Tara Hunt

Author, The Whuffie Factor

A pioneering expert in online communities and marketing.

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Biography

Tara Hunt is a true pioneer in online marketing and one of the most respected authorities on online communities — how they are evolving, how they are changing both culture and business, and how businesses must behave in order to succeed in the participatory web economy.

Tara was named one of 2013's Entrepreneurial Women to Watch by Entrepreneur magazine. Fast Company named her one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in 2009.

She is one of the most respected and cited thought leaders in community marketing — how to delight and enchant the people in the communities your company serves with products, experiences and communications that honor the expectations of online customer communities.

Community marketing is not about pushing messages or creating strong brands, but building relationships and engaging communities. Tara is an expert in using the tools and the opportunities of the participatory web to succeed by building social capital — that is, whuffie. Tara describes this approach in her book The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business.

Today’s brands aren’t built in boardrooms or ad agencies or brainstorming sessions. Today, brands are built by communities. People choose what should be supported, spread and how it should be talked about. It is the marketing manager’s job now to understand and support them in their choices. A good marketer today is a Community Advocate.

As online communities become stronger and stronger sources of consumer information, your sales will be driven on how well you are received in those communities. Tara's approach teaches companies how to properly inhabit these community spaces as welcome, even invited participants in a dialog, rather than as invaders or manipulators with their own message.

Tara Hunt was instrumental in making BarCamp, an international network of user-generated conferences, a worldwide phenomenon. She also is an active promoter of the Coworking movement, in which independent workers share workspace. She speaks frequently at conferences around the world, including Mesh, the Future of Web Apps, ETech and Web 2.0 Expo.

Credentials

  • Author, The Whuffie Factor
  • Online Marketing Director, Riya.com (an online media company with a product for searching, organizing and tagging digital photos)
  • Owner, Rogue Strategies
  • Online Marketing Manager, HRPAO

Honors

  • 2013's Entrepreneurial Women to Watch, Entrepreneur
  • One of the Most Influential Women in Technology, Fast Company (2009) — one of 9 "Evangelists"
  • Marketing Magazine 2003 Digital Awards - Certificate for Promotional Sites/Gaming (www.joestiff.com)
  • Applied Arts Magazine Best of 2003 - Best Poster
  • Applied Arts Magazine Best of 2003 - Best Poster Series

Books

The Power of Social Networking

Using the Whuffie Factor to Build Your Business

Tara Hunt

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.

Three Rivers Press (May 4, 2010)

The Whuffie Factor

Tara Hunt

Everyone knows about blogs and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. And they’ve heard about someone who has used them to grow a huge customer base. Everyone wants to be hands-on, grass roots 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 big 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 raise it is 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 recommendation you make will be seen as spam, met with negative reactions and a loss of social capital.

The Whuffie Factor is a breakthrough book, providing the strategic map and specific tactics for success in the lucrative, but strange and elusive world of online communities.

Crown Business (April 21, 2009)

Topics

Tara tailors each presentation to the needs of her audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest her range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

How to be a Social Capitalist

The people — especially youth — who inhabit online communities don’t care what you have to say, sell or even give away. Word of mouth drives their buying decisions. They trust a new kind of social capital that is emerging in the social networks they create online. Your success as a business will increasingly depend on this kind of trust. To earn it, you have to find the communities that matter to your business, connect with them and spend some time.

Tara offers audiences practical ways to build social capital in the presentations based on her new book The Whuffie Factor.

Videos

The Unclear Path | TEDx

Feedback

An independent not-for-profit applied research organization:
Tara did a great job. We actually hand out a satisfaction survey at the end of every meeting to get feedback on all of the specific elements and presentations. Tara was rated as a 4.4 out of 5 (where 5 = highly satisfied and 1 = highly dissatisfied) which is a great score and was the second highest of the 2 day event.

The group also appreciated the fact that Tara stayed with us for the social part of the event and made herself available far beyond her two contracted presentations. But I am hoping that Tara enjoyed the extra exposure to the group as well.

An international funeral trade association:
As a keynote speaker and a panelist at our March, 2010 Annual Convention, Tara Hunt was a key reason for the event's success. Tara's extraordinarily broad knowledge of the social Web combined with her spirited presentation style created a rousing kick-off to our educational day. It was a very informative one-hour pick-me-up, a convention planner's dream, which is not usually what you get from presentations on technology, to say the least.

Her keynote address, participation on the "social media" panel, and book signing were all huge hits with our attendees. As a side note, I strongly recommend making it easy for attendees to get their hands on The Whuffie Factor because it is a detailed, thoroughly researched and excellently written primer on social technologies - should be required reading for anyone responsible for Web strategy.

Tara has a remarkable ability to mesh the 10,000 foot view with concrete suggestions for audience members to get involved with social technologies.

Our audience and industry as a whole are late adopters, so a comprehensive overview of the cutting edge in Web 2.0 definitely ran the risk of causing eyes to glaze over and heads to spin. But Tara humanizes and personalizes the subject matter in such a way that our attendees were rapt throughout - and the general feeling in the audience afterwards was absolutely buoyant. Bravo, Tara!

A leading consulting firm:
Tara, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your participation in the conference! Your presentation, the expertise you brought to the panel, and your contributions to the general discussions contributed significantly to the conference’s success!

A leading strategy and technology consulting firm:
Tara, you did a great job helping us understand elements of future tech and we appreciate it.

I really enjoyed your presentation; thanks for taking time to help us out.