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social currency

How to Get Free Marketing With Social Currency

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” – Tom Fishburne

Do you strive to be perceived by your peers as cool, intelligent, and competent? A better question might be – who doesn’t?

Take a second to think about how you usually accomplish this – maybe it’s the way you dress, your hairstyle, or how you carry yourself. We choose to act and dress in ways that make us feel good, but we also make these decisions based off of how we want to be perceived by others.

Everybody has a desired identity, and this identity controls what car you drive, what shoes you buy, what music you listen to, and just about everything you share online. Think about it – when you post on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn, what message are you trying to convey to your audience?

On Friday night you might post clips of you partying to communicate to others that you have a social life and like to have fun. The following Monday you might post a photo of you receiving a scholarship or award that communicates your drive, ambition, and willingness to work hard.

This is all done in an attempt to gain what’s known as social currency – just as people use money to buy products or services, they use social currency to achieve desired impressions among their families, friends and colleagues.

Where are we going with this?

Your business, particularly your marketing department, should be leveraging social currency to get your customers and clients to market your products or services for you. In this article, we’ll examine the many ways you can build social currency to get free marketing and elevate your brand’s perception in the marketplace.

How to Build Social Currency

To build social currency, your business will have to provide at least one of the following dimensions to your customers:300px-Social_Currency_Levers

  • Affiliation – offer a sense of community, make them feel that they’re part of something greater
  • Conversation – engage in the customer conversation surrounding your brand
  • Utility – create utility and value 
  • Advocacy – foster the development of feelings of loyalty
  • Information – give valuable and shareable information
  • Identity – provide customers with their own identity in a group


Apple is an excellent example of a company that’s provided many of these dimensions to their customers, which is one of the primary reasons they have such a loyal following. The utility of their product is a main focus of theirs – just about anyone can pick an iPhone up and learn how to use it. In addition, their “Think Different” campaign gave Apple customers a sense of identity and affiliation they didn’t find with other brands. (img source)

When building your brand and creating marketing campaigns, keep these dimensions in mind – they’re your key to gaining social currency and building a stronger relationship with your customer base.

Free Marketing Using Social Currency

To become rich enough in social currency that your customers will market for you, you’ll have to find the answer to a potentially difficult question:

How do your customers want to be seen by others?


Understanding the desired identity of your customer base is critical to creating effective, easily shareable marketing campaigns. If you remember anything from this article, make sure it’s this – we like to share things that make us look good. The goal of your marketing department is to brand your business in such a way that your customers actively want to tell others about you. As Erich Joachimsthaler, the man who coined the term social currency puts it, “there is no value creation unless there are consumers that are willing to share.”

To illustrate this idea further, here’s an example of an effective marketing campaign that influenced customers to tell others about the company:

A company in the health and wellness industry offers monthly subscription boxes for people who enjoy yoga. The boxes are stocked with yoga books, healthy snacks, herbal creams, and recipes for the buyers to try. Now take a second to think – how would someone who purchases a subscription box for yoga lovers want to be perceived by others? Spiritual, healthy, crafty, and natural.

Receivers of the yoga box are more than happy to share their purchase with others because it fits how they want to be seen.

Screenshot 2019-08-25 At 8.55.24 PMSocial currency doesn’t only have to relate to retail either – here at ORS Partners we focus on marketing some of the exciting aspects of working for our team on our social media pages to build social currency.

Sharing snapshots of the pups that come in for Dog Boss Fridays and highlighting the after-hour events and volunteer work we do is one simple way we build social currency for our brand. Because of these perks, our employees are happy to share all of the great things that come with working at ORS.


Achieving the same may be more or less difficult depending upon your industry, but the point stands – determining how your customers want to be seen by others is crucial to creating marketing that’s share-worthy. Remember, we share things that make us look good. Once you discover the desired identities of your customers and what they share to make themselves look good, you can craft your shareable marketing campaigns with this in mind, gaining free marketing and social currency along the way.


How do you gain social currency in your industry? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages letting us know what you think! 


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