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A weblog by Laura Moncur


SXSWi 2009: Making Whuffie

Filed under: Utah Geeks — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Last March I went to SXSWi 2009. I posted the notes from two of the days, but conference exhaustion got in the way of me posting the notes from the last three days. After much delay, here they are.

Making Whuffie

Tara “Miss Rogue” Hunt

@missrogue on Twitter

SXSWi 2009: Making Whuffie by LauraMoncur from Flickr

What is whuffie? A word coined by Cory Doctorow. He’s crazy about Disneyland. Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom It introduces whuffie instead of money, which is social capital. Influence, access to resources, favors, reciprocity, etc. When you ping whuffie, you get a score that you can buy stuff with.

A huge number people have audiences online.

You can’t buy whuffie. It does not equal money. They join communities to make connections. Trust is the basis of whuffie. If you are PR, you lose credibility.

Connections don’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and attention.

Slides are posted online.

  1. Turn that bullhorn inwards. One way conversations. So we plugged our ears. We want to be treated like special snowflakes. You need to LISTEN. It isn’t easy. Focus on individuals while at the same time.

a. Get advice and input from experts but design for the broader community. Look at how people are using your site.

b. Respond to all feedback, even when you respond by saying, “No, thanks.” Thank you for your suggestion. We can’t use it at this time.

c. Don’t take negative feedback personally; remember that when people give feedback, they are doing so because they care and have taken the time to improve their experience.

d. Give credit to those who give you good ideas. Give them a star.

e. When you implement a new idea, make sure that you highlight it, and ask for feedback.

f. Make small, continuous changes rather than waiting to implement everything at once. A big release is a good way to lose people on the process.

g. Don’t wait for feedback to come to you, go out and find it; people are probably talking about your product elsewhere.

h. No mater how many people like you, you will always have someone who doesn’t – mind the haters. Do not feed the trolls.

2 Become part of the community that you serve. Get out of the boardroom and into the community. You have to find out who your audience is.

What problem are you solving? For whom? Who is having that problem?

Join them! Not as a voyeur or researcher. Authenticity really matters. What makes them happy? Why would they give a darn? There are lots of choices out there. You need to be remarkable. How do you do it?

  1. Create amazing customer experiences.

Make them laugh. Make them love your product.

a. The Dazzle is in the Details: Moleskine is just a notebook. There is a story. The little flap for receipts. It’s more than a notebook.

b. Go above and beyond: Zappos are powered by service. Take those examples and go even further.

c. Appeal to emotion: I had a truffle experience like I’ve never had. She told me a story about my free truffle. It took me to Japan and I had an amazing experience.

d. Inject fun into the experience: Flying Virgin America safety video is amazing. It’s funny. Flickr is another company that injects fun. Talk like a pirate day. ARRR… language button.

e. Make something mundane fashionable: Method home products They make products so beautiful that you put on your counter for display. People Against Dirty It’s just soap, but they’ve made it wonderful.

f. Let people personalize: Moo cards They’ve let everyone personalize their cards.

g. Be experimental. Threadless. They have a policy for developing. Wouldn’t it be awesome if? I Park Like An Idiot bumper stickers.

h. Simplify: 37 Signals Base Camp is an amazing project management tool. It’s very EASY to use.

i. Make happiness your business model: increase autonomy, competence and relatedness. I’m Royalty at Zappos. Make your customers feel like a human being.

j. Be a social catalyst. It’s not just about you. It’s about your customers connecting with your customers.

  1. Embrace the chaos: Does anybody try to control the message anymore? You can’t control the message anymore. People are making their own messages for you without your consent. If you try to cease and desist, it will blow up in your face. You have a whole conversation to get it right instead of just one chance. It’s way more exciting than sitting in a board room.

There is every day magic that happens.

a. Stop moving and look around you until you see everything clearly. Listen and observe.

b. Transfer the knowledge. Share what you’re doing with your customers. Give away your secrets. Channel your brain.

c. Every time you feel anxiety, acknowledge it. People are amazing at coming along and asking, what do you need? They can help or talk about how they are scared.

d. Define your own measure of success. What kind of community do you want to create?

e. Get outside of your personal circle. You learn things when you diversify your circle.

f. Everything is out of your control anyway.

g. Have patience. You will feel like you can face the chaos.

Whuffie is part of the gift economy. The more whuffie you give away, the more you gain. It’s only valuable when you give it away. I know we still need money. What can you give away without going broke.

  1. Find your higher purpose

5 Gifts the you can give that won’t cost you anything

a. Doing well by doing good. They don’t give money to volunteer organizations. He made his company be completely sustainable. Dupont is 100% sustainable. Totally recycled carpeting.

b. Think customer-centrically: Think about everything from the perspective of the customer. Let people surf around the web all the time. Instead of measuring the visitors and time spent. Make yourself a place for people to go. Send customers to other websites. You measure how many peiople refer their friends to you. You let people feed in their content from other sites easily. Your only customer service policy is to do righ by the customer. Your customers are doing things with your product that you never dreamed of.

c Help others go further: I’m here because of all the great stuff out there: Blogger, Twitter, Flickr Help make your customers kick ass. Get out of their way and let them excel. Help your customers go further.

d. Spread love: Akoha.com It’s a pay it forward game. Give people tools to do wonderful things. Hugnation They help people connect with others.

e. Value something bigger than yourself: Flip over the pyramid so that the power is in the people’s hands. Help the little guy. What is YOUR higher purpose?

You will gain whuffie. You will become whuffie rich.


Question: Why so many lists?

It’s an easy way to present ALOT of information.

Question: Advice for business for different categories of customers that conflict.

There is always an ultimate customer. If they are happy, all the other customers are going to be happy. Who is your ULTIMATE customer? Is it the person who is giving you money? Or is it the person who is creating word of mouth?

Question: The perfect pencil The Ultimate Pencil Staedler It’s for you because you love Moleskines so much.

Question: Why two things should I implement?

I would not recommend two things. Instead start lightly on all the levels. Do it on a small level. Lurk, instead of joining the conversation. Bring together research on companies that are doing things that people love. Big companies love PowerPoint to show your ideas. Start slowly in ALL the areas.

Beth Cantor is the best for Whuffie for non-profits.

Question: Will social capital become like credit scores?

I hope not. Social capital is a currency that is non-fungable. It keeps it personal. It keeps it based on relationships. It’s not gameable. If it becomes a score, it will be more gameable. Every time you have a measure, people will game it. Google is the closest thing we have to whuffie. Google results are what people are saying about you online. Their goal is to keep gamers and spammers from using the system.

In some countries, social pressure and shaming keeps people a lot straighter than the US. That is a big whuffie measure there. It’s not universal…

A lot of companies are still focused on OLD measurements. I don’t actually have that answer. Come up with alternative measurements. Come up with a way to measure referrals. Radian Six to be able to see the number of referrals. Let’s not measure hits. Let’s measure word of mouth. Focus on THOSE numbers.

Is it possible to have too much whuffie? Cartels and social capital in the French elite. YES!


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