Online Reputation Management in Digital Marketing with Tara Hunt


Your online reputation is what Tara Hunt calls you whuffie.

I first heard about “The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business” on Brian Obkerich’s podcast.

I was so taken with Tara Hunt, featured in that interview, that I pinged her whuffie.

Now, when I was a kid, if you pinged a girl’s whuffie without asking permission first, you’d have gotten smacked across the face. 

But nowadays, you can ping anyone’s whuffie, and all it takes is a couple of key strokes. 

Whuffie isn’t what it sounds like. 

It’s social capital, or online reputation, and it has real value. 

According to Tara Hunt, who borrows the term from a science fiction novel by Boing Boing blogger Cory Docotrow, whuffie is currency in digital world.

When I pinged Tara Hunt’s whuffie, which in this case just meant that I Googled her name in quotes for an exact phrase match, I found all kinds of content she had created and that others had created about her.  And those search results formed the basis of online reputation management in digital marketing. 

According to research from Tom Smith of the Global Web Index, search is now the most popular way people source opinions on products, brands, and services. 

But in this case, my perception of Tara’s personal brand was shaped by an amalgamation of blogging, podcasting, video, and other tidbits, all of which I found through organic search.

Someone’s probably pinging your whuffie right now, and you don’t even know it.  

Because in digital marketing, your online reputation, which is much of what you’ve done and how others feel about it, is being collected, stored, and made public.  The only thing you can do about it is be nice, so there’s not much bad stuff people can say about you.

It all made good sense to me, and I was so intrigued by Tara Hunt, aka @missrogue’s way of looking at social media that I placed an advance order for her book (it wasn’t out yet) and invited her to present at my Digital Marketing Master Class, which she graciously accepted. 

When she showed up, she was so compelling that I recommended her to the Public Relations Society of America to speak at the Digital Impact Conference as well, I conference that draws PR firms nationwide, which I also keynote and chair, and where she has just completed giving the afternoon digital marketing keynote about, what else, but The Whuffie Factor.

Online Reputation Management in Digital Marketing Takeaways

  • Turn that bullhorn around.  People don’t want to be treated like numbers, which is why they go to their friends for advice.  It’s about trust.  Your friends aren’t trying to sell you something.  Friend aren’t impersonal.  Your friends care about you.
  • Turn it around now, because news travels faster through social networks than any other channel.  Check out Direct2Dell, which turned the whuffie deficit from the Jeff Jarvis Dell Hell blog storm, to a whuffie making machine.
  • The web is killing mass marketing, because you can’t effectively address the interests of individuals with a message that appeals to the broadest possible audience.
  • These are my words, not hers, but my takeaway is that when everyone’s an influencer, how you do business is more important than the business that you do. 
  • Inject fun into the experience people have with your brand.  Hide hypothetical “easter eggs” on your website for people to find, and talk about.  Do something like Flickr’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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