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Re-fi Application Ignores Value of Social (Media) Capital

on Dec 4, 12 • by • with No Comments

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With interest rates at historic lows, I recently applied to re-finance my mortgage. It did not go well.

You see, the bank was so hung up on my financial capital that they didn’t even consider my social capital, as measured by my significant influence in the world of social media.

The bank (whose name I’ll change using the mean of their compound-ordinal name, to “Fourth-4th”) showed no interest in my 1600+ Facebook friends, my tasteful-but-edgy Pinterest Boards, or my Klout Score of 64.

But they were simply obsessed about my “net assets,” “credit worthiness,” and lack of a “job.”

As you have probably guessed by now, I was not approved.

People, this is 2012. We are in a new era – an era where a man’s value is based not on his balance sheet, but grounded firmly in his social graph. When are the banks going to get this?

“Sunrise Over El Torito” was re-pinned 24 times. That’s real social capital.

Check out some of the social media capital I’ve earned:

  • 400+ Facebook fans for Banner Ad Confidential (click on the link to the right to follow)
  • (Almost) 600 Twitter followers*
  • 13 subscribers to my ’80s Canadian Rock Workout-Mix playlist on Spotify
  • Endorsements from a few of my 1700+ LinkedIn connections (many of whom were industry conference hook-ups), that I possess expertise in “Digital Media/Strategy,” “Online Marketing,” and “Facebook.”

So I’m kind of a big deal.

Admittedly, I’m not one of The Big K’s (Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Kara Swisher), but through my Likes, Tweets and check-in’s, I’m out there driving my friends’ brand preferences and purchase decisions everyday.

Can you guess what value the bank put on this massive social equity? A: Zero. Nada. Zilch.

That’s right, the inflexible corporate drones at 4th-Fourth Bank were less focused on my hard-earned credibility in the world of online marketing than they were on my ability to “pay back the loan.”

These old banker guys are just stuffy and totally unconnected to what’s happening in the digital world. Maybe it’s because they’re HQ’ed in Cincinnati where most people think “ReTweet” is what you do in the toilet after eating at Skyline Chili.

I pity these bankers for their ignorance.  This is 2012, and what matters is social connections and influence. Not antiquated concepts like “credit worthiness,” “debt-to-income ratios,” and “solvency.”

The stick-in-the-mud loan officer I worked with just didn’t get how things work in a social world. Get this – he had never even heard of Path!

And when I tried to explain it to him, he asked me, “so how does a company with no advertising or subscription revenue stay in business?” I was speechless.

“Either through another round of financing or an acquisition, obviously!” I told him, trying unsuccessfully to disguise my disdain (because, after all, I neeed to get this loan).

I couldn’t get through to him. He was not impressed that over the past three years I have spent more time aggregating friends and followers on social networks than I have spent aggregating actual money. He just kept asking about my “employment history” and “expectations for future income.”

I reminded him that I had listed “online writer” as my job, and that I was about to go viral. He wanted to know where I had been published. I told him I published my writings on my own site. And he goes, “So you’re a blogger?”

“FINE. Yes – I’m a blogger! Whatever.” I said. “but there are some big-time bloggers out there. Ever heard of Bill Simmons? Robert Scoble? Arianna Huffington?” And he was all “I’m sorry, no I haven’t.” and I go, “Blogger, blogger, blogger. And now they’re rich, kinda rich and totally rich.”

And he says, “So you want to be a rich blogger the way my son wants to be LeBron James?”

And I was like, “No, man – anyone can play basketball. It takes real talent and insight to be a blogger. There’s, like, BARRIERS TO ENTRY, man!”

He said, “Like what?”

“Well, for one you’ve gotta have a clear point-of-view and deep topical knowledge.” I answered.

“Any others?” he asked.

“Well, yeah – you’ve got to have a laptop…or a bitchin’ smart-phone at the very least.” I said. “And wi-fi. You’ve gotta have wi-fi. Well, you don’t have to have it, but it is definitely preferable.”

He said, “Okay, so how much income do you expect to generate from blogging in the next few years?”

I admitted that, for the foreseeable future, I would have limited monetary income, but that I would generate significant social influence. I even proposed that if I ever missed a mortgage payment, I would make it up by posting to Facebook how much I love the services at Fourth-Fourth Bank, thus helping them sell more checking accounts and loans to my credit-hungry, social connection-friends.

He told me that sounded nice, but that he couldn’t value it. The guy’s a freakin’ fossil!

Clearly the banking industry just doesn’t get it and it’s time for some disruption! When is Groupon getting into the mortgage business?

*I’m not proud of this one. Let’s face it, if you have fewer than 5,000 Twitter followers, you really don’t matter to anyone…least of all 4th-4th Bank.

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