Got Whuffie? Then You’ve Got Social Cred

The Whuffie Factor, written by Tara Hunt (@missrogue)I probably didn’t need to buy this book.

I’m serious. I probably didn’t. I’ve heard so many good things about Tara Hunt, the author of The Whuffie Factor, on her speaking and presentations and how awesome they are. So when I finally got a chance to hear her speak, it was about five of the components to generate good “whuffie”. What exactly is Whuffie? I’ll get to that a little bit later on. But let me get back to my story.

I had first heard Tara speak about her book during a Social Media Club event featuring three authors of published & upcoming books, although it wasn’t all that detailed as the next time I heard her speak at this past edition of WordCamp in San Francisco. It was here that I heard her expound on what she’s talking about in The Whuffie Factor and how folks can build up their social media campaigns and brand awareness using what she calls “whuffie”.

So I thought to myself that after hearing that and automatically learning the secrets to creating whuffie, I didn’t need to buy her book. It would have saved me at least $20, right?

Wrong. I bought her book. And I loved it.

I’m a fan of Tara’s and when I heard she was publishing The Whuffie Factor, I immediately added it to my “wish list” of books to get. It’s taken me a while and I thought that once I heard what she had to say during WordCamp San Francisco, I didn’t need to read her book because she practically gave it all away for free. But I kept my convictions and ultimately bought the book to read on a long trip I took recently and found it quite compelling.

So let’s get back to the question that was asked earlier: what IS this “whuffie” and how can it help you?

Whuffie is basically street credibility that you have when dealing specifically with social media. There’s no direct monetary value to whuffie. I doubt you can go to your bank and ask for a loan on whuffie. It’s a non-tangible form of value that you earn from being online and interacting. As Tara puts it in The Whuffie Factor, whuffie is “the residual income – the currency – of your reputation.” Like with all forms of currency, it’s entirely possible for you to lose or gain it based on how you behave. There are five key components that Tara lists to help you become a superstar and build significant whuffie (I’ve covered this on my blog post for Network Solutions that you can read here):

  1. Turn the bull horn around.
  2. Become part of the community.
  3. Create amazing feelings.
  4. Embrace the chaos.
  5. Find your purpose.

I’m not going to cover the meanings behind these here but you can read my thoughts on them on this blog post. However, while you might think that all you need are these five steps, you need to still read the book. Why? Because there’s much more wholesome goodness that you’re not going to get by simply blindly following these steps. You don’t truly understand the meaning without reading The Whuffie Factor.

Tara’s book is filled with definitions, meaning and plenty of real-life examples that you can take with you to the bank to learn how to properly create whuffie. Also, there’s advice in her book on how you can lose all your whuffie in the process as well – oh yeah, it’s a two way street. You can gain it all but also just as easily lose it in a heartbeat.  Find out how folks like Gary Vaynerchuk and companies like Threadless, 37Signals and even the Library of Congress have embraced whuffie and become a success.

Reading one of the reviews on Amazon about The Whuffie Factor, I found this one statement about the book totally true:

The fundamental concept is that marketing to your customer has changed.

This statement is from James Beswick and is very true. There is so much noise going on in the industry that every marketer & advertiser is practically SCREAMING to be heard. I guess Tara’s meaning behind it all is to try and stop the screaming and instead focus on the individual relationships and if you have enough whuffie, you’re able to have enough credibility that people will trust you more than someone who is constantly pushing and pushing their message to you – which you’d probably automatically assume that they’re just interested in the sale.

What this book is NOT: it’s not a guide book giving you step-by-step instructions on how you can create a social media campaign. It’s not going to give you tips on which applications to use to help generate more sales or traffic to your website. It doesn’t offer any real best practices on using Facebook or Twitter or even YouTube. But what it DOES offer is a strategic look at your engagement with your communities and customers online and how you can properly take advantage by building relationships. I suppose if you think about interacting with people in real life, how are they going to take what you have to say seriously? You need to be able to not only “talk the talk”, but also “walk the walk”. Are you prepared to do that offline AND also online?

No? Well let Tara Hunt help you out. Read The Whuffie Factor and get a better understanding on how you can earn incredible street credibility in a social media setting.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.