Guest Post: Derek Laney talked last week about the BizAcademy workshop the Salesforce Foundation ran at the start of September.  One of the guests who joined Alethea Josephson (@tillyjosephson) and her team to provide those exceptional students with some additional guidance and mentoring was Dr Tim Rayner.  Tim is an author, lecturer at the University of Sydney and a film maker and has invested a great deal of thought in what makes up social influence and capital.  He recently led a course at the University about Philosophy and Social Media (#philsocial) - which I myself derived a great of value from.  He has kindly agreed to volunteer his thoughts on the subject of Social Capital for the Salesforce Down Under Blog, for which we are very grateful:

"I was thrilled to join the BizAcademy Fishbowl event at HQ last week. It was a great panel of speakers and a generous audience - a real blast! The topic was online influence and how to create it. While it is easy to beat up on Klout for the way it measures influence, it is clear that the capacity to create buzz is of major interest to marketers and anyone else who wants to make a splash online. Chatting with the BizAcademy participants and interns helped me get clear on how influence is related to the idea of social capital - and also where these two ideas come apart.

Social capital a is broader concept than influence. Influence is basically the ability to move content online. Social capital refers to the overall value that one derives from one's networks, which can be economic and social in nature. People with 'strong tie' networks rely on them for security and support in addition to being able to circulate and discover ideas and promote their values and goods. The 'weak tie' networks that we form online enable us to bridge communities of knowledge and influence and pick up on ideas and memes from outside out of echo chambers. 

While our online networks can and often do produce economic value for us, this is only part of their overall value, all things considered. Ultimately, social capital is a measure of existential value - a measure of how your online networks enrich your whole life and person.

Anyone can have influence on the social web - the question is how to achieve it. The answer is to build your social capital. This happens to be good news for social media prosumers, because building social capital online is (or at least should be) fun! The easiest way to build social capital is to start with a rich and extensive network of offline friends and followers. Celebrities hardly have to work at creating an online presence - they simply sign up to Twitter and bask in the glow of their popularity. For the rest of us, building social capital take a little more work. Fortunately it is fulfilling work, for the most part. It is a matter of identifying those things that we love in the world and expressing that love through our posts, tweets, likes, comments, and shares.

Social media is a gift culture. The more we give, in terms of valuable content, resonant perspectives, and personal affirmations of value, the more we stand to grow our tribes and communities online. As @markwschaefer says, we need to be authentic, express our true personality, and tell stories that inspire our tribes. This is how we build social networks that enrich our life and person. 

The way to create influence on the social web is - be social! Influence emerges off the back of social capital. This can be a hard lesson for marketers who are looking for a quick and easy way to push new brands and products through social media. The solution is to identify the authentic values represented by the brands or products and to push them instead. Tweet the love. Build your being and the buzz will follow."

Read more on what he calls "the gift shift" at Dr Rayner's blog.  What do you think?  Tell us in the comments below...