Social Currency refers to the pull, or influence, that a consumer has amongst their peer group.

As marketers we have all witnessed the rise of influencer marketing and understand how social currency now plays such a vital role in the marketing mix. Experts predict that the influencer economy could reach $15 billion by 2022, with the lion’s share of these dollars are going to high profile models, celebrities, self-made internet stars, and niche content creators.

But why are we not doing more to unlock the social currency of regular people?

Experiential marketing can help unlock the social currency in the pocket of everyone, and doing so would require only small changes from how most experiential activations are run. Think about your experiences with brands at street level. What did you have to do to get that sample,  have your picture taken in an immersive setup, or to play a game that could land you an awesome prize? Nothing right? You most likely just had to be present.

Peer to peer influence has never been a bigger factor in purchase decisions than it is right now. We get constant feeds of what our friends and connections are doing, eating, watching and liking. We must do a better job of harnessing this. Far too often as experiential marketers we don’t get imaginative enough when considering strategies to expand the reach of our activations. We slap a hashtag on signage, encourage consumers to post about their experience, and hope they do. Why aren’t we demanding they post with that hashtag in exchange for a product or an experience? Who ever decided that experiential marketing was all about giving the consumer something for nothing?

Its time we re-imagine the way we build experiences.

Without a social currency based payment structure in place we are really doing nothing more than putting t-shirts in a cannon and firing them off in to the ether. Social media provides us with an opportunity to leap out of the dark ages of XM. We now have a means to reach an exponential number of people with every sample, piece of branded merchandise or experience offered.

Here are three easy ways to start leveraging the power of your consumers’ social currency –

    1. Exchange a post for a product/sample – Lets say you are a snack based CPG and are planning a sampling campaign. Instead of handing your product to every person that walks by ask interested consumers to take a picture of themselves with product and post it to one of their social networks with specific brand messaging. That post is their payment for the product. If they are really interested in what you have to offer they won’t mind taking a few moments to do as you ask.


    1. Offer a real-time discount based on posts and interactions – Your agency has been asked to execute a pop-up shop offering exclusive merchandise from a major musician. Why not encourage consumers to reach out to their social network while in the shop to help them decide what to buy. Based on their number of followers and interactions on their post devise a discount. The greater the reach, the more interactions on the post, the more money the consumer saves.


  1. Exchange a post for exclusive access – Experiential marketing activations tend to be open to everyone, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Why not charge admission to the experience in the form of a social post? Consumers would simply make a post regarding what they are about to experience to gain entry. The advantages of this is that only people truly interested in your offering will engage, (meaning you aren’t wasting efforts on someone simply seeking a freebie) and you’ll reap the rewards of consumers likely following up that post with another sharing what they experienced.

There are certainly more ways to integrate social currency in to experiential marketing campaigns, and we’ll be writing about some of them in the coming months. In the mean time, what are some things you’ve seen or tried? Did they work?