Tara Hunt, co-founder of Citizen Agency  and author of The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business , appears on Fast Company's, "The Most Influential Women in Technology: The Evangelists ." Here she shares "7 Ways to Increase Your Whuffie Factor."
- Be human. Blur the lines between personal and professional in a way that makes you approachable, warm, funny, modest, passionate and empathetic. Whether you are using Facebook groups or Twitter, a nice blend of your personal and professional thoughts will attract more conversations and win you more friends...leading to more Whuffie.
- Be willing to admit when you are wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Companies screw up. People sometimes don't realize when they say or do something that hurts someone else. The beauty of flubbing in a public arena is that you can also rectify it there, too. The more humility you show and the more you demonstrate your ability to listen and improve, the more Whuffie you will gain in the community.
- Listen and respond...but mostly listen. Many companies and individuals are tracking their names on Twitter and blogs and doing a great job of raising their Whuffie by pro-actively listening and responding quickly to people's concerns. When people feel heard, their trust grows for the company that listens.
- Pro-actively look for ways you can contribute. It is also important to attempt to join in general conversations on websites like Twitter, blogs and social networks, even if they don't completely apply to you. If you demonstrate that you are engaging on a more personal level with someone, that person will like you more. So, if you are following someone who is having a rough day, send them a message to brighten their day; or if someone is raising money for a good cause, help by donating or re-posting their request. These little things go a long way to raising oodles of Whuffie.
- Lean towards being more open and transparent. Of course there will be some things better kept as secrets (proprietary data, impending announcements, etc.), but anywhere you are able to open up, do it. Companies that publish works in progress will benefit from a great deal of feedback and input from their customers. People running events will benefit from livestreaming and allowing for photos and liveblogging to create curiosity and excitement around the event. Individuals trying to make a big decision will benefit from publishing the question openly so people can help them out. When I was writing my book, I kept publishing questions wherever I got stuck. I raised a great deal of Whuffie for myself and excitement for the book because people got involved in the creation of it.
- Think customer-centrically. Thinking customer-centrically means that, as you interact, design, dream, think, speak, post and build, you put the customer's needs at the center. The best way to raise bucketloads of Whuffie is to raise bucketloads of Whuffie for your customers. How can you empower them? Help them achieve what they need to achieve? Dream bigger? Connect with others? Even those of us who are trying to make a living are the customers of others trying to make a living. Imagine how you want to be treated as a customer and what you need to go further, then deliver that.
- Remember that everyone has an audience. Influencers and bigwigs aren't the only ones with audiences anymore. Everyone has an audience and the ability to influence. By interacting with everyone in a way that shows they are valued will go a long way to raising huge Whuffie. In fact, those who aren't used to being treated that way will appreciate it even more and become your biggest evangelists...they could even be future bigwigs.
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