Making Whuffie

Build Social Capital to Succeed with Social Media

“The Whuffie Factor” is a book about using social networks to build your business. The concept of whuffie (rhymes with whoopee, but don’t confuse the two) refers to social capital built through connections among and between people in communities of shared interest. This creates a sort of “cultural currency” that an organization (or individual) can “spend” for its own benefit.

The Whuffie Factor is about marketing and sales but it does have some lessons for recruiting. The main one is that in order to succeed in making hires, recruiters must actively participate in social networks in — well — a social way. What most recruiters are accustomed to is using any media or channel to push ads.

The social media recruiting strategy of many employers can be described as one of getting as broad a network as possible (followers, connections, friends), getting to know major influencers, and getting write ups or posting jobs through those. That may well have worked in a Web 1.0 world, but it won’t do much in a Web 2.0 world, where people expect to have interactions with others — which is what social media is all about.

‘Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Whuffie is about getting involved with a close-knit community, actively participating, and paying it forward. As an example, don’t just promote your company. Ask others about their companies. Participate in other’s online events and help them promote theirs. Don’t just ask them to attend yours. And help others get make connections that help them; don’t just ask for connections to people who might be interested in your jobs. Turn the bullhorn around: listen, don’t always be the one talking.

That builds up social capital and creates a currency that you can spend in pursuit of candidates. But you have to earn the currency before you can spend it. These principles are the same offline and online. Just how likely are you to help someone make connections who shows little interest in you and is only interested in using your network for their own benefit? But most people will help others they are close with and with whom they have regular interactions.

Talent Community or Marketing Database

Whuffie can be built up in talent communities, so long as they are real “communities.” Members interact with each other, share experiences and knowledge, and have a sense of belonging. But that takes time and deliberate design to ensure that there are meaningful common elements, good reasons for participating, and facilitators to make the interactions happen. This all takes time and effort and employers that can’t do so end up feeling frustrated with social media. A lot of so called talent communities are nothing more than a database of prospective candidates. They can be described as communities only if you believe that the phone book represents a community.

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I signed up for one such community and the next thing that happened was I started getting emails telling me about every job that company had open, from the an entry-level administrative role all the way to a director-level position. Really makes you feel like you’re part of something special.

Some companies have decided that the returns do not justify the effort required for a talent community to be successful. The strategy of a major cruise line is only to post stories and articles on social media sites and direct candidates to their own website. That can be automated by a content management system. Given the volume of hires the company makes and the wide diversity (in jobs, locations, and languages), a true social media strategy is not practical. What they’re doing is using social media as a channel for broadcasting ads. There’s nothing social about that. It doesn’t build Whuffie.

Recruiters need to interact with a talent community to earn whuffie, which takes time and effort. There’s no way to automate that, though it can be outsourced. Some employers have established or hired offshore teams to interact with talent communities and create whuffie, much like gamers in multi-player games buy advanced levels from “factories” in China and other countries. That has to be less satisfying than doing it yourself (much like makin’ whoopee) but either way, you have to get it before you can spend it. It’s not a one-way street which is what makes it difficult for recruiters to build a reliable, repeatable process for getting hires through social media.

The central message of The Whuffie Factor is that your social reputation is your capital. It takes time to build a reputation but do it well and you can achieve a lot.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


7 Comments on “Making Whuffie

  1. Raghav- Thanks so much for this. I am a recruiter who has not only made it through two recessions, but THRIVED in my recruiting business. WHY? “Tis better to give than receive” (reciprocity). Pretty amazing how virtues published in ancient texts thousands of years ago (Bible) actually work!

    Social Media DOES NOT work for entitled spoiled brats!

    Best to ALL, Brian-

  2. Thanks for reminding me, Raghav.
    Time to give again- Here is some job hunting info. Send it out to whoever needs it:

    Hope it helps.



    The Riley Guide (
    Job-Hunt: (
    Ask the Recruiter (
    GlassDoor (

    Here are several hundred recent (within the past 30 days or so) non-administrative Bay Area recruiting positions.You can change the search parameters to match your requirements.


    INDEED Leads for Recruiter, Recruiting, Staffing, Talent, Sourcer, Sourcing, Placement

    SIMPLY HIRED Leads for Recruit, Recruiter, Recruiting, Staffing, Talent, Sourcer, Sourcing, Placement


    Career Portals (Courtesy of Dakotta Alex) – Resource centre for top jobs in Michigan – Premier niche Career portal for All Diversity and Minority Job Candidates.

    6FigureJobs – Executive jobs for Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers and C-Level professionals.

    America’s Employers – Net-Temps is the leading job board for temporary, temp-to-perm and full time employment through the staffing industry.

    America’s Job Bank – AJB is the biggest and busiest job market in cyberspace. Job seekers can post their resume where thousands of employers search every day, search for job openings automatically, and find their dream job fast.
    Businesses can post job listings in the nation’s largest online labor exchange, create customized job orders, and search resumes automatically to find the right people, right now. – Gain access to 1,000s of employers hiring candidates just like you!

    Best Jobs USA – Top job board for finding best jobs for you in USA.

    Career Index – Find jobs in your own niche area of expertise. – Is the first recruitment site to connect employers with qualified job seekers.

    CareerBuilder – They are the nation’s leading recruitment resource, with presence in more than 130 local newspapers and more than 26 million newspaper websites each month.

    True Careers – Where millions of degreed professionals find jobs with the companies that value them. – List of websites that may help you achieve success in your career field – There systems are designed to help organizations improve their processes for obtaining human capital by leveraging the technologies that the Internet and automation can provide.

    Now Hiring – offers you one convenient source for career information, including personalized search agents, automatic matching of jobs against your resume, and expert advice on all aspects of your job hunt.

    Employment Guide – is the leading job board for hourly, skilled, full- time and part-time jobs.

    College Grad – Resource centre for employer seeking to hire college students and recent grads. – The nation’s largest network of small, midsize, and community college job seeker.

    Community Career Center – An on-line gathering place where not-for- profit employers and management personnel can meet one another.

    CoolWorks – Cool work is about you finding a seasonal job or career in some of the greatest places on Earth.

    Corestaff Searchlines – CORESTAFF Services energetically strive to deliver the best employment options for great companies and the associates we place within them.

    TAOnline – They are the largest single source of transition assistance information and tools for today’s separating military.

    FutureWorks – Massachusetts one-stop career centers.

    HotJobs – As a leader in the online recruiting industry, Yahoo! HotJobs has revolutionized the way people manage their careers and the way companies hire talent.

    Idealist – Action Without Borders connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.

    JobFactory – Provides online help for the jobseeker in the areas of JobSpider, JobSites & JobLines. – A Herald Media Company, lets you find job in your area of expertise.

    Monstertrak – Backed by the knowledge and experience of Monster, MonsterTRAK is the #1 website for students and alumni looking for full-time and part-time positions, internships & on-campus employment.

    Military Career Guide – This site will surprise you with every “click.” You will learn about how the Military instills certain qualities that help young people perform at their best during their military careers. And how these same qualities can be equally applied to civilian life long after service terms have expired.

    NationJob Network – was founded by human resources and technology professionals with a straightforward goal: to save our clients money by helping them find qualified candidates with a minimum investment of time and effort.

    NetTemp – Net-Temps is the leading job board for temporary, temp-to- perm and full time employment through the staffing industry.

    Non-Profit Jobs Cooperative – It is a collaboration of nonprofit Management Service Organizations (MSOs) from across the United States.

    USAJobs – It is the official job site of the United States Federal Goverment. – Job seekers and professionals have discovered that Vault is the Internet’s ultimate destination for insider company information, advice, and career management services. – Provides industry specific career channels with a wealth of information tailored to your career goals.


    Career Sites (Courtesy of Barry Geiman)
    for-LimitedNY (cut and paste into your browse)


    Using Linkedin to Find a Job (Courtesy of Zale Tabakman)

    “…Today, I received what feels like my 3 millionth request for somebody to look in my network to help them find a job. They all say blah blah blah…. if you know anybody that can help me please forward their resume. And these requests come from people who I don’t know. And many times, this is my first contact with these people. I understand that looking for a job is stressful. I understand that trying to find a job to the pay the rent is important. But, I also have things that are important to me to accomplish. I assume I am not alone in this. But, that being said, I want to help people find a job, and I know LinkedIn is becoming the single most effective way for people to find jobs, business partners, and other types of connections.

    Here is what I recommend that somebody looking for a job do.
    1. Decide what kind of work you want to do, Make sure you have a clear goal
    described. For example: “I want to be the Manager of Internet, Marketing for a, company doing 400 million in sales. The company should be located in, Boston or, vicinity, and less than 45 minute commute. The company must be selling, electronic, equipment for consumers ” While this seems to restrict the amount of potential companies, it in fact, makes it easier to find that company.
    2. The next step is to decide who can help you reach that goal. Not the name – but a description of what the people do and where they might live, etc. In the example, I would be looking for recruiters who focus on placing marketing executives in Boston. A second target would be VP’s of Marketing for large companies in electronic companies in Boston. I am sure a little thought, and you can find a number of other categories of people.
    3. The next step would be to watch my course Seven Ways to Generate Business With LinkedIn.
    4. Then use LinkedIn to find the correct contact the people in the most effective way – which is probably via telephone. I would have a conversation with them, understand their needs. Don’t ask about a job – ask about what is happening with the industry. Have a discussion with the person. Tell them you are looking for a job – use the description you created in Step 1. If you are a match and there is an opening – the contact on the phone will say – send me a resume – or say “Hey – Call Bob at XYZ he may have an opening.”
    5. If you are going to contact a recruiter – which you should – make sure your e-mail or introduction is two paragraphs in length. One is the description of the kind of job you are looking for. The second paragraph describes EXACTLY why you are qualifed for that job. A good recruiter only needs one minute to decide if you are a fit for a client she is looking for. If you are not – the recruiter will ignore you. Don’t worry – if she does have a client that meets your needs, she will find you.
    6. There are thousands of recruiters on LinkedIn – Don’t you think one of them has a job for you? Only small underfunded companies don’t use recruiters. Some do use in-house recruiters. But, they are the effectively the same as independents.
    7. NEVER EVER SEND OUT OUT A RESUME to people in your LinkedIn Network and say ‘Do you know somebody in your network that can hire me?”. You are, telling, me, you are too lazy to find your own job….”


  3. Hi Raghav, This was a VERY insightful and thought provoking article. I’ve already passed it on to two others in organizations that use social media, but not to this extent…which brings up the only problem regarding your premise that I am constantly grappling with. That difficulty has to do with time; namely, my time.

    It’s hard enough to get done the multitude of tasks required just to move business ahead each day and complete all the many details of every transaction. Then there is the need to keep in touch on Linked-In and Facebook and Twitter and oh, yeah, my Blog which needs updating and new data constantly. What ideas do you have for organizing this activity without needing to work 12 hours + every day?

  4. Raghav – this is a terrific excellent extrapolation of Tara Hunt’s excellent book for those in the Talent Management arena. You certainly grasp the key issues that companies are grappling with when trying to use traditional marketing techniques with Social Web tools. One of the early players in crafting a Community based recruiting model has been Microsoft – and they have put extensive resources toward their effort. What they found early on was that one giant company wide community with thousands of members didn’t work. As you so aptly point out, it’s all about engagement – and its tough to engage with a large group effectively. Breaking down the engagement into division, department or team aligned communities allows for engagement with people of like minded interests and provides the ability to deliver a focused talent based message.

    Another book that really explains the engagement economy well with direct applications and a road map for its use is, “The Thank You Economy,” by Gary Vaynerchuk – I highly recommend it.

    For anyone that is daunted by the effort needed to create a community of people interested in your activity or business – there are solutions. First is to set the level of expectations of the amount of interactions you can fit in to your week – if you engage genuinely people will seek you out at thsoe times. The other is to engage a company to do it for you – but make sure that they use YOUR voice and not a mish mosh of what they think you would say…either way the objective is to build up a “social graph” of connections and interactions that will fuel your talent management goals (here’s another take:

    Great article…just haven’t bought in to using “whuffie” in a sentence yet…(Oops…)

  5. Here’s an article about Dunbar’s number which suggests that a community size of 150 will is optimum for a community if it is highly incentivized to remain together. (This also seems to apply to online communities).
    Essentially, as we increase group sizes, we typically do so by breaking larger groups down into smaller ones, and continually reducing community sizes down to the point where they can be understood and managed by people — and so efficiency reasserts itself.

  6. Spot on Keith…in the ten years we have managed Talent Communities our experience completely supports Dunbars assertions. In fact, we actually find that an even smaller number works best 75-100 because you can create a greater feeling of participation for even the folks that like to sit on the sidelines and merely observe Community activities. We’ve also had ones that were 325-350 for some larger fields and with these the work needed to maintain interest is greater – but the rewards are greater too…its always a balance based on the objectives you’re shooting for in terms of ROI…

  7. Thanks, K.C. One thing I’m curious about is how to deal with groups as they exceed optimim size? Whats a good way to create, manage optimum size “modules” in a larger organization? (There’s some consulting money to be made effectively answering that question!)



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