No, this is nothing inappropriate. Just stroll down (or click over) to your bookstore and pick up a copy of Tara Hunt’s book called “The Whuffie Factor” and learn a little more about her views on what she calls “social capitalism.”
I picked up this book at the recommendation of a friend because of my summer “To Do List” that included a goal of better understanding not just how to use social networking but WHY to use social networking for my department. Much like many of you, we love to try the new bells and whistles, but among all the Facebooking, “tweeting,” blogging and more we start to get overwhelmed with all of the updating that is required to just keep on top of things. The Whuffie Factor has been the answer to what I’ve been looking to figure out!
I don’t think everyone out there will add this book to their list just because the SA Blog tells them to, so I’m going to spend a series of posts addressing some of what this author has to say about what Whuffie is and why you should want it.
WARNING: These posts will take principles used in corporate America and try to apply them to higher education and student affairs. If you are someone who scoffs at any connection between what is being done in business and building student engagement, you may not like what I have to say. So, if you’ll agree to tolerate these parallels…
Now that it’s off my chest, let’s talk Whuffie.
What’s a Whuffie?
Ms. Hunt describes Whuffie as a form of currency, much like a bank account of social capitalism. Your Whuffie Factor is, according to Hunt, what will elevate your company’s presence and status in the Web 2.0 world. She paints a picture of an ideal on-line presence for today’s organizations that has changed my whole line of thinking about how our departments should be developing on-line tools.
I used to think that if my office spent our time building the best websites and just figuring out how to more clearly communicate our policies and information that students across campus would suddenly have an “aha” that will immediately drive them to seek what they need from us through our online presence. I figured that if we just put the right things out, the students would just suddenly use those web resources.
Not so, says Tara Hunt. If we don’t invest ourselves in their on-line world, then they won’t invest themselves in ours. Increasing our “Whuffie” would mean that we develop our relationship with our “clients” that is mutual and two-sided. We contribute some, then they will contribute back. The exchange of information and opinions back and forth is the secret to increasing Whuffie. If we focus on increasing our Whuffie, we will use existing on-line tools that will help us to develop relationships with our students.
This totally mirrors our institutional conversations on my campus about the fear behind what students might post on our Facebook walls and/or how comments on a Blog might have to be moderated.
How about you?
Is your office just “putting information out there” hoping someone will read it? Or, have you invested in building some Whuffie of your own and started investing time in becoming a part of the online community of your students?
I’ll talk next post about “deposits” to your Whuffie account and how to make them in student affairs. As Tara Hunt says, “embrace the chaos!”