“Social currency is like a good joke. When a bunch of friends sit around and tell jokes, what are they really doing? Entertaining one another? Sure, for a start. But they are also using content -- mostly unoriginal content that they've heard elsewhere -- in order to lubricate a social occasion. And what are most of us doing when we listen to a joke? Trying to memorize it so that we can bring it somewhere else. The joke itself is social currency. "Invite Harry. He tells good jokes. He's the life of the party."
Think of this the next time you curse that onslaught of email jokes cluttering up your inbox. The senders think they've given you a gift, but all they really want is an excuse to interact with you. If the joke is good enough, this means the currency is valuable enough to earn them a response.
That's why the most successful TV shows, web sites, and music recordings are generally the ones that offer the most valuable forms of social currency to their fans. Sometimes, like with mainstream media, the value is its universality. In the US right now, the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" is enjoying tremendous ratings because it gives its viewers something to talk about with one another the next day. It's a form of mass spectacle. And, not coincidentally, what is the object of the game? To demonstrate one's facility with a variety of forms of social currency! Contestants who can answer a long stream of questions about everything from sports and movies to science and history, are rewarded with a million dollars. They are social currency champions.”
It’s got me thinking … what kinds of social currency do libraries offer via their digital presence and how can we create more valuable currency to keep our customers saying “Check out the library. It’s the life of our community.”