Social capital or brand equity: which will be more important?

How people make decisions these days is not the same as it used to be. My family is no different. When I’m looking for a new restaurant I’ll turn to Yelp. When my wife is looking for a contractor she checks out Angie’s List. Son 1 checks out movies on Flixster and Son 2 tweets his network for suggestions on the best DVD series for a long weekend. If any of our Facebook connections “likes” a fun activity, we’ll check it out.

The decision model I learned in grad school was very different. First someone becomes aware of a product. Then desire is created for that product. Interest is then peaked. And action is finally stimulated. This model puts the marketer at the control center and the consumer is the “acted on” recipient.

In the older model, brand equity is the asset marketers are trying to build. In the newer model, social capital is the asset that matters most. This requires a new way for marketers to plan and measure their effectiveness.

Our Chief Digital Officer, Bill Parkes (@billparkes), will be leading a panel at SXSW on this topic. If you will be at the conference, it will be a great session. If you want to learn more about social capital but can’t make it, either follow @nfusion on Twitter or the nFusion blog after the conference.

So, which do you believe will be more important in the future, brand equity or social capital?