How to raise online reputation: Notes from Tara Hunt's presentation on Making Whuffie (WebVisions 2009)

This was one of the better presentations at WebVisions. I felt like it had some pretty concrete actions to take.

Best takeaway: By putting myself out there for feedback on my company, the many benefits include gaining more followers, learning what my customers want, being able to engage in a discussion. I gain more by listening than by talking.

Making Whuffie
Tara Hunt

  • Dunbar number: 120-150 – the number of people we can really know at any point in time
    • Will: based on tribes and communities
    • As a result of the internet / we b 2.0 / facebook+myspace+blogs the dunbar number is raising
    • This doesn’t leave room for the one way messages of corporations / advertising
  • Some companies greeted enthusiastically, some companies are barfed upon
  • Cory Doctorow / BoingBoing
    • DOWN and OUT in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
    • In the science fiction future of Cory, instead of money, there is something that he called whuffie
    • Roughly equivalent to social capital: reputation, access to resources, favors added up (reprocity), followers, levels of trust
    • High whuffie score = good reputation
    • You can buy stuff with your whuffie
    • But… not really fictional or futuristic. It’s here and now.
    • It’s how we decide to friend people on Facebook (based on looking at existing friend relationships)
    • To raise your whuffie, you need to establish relationships and credibility
  • 5 ways to raise your whuffie
    • 1. Turning the bullhorn around: instead of just speaking, listen
      • (Will: I wonder what would happen if I solicited input on HP printers and HP website)
      • The silence will smack down your whuffie
      • 8 ways to turn the bullhorn around
        • 1. Get advice from experts, but design for the needs of the novice
        • 2. Respond to ALL feedback, even when you have to say “no thanks”
        • 3. Don’t take negative feedback personally: people want a better experience, they want to keep using your product/website, they are taking the time to give you feedback to make things better
        • 4. Give people credit:
          • mention contributions in blog posts, tweets, or videos.
          • Name a product or feature after the contributor (or let them name it)
          • Send journalists their way
          • Send a gift certificate or special coupon code
          • Schwag and schtuff
          • Upgrade their account
          • Give the contributor more responsibility
        • 5. Point out and explain changes as you make them
        • 6. Make small, continuous improvements
        • 7. Go out to find your feedback
          • Use Google Alerts, Radiant6, or similar tools to seek feedback
        • 8. Ignore the haters (“Don’t feed the trolls”)
    • 2. Become part of the community you serve
      • Figure out who it is you serve
        • What problem are you solving? For whom?
      • Join the community… not for market resource, not to sell them something… to learn what makes them happen. And why they would give a damn.
    • 3. Create truly amazing customer experiences
      • Create love, joy, and laughter.
      • We can design for them.
      • Automagic: a user experience so seamless that it feels like magic just occurred.
      • http://lilgrams.com
        • Tag: “Automagically share your baby’s memories”
        • GrowthGRam, StoryGram, FoodGram, WordGram
        • Automagicness starts with sign: can signin with Twitter account or Facebook connect.
        • You can sync up with your social network accounts
        • And then pick people in those accounts who should receive notifications
        • Estimates dates from EXIF data, and combines with child’s age to guess:
          • First father’s day
          • First solid food
          • Etc.
      • Quicken for iPhone
        • Automagic spending update
        • Automagic account update
        • Automagic ATM finder
      • Tripit
        • “The best way to organize and share your travel plans”
        • You forward your confirmation email, from any airline or travel service, and Tripit creates a uniform itinerary, accessible via web, print, or iPhone.
      • 4. Throwing sheep: fun, lightweight activities that encourage participation, but don’t really do much else.
        • FB: poking, “I like this”, twitter: nudging, virtual gifting, kudos.
        • Makes it an easy way for people to participate, get comfortable
        • Example: Dopplr:
          • Personal velocity meter (silly and fun – people were twittering about it)
          • Carbon footprint
      • 5. lighten up: the ability to inject fun into the most serious & professional interactions
        • Examples:
          • funny 404 page errors
    • 4. embrace the chaos
      • The fear mongers: legal, public relations/corporate communications, IT
      • Understand the need for security… but need to balance it with the need for openness… because that is what people are demanding. We are in a new era of building trust
      • Benefits of embracing the chaos
        • You’ll be better prepared for the unexpected
        • You’ll join in the conversation that is already happening and be welcomed for this move
        • It will bring the opportunity for collaboration
        • It will make your ideas stronger that way
      • In the old days, you had one chance to get the message just right
      • Today, you have multiple conversations and iterations to build that message with your customers and audience
    • Whuffie is part of the gift economy. You don’t hoard it, you give it away.
      • What can you give away that won’t leave you broke?
    • #5: embrace your higher purpose
      • Do well by doing good: in the core of what you are doing, you are giving back.
        • Example: Stonyfield Farms: makes good yogurt, but does good things for the world by doing it. Sustainable production, organic.
        • Craiglist
      • Think customer-centrically
        • Take off your marketing hat, your finance hat, and step into your customers hat. What can you do for them?
        • Look at the “not customer-centric” slide on slideshare
        • Customer-centric is:
          • You send customers to other websites
          • You measure how many people refer their friends to you as success
          • When budgets get tightened, you tighten operational costs (not design, customer support, etc.)
          • Your only customer service policy is to do right by the customer
          • Your customers are doing things with your product you never dreamed and are posting videos.
          • Influencers are adding you as friends on social networks
          • You work with your competitors towards better customer experiences for all
      • Making new things accessible to people:
          • Blogger (enabled amateur journalists)
          • YouTube (enabled amateur videographers/actors)
          • Flickr (enabled amateur photographers)
      • http://Akoha.com: Pay It Forward Mission Card
  • If you combine all of these five whuffie factors, you will become whuffie rich
  • Leads to better word of mouth, repeat sales, customer loyalty
  • Which leads to increase sales and profits
  • Discussion…
    • Q: How to staff up to participate in this?
      • A: It’s everybody’s job. At zappos, everyone is empowered to be social. It’s not one person’s job, not one department’s job. It doesn’t mean spending five hours on twitter, it means being ambient.
      • The big companies spend a hell of a lot of time internally focused. They spend so much time in meeting talking about stuff that doesn’t matter instead of going to barcamps, tweetups, or webvisions conferences.
    • Q: You can’t have a top down mandate to achieve something like the Southwest airlines safety rap. So how do you achieve it?
      • A: You can’t mandate it. You have to cultivate the culture. That takes time, it requires hiring the right amount of people, and it takes time to apply across the board.
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