Social Capital and The Whuffie Factor

This fantastic interview with the Threadless founders. Tara (blogger at HorsePigCow) put the video together and has written a book recently called the Whuffie Factor about businesses that are succeeding by leveraging web2.0/social media and of course the community. Threadless is probably one of the best examples of a community driven company and this idea is one which just keeps on coming back around. 

In the past I have referred to this as social equity but I have to say that social capital is a far better phrase which is easy to understand and far more explanatory. So what is the Whuffie factor, why should you care and what are businesses doing with regards to it?

What’s Your Whuffie?

The idea of the Whuffie factor comes rom a book called ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom’ and it is basically the replacement of currency. In the book the explanation is that currency becomes replaced by worth, it becomes replaced by the content of character rather than their pockets or wallets. This is the notion which web 2.0 is leading us towards and that is why there is such a buzz around this new way of thinking, one which I wholeheartedly support. 

Social Capital 

Social capital is all about the worth of the individual, their activities, their desires and likes, their ability to contribute, their knowledge and their group identity. We can find people’s values through setting up multiple data points and then we can decide what each person or group is worth. Essentially if we take a look at social media, those who regularly contribute, those who create groups and connections and those who are active within those groups rank high on the Whuffie pint scale and they are the people who businesses should be targeting. 

Leveraging For Business

Ultimately this falls under everything that I have been saying about businesses for a long time, especially those businesses who are working within social. They absolutely must start and then continue to use their users in order to create a better service and product. This is not an extreme viewpoint, it is one which is absolutely pragmatic and it is one which not enough businesses are paying attention to. The users are the ones driving the business now, it is up to the company to allow users to do that and to create a structure, using metrics which value each user, to propel the business forward and create an environment where users have the chance to contribute and work towards a business of co-creation. 

Those businesses who get it will do very well, those who don’t, are going to look back and regret that they didn’t take the idea of ‘Whuffie’ seriously.