Brief: Tara Hunt & thoughts on the “socialness” of social media

This morning at the Ottawa Social Media Breakfast, here author, approved blogger, and apparently karaoke devotee, Tara “missrogue” Hunt delivered a terrific session around the concepts in her book The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business. Here are a few thoughts.

Wide - TARA

Some great points:

  • Customer needs (not buying patterns) should drive all marketing.
  • Marketers need to map their activities to buying behaviour.
  • Social media customer relations won’t fix core problems.
  • Influencers aren’t as important as Enthusiasts. Nice!
  • Think about your customers’ enthusiasm for you – and your status with them – as currency (“Whuffie”).

You can find out more about all this at Tara’s blog.

Back to the “Social” in Social Media

But while Tara’s ideas had my synapses firing and my head nodding furiously, one thing she said took me back. In one of her opening slides she put these words on the screen “Social Media is about… being social.”

But it’s not, and that’s why I’ve been going on about the reasons Social Media needs a new name.

It isn’t just “Social”; it’s much much bigger


I totally get what Tara was saying of course, which was that today, people associate these tools with social (as in largely free-time) connections and less with work-related activities, and not at all with connecting to companies. She uses the chart (right) to bolster her argunment.

I also agree with her point that the impulse to use social media is based on basic human neural wiring that propels us to reach out to like-minded humans to form tribes / communities / clusters of information / what have you.

So two questions I’m thinking about:

Saying “Social Media is about… being social” is an apt description of the way things are today,  but is it the way things have to be?

Maybe this is where we as business communicators and particularly branders have to look at a chart like this and say “we have a lot of work to do” before people take these tools seriously.

2 thoughts on “Brief: Tara Hunt & thoughts on the “socialness” of social media”

  1. I’m starting to see my social (read: personal) and professinoal worlds merging. So far, Linkedin is 99% professional, facebook is 5% professinoal and and Twitter is 95% professinoal. But I’m seeing the numbers shifting, particularly in Facebook, where I recently added two former bosses as friends, for example. Let’s face it, can you really say no to all your coworkers/former bossed when they “friend” you? No, eventually the worlds will collide. This is where filters become important. I’m always struggling between making my Wall visible to my “work-related” list, versus only making it visible to Friends/Family. Decisions decisions, filters filters!

    Oh, and let’s not even talk about the multiple twitter accounts. LOL!


    1. That’s been my experience too Ana: I definitely try to project a different “brand promise” to my Linked-In audience (jacket, occasional tie) my Twitter audience (business causual) and Facebook (jeans and a t-shirt). And while I can loosely refer to all of these as having “social” aspects, the common defining element is not their “socialness” but their “dialogue / network / connected-ness” (forgive the abuse of English syntax there).

      Does cross-over happen? Sure. But it always makes me cringe when someone talks about “marketing” in Facebook, or “beer” on Linked-In.

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