I recently checked this book out from the library. I have to admit, the title has put me off, but after following Tara for a while on Twitter, I decided to jump in and see what she had to say.
“Whuffie is the ephemeral, reputation-based currency of Cory Doctorow‘s science fiction novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. This book describes a post-scarcity economy: All the necessities (and most of the luxuries) of life are free for the taking. A person’s current Whuffie is instantly viewable to anyone, as everybody has a brain-implant giving them an interface with the Net.
While many of the statements that she makes in here border on my personal commonsense, I feel that many of folks that I bump into in the interactive world would benefit greatly from sitting down and really reading this book.
Tara comes across as a heavy duty consumer advocate, as I consider myself to be as well. She advocates using social media to really engage with your customers so that they are an integral part of the process of developing a product or service. Become part of the community you serve is a chapter title and sums it up well. This is about Social Networking, is it not? As I type this, the thought seems to be simplistic, but then again recent experience dictates otherwise.
The days of building a “cool” product and then going out to your existing customers, or spending money on questionable marketing (and hoping for the best) to win new ones are definitely over!
I cannot forget the relatively recent feedback that I got from a client of a former employer, that “was NOT interested in hearing another sales pitch,” instead they were interested to see how they fit in with future corporate strategy. In this case a big client would only commit to a big meeting with approval on every meeting point. (For other big clients, just being invited to come in for this type of mother ship meeting was enough, these folks were ahead of the curve.) The days of the vendor dictating a meeting agenda were definitely over!
I enjoyed reading some of the case studies that she shares about some of the twitterverse success stories Gary Vaynerchuk, Zappos, et al.
The crux of Whuffie is really like the Golden Rule, and my interpretation, “do good and good things will follow.” Tara lives this by putting a large percentage of her life out there online. She seems to have benefitted by working with people without worrying for a direct, transactional, immediate payout. She uses this methodology like a favor pool and makes the argument that not having the other party pay you back immediately is actually a better thing as it encourages you to build a longer term relationship, to potentially call in the favor. Her charts on p. 158 and 159 to describe what is a deposit or a withdrawal from your Whuffie Account illustrate this well.
This would be a great book for anyone to read either as a reinforcement, or as a primer for either younger, less experienced members of the business world or perhaps the older portion that needs a tuneup in regards of how to deal with Social Networking and its’ implications. Get this engaging book for your next flight on a high Whuffie Quotient airline like Virgin or Southwest!