Cashing In Your Social Currency

by Thomas MORADPOUR on July 30, 2011 · 13 comments

Looks like President Obama #compromise campaign is creating quite a wave.

Quoting Nielsen/McKinsey research, Mashable talks of over 22,000 tweets using the hashtag, reaching as many as 36 million users on Twitter, as of Friday 5pm. I won’t go in the details or politics of the campaign – let’s just say it involved sending quite a large number of tweets asking the 9 million followers of the US President to send messages to Republican representatives.

At the same time, the campaign draws criticism of spamming, some even giving @barackobama the sarcastic title of “Biggest Troll on Twitter”.

More tangibly, about 36,000 people stopped following him altogether. In one day.


Which reminds me of a great piece of advice I once received from a former boss – the Emotional Bank Account.

The concept is quite simple. Don’t think of your relationships as assets you simply own, with a fixed value that will never change. Rather, see them as a bank account where you can make deposits (positive interactions), or withdrawals (negative interactions). Life is made of both, and its quite useful to make sure your relationships are always “in the black” on that front; sometimes you’ll have to say ‘no’ to people, or ask them for favors. Sometimes you’ll just be yourself and bug or hurt them without intent or even awareness…


Note that I’m not suggesting to keep track literally of your relationships with numbers and values ; that would be quite creepy… But the following rules are useful:

1. You can never be in overdraft. No such thing as starting with withdrawals when the emotional bank account is empty. People won’t help you or tolerate you unless the credit is there.

2. Negative interactions have more impact than positive. Count at least 4 positive interactions to compensate for every negative one. That works both in work and personal relationships.

3. Asking people to do something for you is a withdrawal. Yes, you can ask nicely, it’s not necessarily a “bad interaction”. But don’t fool yourself – it’s a withdrawal.

4. Keep the credit high. You never know when you’ll need to cash it in…

As it applies to social networks, I think it’s quite useful to think of the bank account as very close to zero; after all, all it takes is the click of a button to follow, and most interactions are even below the weak-tie threshold. But managing the bank account can be done – paying it forward with retweets or @mentions, sharing ideas and knowledge openly, helping others… or more generally being open to interactions. And all this BEFORE you ask anyone to do anything for you. Yes, the same rule applies.


Back to Obama.

For 36,000 people who clicked “unfollow”, the bank account was just not full enough to support the withdrawal and tax of repeated spam on their timeline. For many more, it was OK, judging from the many supportive tweets and positive sentiment. But the point is this – Obama chose to cash in his credit on Twitter on this campaign because he believes it matters… and it cost him followers and relationships.

Did he have enough in the bank is another question… but it’s a deliberate choice he made. He cashed in the social currency in his twitter bank account.

Think about it. Where’s your credit? How do you grow it? What’s worth cashing it in?

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
  • Rufus Dogg

    Why is keeping tracking of your relationships with actual numbers creepy? That is exactly how my family keeps track of favors bestowed and granted. The numbers are not actually written down, but you know they are being tallied. Yeah, I think it a bit dysfunctional too, but them’s the rules. I suspect a lot of other families have the same set of rules. The Emotional Bank Account is just the politically correct version of the rule book.

    • Anonymous

      I like that… not sure I’d go for a formal tally but…

  • Anonymous

    In my study of positive psychology it is well noted that negativity is more powerful than positivity. I practice many positive activities (exercises) daily to shore up my strength, and resolve, against the attacks of negative vibes. but alas in politics fear reigns since it is the most powerful motivator. We are hard-wired to attend to crisis.

    I missed the content of Obama’s tweets that day. All I have heard is how he lost tens of thousands of followers because of them. I am not a fan of this administration, nor am I a Republican. In the words of Will Rogers, “I am not a member of any organized party. I am a Democrat.”

    • Anonymous

      “We are hard wired to respond to crisis”
      I think this is absolutely true, and hard to argue against. It’s a survival mechanism.
      Cheers Kat

  • Elizabeth Houser

    This is really good stuff.  It reminds me of a message on marriage I heard at church.  It was kind of funny, apparently according to that message anyway husbands and wives have very different currency however for a wife it’s always 1 credit- 1 credit for flowers or gifts, 1 credit for vacuuming, 1 credit for a romantic weekend getaway, but one screw up it costs way more than 1 credit.  Tongue in cheek of course but I think the analogy you made regarding relationships generally plays out i.e. 1 negative requires at least 4 positives.  Great post thanks.
    Elizabeth Houser

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Elizabeth!
      But come ON!! the romantic getaway has to be worth more than one credit!!!

  • Anonymous

    Nice way to contextualize this, Thomas. I think many people simply looked at the 36,000 follower loss without thinking through the fact that politicians are always either generating or spending this kind of — what they call “political” — currency.

    • Anonymous


  • Pingback: – The Blog Library

  • Scott R

    There is a new site that helps you do this called  You should check it out.

  • adam beaumont

    Excellent post, first time I have heard about this story. Losing 36k followers in one day must be a record!

  • Breast Enhancement

    Wow, amazing weblog layout! How lengthy
    have you been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The
    full look of your web site is magnificent, as smartly as the content!

  • Alex Marsh

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to provide something again and aid others like you helped me.

Previous post:

Next post: