Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails posted an amazing blueprint for what a new or unknown musical artist should do and focus on in trying to gain a following. The basic gist is that the creation of music is just the beginning of the relationship with fans and if it just ends there, you will not be successful no matter your definition of success.
Have your MySpace page, but get a site outside MySpace – it’s dying and reads as cheap / generic. Remove all Flash from your website. Remove all stupid intros and load-times. MAKE IT SIMPLE TO NAVIGATE AND EASY TO FIND AND HEAR MUSIC (but don’t autoplay). Constantly update your site with content – pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and start a community. Engage your fans (with caution!) Make cheap videos. Film yourself talking. Play shows. Make interesting things. Get a Twitter account. Be interesting. Be real. Submit your music to blogs that may be interested. NEVER CHASE TRENDS. Utilize the multitude of tools available to you for very little cost of any – Flickr / YouTube / Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.
All of the above can really be boiled down to one word, whuffie. Yes, that wacky term from Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom but the idea is very relevant to anyone since the more you interact with people, the more ways you are judged.
Each time you Google someone’s name to see what they are about or what they’ve done, you are checking out their whuffie. The open source world thrives on the idea of whuffie. You know people based on their IRC handle or email address. When someone who has earned the right to commit code into the main repository, they have done so by creating enough whuffie that they are trusted.
All of this comes together in Tara Hunt’s new book, The Whuffie Factor. The main focus of the book is how companies can increase their whuffie with customers, how they can focus on creating conversations and communities. This whuffie is enhanced by interactions with social media, things like Flickr and Twitter or even Facebook. Every company is different and how they interact with their customers needs to flow from within the company not just what others have done. There’s nothing worse than seeing a company try to hard to do this and it come off as shallow or insincere.
I read the book thinking how my company and even my parent company could do more to create the positive whuffie necessary for survival in the 21st century. It seems like such a big task, one that doesn’t seem feasible. But that’s the challenge for each of us, find places where we can interject and move our companies to have a customer-centric outlook instead of only viewing things from a purely revenue-centric model.
The only critique I have for the book is not really a fair one. I was looking for a silver bullet on how I could increase my personal whuffie instead of just the company’s. My hope was much the same as any writing books I’ve picked up through the years, that I’d find the secret, one that didn’t require much work but instead a simple formula and BOOM!, I’d be an author.
But that isn’t how you write nor is it how you create your whuffie. You do so with each blog post, each Tweet, each Flickr photo, each comment on someone else’s blog, each time you get involved in something larger than yourself. That’s how you build whuffie up. Tara has created an amazing amount of whuffie for herself in all that she has done. I’m very glad she was able to share some of the ways she did in the book. Definitely pick it up if you have the chance, it is well worth it.
Just as a disclaimer, Tara’s publisher sent me a review copy. I didn’t have to promise anything in return and I definitely would have purchased the book on its first day if it would have been necessary. In fact, I probably should just to support @missrogue.