Tara Hunt

Author, The Whuffie Factor

A pioneering expert in online communities and marketing.

Add to Shortlist tarahunt.com @missrogue
Featured Media

Biography

“Before Timeline and tweets, before a blog was called a blog, before anyone even knew what a web browser was, Tara Hunt was there. Often labeled a pioneer of online and social marketing, the Canadian has been an observer of the realm's development and a force in influencing it.” ~ Entrepreneur Magazine, January, 2013

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 has over 16 years experience in market research and strategy on both client and agency side. She is an author of a book released in seven languages worldwide, has been quoted in dozens books and articles, spoken at over 150 conferences, was named one of 2013's Entrepreneurial Women to Watch by Entrepreneur magazine, and one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in Fast Company.

She not only talks the talk of building community online, she also walks the walk. She is a LinkedIN Influencer, followed by over 90,000 people. Her Slideshare presentations have been viewed over 1.7 million times. She is in the top 5% of Twitter users worldwide with over 51,000 followers.

She is one of the most respected and cited thought leaders in audience development — how to understand the audience, what delights them, what they will respond to, and where/when/how to reach them. She combines a data-centric with a human-centric approach to building an audience, leaning heavily on insights into consumer patterns and behaviors while keeping an eye on online trends and changing expectations.

Today’s marketing is not about pushing messages through one-way conversations, 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.

Tara Hunt was instrumental in making BarCamp, an international network of user-generated conferences, a worldwide phenomenon. She was one of the founders 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
  • Director, Audience Development, Totem.tc
  • Social Digital Lead, MSLGROUP
  • Creative Director, Social & Digital, Justin Trudeau’s LPC Leadership Campaign
  • Founder, Buyosphere.com
  • Marketing Director, Intuit Partner Platform
  • Director of Strategy, Citizen Agency
  • Online Marketing Director, Riya.com (now an engine behind Google’s product Search)

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.

Working with Digital Influencers

Tara has worked with digital influencers since 2004, but it within the past few years that digital influencers have surpassed traditional celebrities in audience size and clout. Variety Magazine published a study in 2014 that showed that, of the top 20 biggest influences, 10 were YouTubers, who also occupied the top 5 positions. More and more, people — and especially Millennials and Gen Z — are following and listening to their more accessible peers on digital platforms. Tara explains why this is, why your brand will benefit in working with them, and how to approach digital influencers in a way that works best for you, the influencers and their audience.

Presentation

Articles:
Why Digital Influencers Matter More Than Ever
What do YouTubers Have that Brands Can Learn From?
Why YouTubers are Cashing In (hint: they are worth it)
Can't Buy Me Love: following the social engagement protocol

Collaboration and Digital Culture

“The web isn’t about tools and technology, it’s about culture.” This presentation took the audience from thinking about the technology and platforms to deeply understanding the humans interacting on the social web: what motivates them, where memes come from, and how brands can and have tapped into digital culture to grow their audience and, ultimately, their sales.

Presentation

Article:
The Key to Marketing in the Social Era: Understanding Digital Culture

Content Marketing: here is my magic content wand

Everyone is talking about the importance of content in a marketing mix, but very few take the time to do it right. Content marketing can be an incredibly powerful way to engage your audience — just look at how Native Advertising through networks like Buzzfeed has really delivered on ROI — but most brands are afraid to make the investment. This presentation walks you through what makes great content and demonstrates how brands have benefited from it.

Presentation

Articles:
Let Me Wave my Magical Content Wand
The Secret to Great Social Content

Retailers and Social Media: How to Become a Social Retailer

Marketing activities that push the interests of a company doesn’t fall under the definition of social. There has to be mutual benefit. While the company benefits by selling a product, the customer should benefit as well.

Presentation

Article:
Becoming a Social Retailer

Market Research + Insights

When most people think of marketing, they think of the ads and promotions — the visible stuff. But for the great campaigns, the real magic happens long before those ads and promotions are even dreamt up. The real magic happens in the research and insights.

The job of anyone in audience development is to figure out the right strategy to reach the right people at the right time through the right channels...and for the right budget. This presentation is all about how to conduct the research to get deep cultural, behavioral, audience, competitive, market, and category insights that will drive a winning strategy.

Articles:
Big Data? No. SMART Data
Research is 75% of Audience Development

Happiness as Your Business Model

Research shows that people are driven by human connection, finding autonomy, and leveling up and that raising the volume on any of these will raise personal happiness. Many brands pay lip service to happiness, but they act oppositional to this. This presentation is all about how you incorporate raising your customer happiness at the core of your business model.

Presentation

Articles:
Are You Building Facebook's Empire, Or Your Own?
Happiness as Core to Your Business Model

Building Online Communities: 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.

Presentation

OTHER TOPICS:

Leadership
Entrepreneurship
Social Media
Online Marketing

Videos

The Unclear Path | TEDx

Thinc Iowa 2012

Your social media strategy won't save you

Social Media Insights | CMA National Convention

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.