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The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business [Hardcover]

Tara Hunt

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Book Description

April 21 2009
The book that catches the crest of Web 2.0 and shows how any business can harness its power by increasing whuffie, the store of social capital that is the currency of the digital world.

Everyone knows about blogs and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and has heard about someone who has used them to grow a huge customer base. Everyone wants to be hands-on, grassroots, and interactive, but what does this mean? And more to the point, how do you do it?

As one who has actually launched a company using the power of online communities, and who now advises large and small companies, Tara Hunt (named by the San Francisco Chronicle, along with luminaries Jimmy Wales and Tim O’Reilly, as a digital Utopian) is the perfect person to do this book.

While The Whuffie Factor will traverse the landscape of Web 2.0 and show how to become a player, it is not just another book about online marketing. People see the huge business potential of the online world and the first impulse is: Let’s throw a bunch of money at it. To which Tara Hunt says: “Stop! Money isn’t the capital of choice in online communities, it is whuffie–social capital–and how to raise it is at the heart of this book.” In the Web 2.0 world, market capital flows from having high social capital. Without whuffie you lose your connections and any recommendations you make will be seen as spam–met with negative reactions and a loss of social capital.

The Whuffie Factor provides businesspeople with a strategic map and specific tactics for the constantly evolving, elusive, and, to some, strange world of on­line communities. By connecting with your customers through community interaction, you’ll raise your social capital, create demand, and sell more product. Consumer loyalty is a direct result of whuffie. With great stories of online business successes and cautionary tales of major missteps–recording industry, anyone?–Tara Hunt reveals how social networking has more influence over buying decisions than any other marketing tool and how your business can tap into the vast world of Web 2.0 to build an unshakable foundation for twenty-first-century-style online success.

For those without millions–even thousands–to throw around, here is a fresh perspective for using social networks to help build a business whether you are a start-up or a Fortune 500 giant. Even those in big rich companies need to learn how to be effective and not waste their money. For them–as well as the entrepreneur–The Whuffie Factor is an eye-opening guide to a world they probably don’t understand all that well.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (April 21 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307409503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307409508
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #338,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Embrace the chaos! The Whuffie Factor weaves stories from Moleskine, 37Signals, Threadless, Willitblend, and Gary Vaynerchuk into a compelling story of the way business is now done. Tara doesn’t just talk about it, of course, she does it herself.”
—Seth Godin, author of Meatball Sundae
“Marketing–or doing business at all–in the age of whuffie and the world of social media means authenticity, listening, engaging, and trusting. That’s what Tara Hunt says, and it’s also exactly what she does. If you are in marketing now or starting a company that has customers, you need to read this book to understand exactly, and I mean precisely and with detailed examples, how the conversation between vendor and client, business and customer, has changed radically. Tara Hunt knows her stuff, and she knows how to put a great deal of knowledge into compelling ­stories that are a pleasure to read because her voice is not just the voice of extensive experience: Tara Hunt’s voice works well in this book because it’s who she is.”
—Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs
“Social capital may be the most powerful currency of the twenty-first century, and this book is a guide to its care and feeding. Bursting with energy and enthusiasm, Tara Hunt shows us how to win friends and influence people in a Web 2.0 world.”
—Tom Kelley, cofounder of IDEO and author of The Ten Faces of Innovation
"The market power of social networking continues to grow exponentially. It may well overwhelm all other communication vehicles--and in short order. The Whuffie Factor is exceptionally readable, and both instructive and fun. You'd be foolish to pass it by, or fail to heed its advice."
—Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

About the Author

TARA HUNT was the co­founder of Citizen Agency, a community-marketing consulting firm based in San Francisco, and is now leading the marketing efforts for Intuit’s partner platform. She has been cited in national newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and is well-known in the Web 2.0 technology and start-up worlds for her community-­marketing experience. Her blog,, explores themes in marketing and economics and has been pivotal in raising Tara’s own whuffie in the online marketing space.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not even a magazine article, stretched into a book Oct. 19 2009
By Andrew Kent - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've become increasingly accustomed to ideas best captured as magazine articles being extended into books. It's sometimes a bit offensive to be sold something long when something short would have done.

"The Whuffie Factor" is something else entirely -- a sentence or a paragraph expanded into a book.

Here it is: Your social reputation is important, so cultivate it well.

Save your money. This book is insulting.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why use social network sites and blogs to build (grow) a Web platform and possibly a customer following? Readthisbooktofindout! April 22 2009
By Jeff Lippincott - Published on
I liked this book. A reader might find it helpful to see why using social network sites and blogs to build (grow) a Web platform and possibly a customer following is the way to go in the Digital Age we live in today. I certainly will recommend this well written tome to my SCORE clients who either are stumbling with New Media or need to learn about it for the first time. The book has the following ten chapters:

1. How to be a social capitalist
2. The power of community marketing
3. Turn the bullhorn around & create continuous conversations with customers
4. Building whuffie by listening to & integrating feedback
5. Become part of the community you serve
6. Depositing into & withdrawing from your whuffie account
7. Be notable: 11 ways to create amazing customer experiences
8. Embrace chaos
9. Find your higher purpose
10. Whuffie "in real life"

You might not be familiar with the term "Whuffie" before reading this book. I know I wasn't. It supposedly stands for "the store of social capital that is the currency in the digital world." Marketing today in the New Media is about building relationships. It's about give and take. It's not about "in your face" or just throwing money into advertising campaigns. By reading this book you should better understand what online marketing has migrated to be about and why it is important to go with the flow.

This book is not going to tell you how to plan an online marketing campaign. The best book on that subject that I know of is Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day. And to learn more about blogging I recommend: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income, and Secrets of Successful Blogging System. This last item is kind of pricey. But in my humble opinion it is really worth its weight in gold. I have posted book reviews on Amazon for all three of these products. 4 stars!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Out of date -- there are better options out there now June 19 2011
By L. J. FINE - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book's release is dated May 4, 2010 here on Amazon, but the copy I received is copyrighted 2009 and contains information from 2008. If there's a newer version, I didn't receive it. Unfortunately I can't recommend this book. In social media, a world which moves so quickly, 3 year old information is extremely old and out of date information.

There are still some good takeaways from this book, but a lot of information is so outdated it made me laugh. Not the author's fault -- she's covering a fast-moving topic -- but I would save your money for something more up to date.

Of the many social media books I've read in the last few months (I'm researching the topic for a university course), the most useful have been from Dave Kerpen (Likeable Social Media) and Gary Vaynerchuk (The Thank You Economy). I don't know either author and I have no ties to either -- but their books were immensely helpful to me in researching social media marketing for businesses.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting points, but not a world-changing effect Feb. 24 2010
By Robert Fately - Published on
The concept of Whuffie is that of a sort of "cultural currency"; that is, how good a person's or organization's reputation is. Ms. Hunt is obviously a veteran of the Web, and she makes some good points - in essence, that one needs to be honest and moral in order to achieve high Whuffie rather than just try to use the Web as another outlet or venue for typical one-sided marketing hype.

No argument there; certainly if we could all check our egos at the door and put out honest appraisals of products (including our own, including admitting when we screw up) then it will engender more positive feelings on those that wander around the WWW to shop, etc.

I didn't rate the book higher only because I get the sense that Ms. Hunt thinks that the Web is the be-all-and-end-all of the world of commerce. Certainly, many people (myself included) log on multiple times a day, but nevertheless I don't think of my online presence as the essence of me. Too, there are still many people who either never get to the online world at all or else only sparingly, preferring "real reality" to "virtual reality" and so not so absorbed in what happens online.

So as a general instruction guide of how to do good online, this book is fine. As an attempt to prove that it is (or will be in the foreseeable future) critical to enjoy high Whuffie levels, it falls way short.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Step one: get a million followers??? Dec 19 2012
By Al L. Stone - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a half-decent book for those who already enjoy a large number of followers, friends or fans.

However this book reminds me a bit of an old Steve Martin Joke called "How to live like a millionaire". Step one: get a million dollars...

My point is that if one already had a million (or large number) of followers, they probably already know the value of social media. This book doesn't really talk too much about how to get to that point, which in my opinion is the hard part!

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