhate speaks about this in the podcast ‘Barbershop with Shantanu Deshpande‘ about how difficult it is to grow from 1 to 10 and 10 to 100 in India as the ‘market lacks depth’ and 10 copycats will undercut you the moment your basic product is ready if a big brand doesn’t do it first. Kunal Shah, founder of CRED, echoes these views saying how it is important to build a foot-in-the-door strategy to sell customers one product and then come back with another instead of trying to build an all-in-one Swiss knife that your customers never use. Therefore building a connection with your customers is the only way to cement your relationship.

The question is HOW?

Word of mouth is still the strongest form of advertising. Look at the success of every D2C brand in recent times, the underdogs, the success of whom has confounded traditional marketers still counting eyeballs reached. The reason for their stupendous success lies in how they showed consumers that a problem exists, they have a solution and turned their customers into marketers. That last part is the key.

Can you make your consumers brag about your product?

This is important because almost all your customers are of a specific demographic (age, income, taste etc). Chances are, most of their friends are too. Cracking the right customers who will talk about you can create more than one sale.

How to get the right people to talk about your brand?

It is easy to think Apple does it but not every brand can’t match Apple’s ingenuity nor afford their marketing spending. The same goes for Nike, Starbucks, and every brand people swear by. Even after a bad user experience. What about brands like Derma Co, Bewakoof, boAt, Chumbak? It is rare to find their advertisement because they thrive on their users to advertise them. Customers would recommend their products and even brag about it on social media. Moreover, their social media are practically curated lists of your target audience (their social circle) as most of their friends are of similar spending habits, tastes, and demographics. That is why they shared it amongst them. Marketing pundits write it off as organic growth- something you cannot actively achieve- but there is a method to the madness.

These brands entered the daily vocabulary of their customers. They found a place in their social media posts because the use of their products earned their customers ‘social currency’. By showing their friends these choices, they tacitly told their friends I have good taste. Any brand can do this today if you can give your users a reason to put you on their social media. This is where WYLD comes in.

We identify high-quality Instagram users with high WYLD scores (an AI enabled scoring system tracking engagement, following, posting frequency etc of every Instagram account; like a credit score for social presence). Not just ‘influencers’ but every public social media profile because we believe everybody has a circle of influence or social currency. We incentivise our users to tag our 100+ partner brands in their stories and posts helping them earn recommendations organically.

Why this works?

  • People are very careful of what they say in public. They say things that make them look good.
  • Watching a friend’s Instagram is one of the places they don’t expect things to be sold to them (that is why influencers’ sponsored posts have lower likes than organic content).
  • Selling to everyone is selling to no one. Reaching the right customers can drastically reduce Customer Acquisition Costs.

The consumer today is overdosed on information. She sees advertisements everywhere she goes, every marketplace, every website, every source of entertainment. It is incredibly difficult to sell in that kind of competition. Social media presence alone is not enough today. Brands need to become likeable, shareable and reliable by entering the everyday conversations of your target audience.


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