Building Your Social Capital & Growing Personal Brand

What the hell is “Whuffie”!? I know, it’s a silly sounding word, but bare with me! The word originates from the sci-fi novel by Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In the novel, whuffie is a form of reputation-based currency and in Tara Hunt’s The Whuffie Factor, she applies this fictitious concept to real life marketing and shows how you can use the power of social capital to build your business.

Social Capital

If you want to talk about whuffie without explaining the word, this term sums it up, Social Capital. Think of each authentic social interaction as a transaction (an  exchange of social currency,) the more meaningful transactions you make the more capital you gain and the greater your social worth. If you’re building your personal brand, if you’re engaging with your community, YOU are a social capitalist!

Social Media Books are Bullshit

I generally haven’t been drawn to many of the books that came out this year about social media, for the most part they all come off to me as gimicky and not very genuine… it’s the new generations version of “get rich quick” books. Not a fan.

The Whuffie Factor doesn’t offer any quick tips or tricks on navigating the community or growing your personal brand, but what it does offer is solid, real world examples of how people in an assortment of industries used social media platforms to reach a new audience and grow their brand reputation.

Read it!

I suggest this book in companion with another book I wrote about this year, Crush It. Read The Whuffie Factor first to get a lot great information about real world use of social marketing techniques and to get the wheels in your head turning, thinking about your reputation as a form of capital, then pick up Crush It to get a pep talk and reality check on just what you’re getting yourself into by beginning this investment in your personal brand equity.

What do you think?

Have you read TWF? What did you think? What do you make of this whole concept of “social capital”? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!!! :)


  1. Just a minor usability thing I’ve run into a couple of times on your site, Liz:

    When I click on the CMD_SHIFT_DESIGN+BLOG logo at the top of the page, I always expect to go to /blog/ on your site, but it takes me to the root instead. Not sure if others have the same issue or not, and obviously I can just click on blog in the menu, but thought I’d mention it, as I’ve found myself doing it a couple of times.

  2. Hey Liz… Cool read.
    I enjoyed the wuffie factor actaully there is a pretty cool site called the wuffie bank that keeps track of your social capital showing how uch you help others, and how many have helped you via RT’s and social interaction…

    I really think that helping other people promote their blogs/projects/and other endeavors is very rewarding and their is something about seeing other people succeed (especially when you are stoked on what they are doing) that can be really inspirational.

    ~ Aaron I

  3. I agree with you about most of the social media books out there. I haven’t read the Whuffle Factor, but it does sound like they take a much better approach to the subject matter than most of these so-called ‘Social Media Experts and Gurus’. Definitely worth a read. (even without the Doctorow reference) :D

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