Sunday, March 15, 2009

Making Whuffie: Social capital in online communities

With due respect to Bob Eubanks, 'Whuffie' is Cory Doctorow's (boingboing and author of the free downloadable novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) term for a coin of the realm known as 'social capital'.

The talk by Tara Hunt of Intuit talks about building this social captial in online communities. 

Social capital is built in a multitude of places, for example:

Twitter, 15 million users.
Orkut >75 million users
Blogs >115million

But you can't buy Whuffie...connection + time = trust. People demand credibility. It requires time...if you try to buy Whuffie, you will get identified as a spammer.

Five things to raise your whuffie

1. Turn the bullhorn inwards. Stop shouting at your customers. It's impersonal. We listen to people we trust, people we have relationships with. Listen. [You can;t listen if you are talking]. Listen means getting feedback. 

Eight commandments for getting feedback.
  • Get advice of experts, but design for the broader community
  • Respond to all feedback, even when you have to say No Thanks.
  • Don't take negative feedback personally. 
  • Give credit to those whose ideas you implement.
  • Highlight new ideas that have been implemented and ask for feedback
  • Make small continuous changes rather than all at once changes.
  • Don;t wait for feedback to come to you, go find it.
  • Mind the haters...don;t feed the trolls.
2. Become part of the community you serve...and ask what problem you are solving, for whom. Then join them. Not as a market researcher, or a marketer. Authentically [which speaks to the ability of one to be authentic about a community they don;t care about or have the ability to join?].

3. Become remarkable. You do this by creating remarkable customer experiences [which one can do through Useful, Usable, Desirable...not by telling someone what they should find remarkable]. The dazzle is in the details. Go above and beyond (like Zappos or Nordstrom). Appeal to emotion (especially with story and narrative) and inject fun (like the Virgin Airways safety videos).

4. Make something mundane fashionable. Method Home example of home cleaners. Let people personalize the product [like my laptop cover].   Be experimental...have sessions where people brainstorm ideas that start with 'Wouldn;t it be awesome if..."  Simplify. [37 signals basecamp project management tool]. iPhone doesn;t get in the way of creating content...that's simple. [Of course, it's hard to simplify]. Make happiness your business model...granting autonomy, supporting competence and relatedness.

5.  Embrace the Chaos. You cant control the message, because the people fight back by making their own messages. Brands can;t fit neatly into a little now have a whole conversation to get a brand's message right instead of trying to create 'the one thing' for the one chance you used to get to tell your brand's message. How to embrace the chaos...Stop moving and look around to see clearly. Transfer the knowledge. 

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