[Video] “Social Networking” at the (alleged) end of Web 2

Tara Hunt’s pioneering work at the dawn of web 2.0 generated a completely new approach to social networking, by turning the bullhorn around as she called it. Now as web3 makes bombastic and illustrious promises on progressively more unstable architecture, we look back at What web2 did, to see what web 3 really changed.

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What did the power of social networking teach us about web 2?

1. How social capital makes people “Whuffie Rich”

Tara Hunt’s original title for “The Power of Social Networking” was “The Whuffie Factor” based on Corey Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” in which Whuffie acted as a form of social currency you could ping on an embedded HUD. Of course, the concept of Whuffie and social capital as a formal currency would be dystopian at best—Doctorow himself abhors the inequality it would easily produce in his article, “Whuffie Would be a Terrible Currency.”

In fact, implementing a pure Meritocracy in which social capital is a formal currency broke china when they attempted to implement the Social Credit System as a nationally mandatory and highly invasive function.

Yet, In The power of social networking Hunt describes how Social Capital became the de-facto currency of the internet.

  • Economic Capital is conferred and retained by individuals through the collection and maintenance of valuable assets. By selling and borrowing against those assets you accrue debt, income, investments, and more assets.
  • Social Capital on the other hand is conferred and retained by giving services, assets, and items away. Giving valuable assets, investing in others, and offering services at no economic cost amasses social capital in the forms of trust, reputation, and notoriety.

What’s the difference between social capital and social currency?

  • Social Capital is concerned with the exchange and value of trust factors such as trust and reputation but is not necessarily concerned with the actions and behaviors that exchange that trust.
  • Social Currency on the other hand is concerned with the psycho-social behaviors that confer that value. Here at SociallyConstructed.Online we break social currency down into 5 major parts that build up to produce “trust.”
    • Transparency – Are you genuinely and Authentically putting your best foot forward?
      • Are you walking the walk or all talk? Are you hot air, or face value?
    • Utility – Are you providing a useful product, service, or content? is your brand viable?
      • Are you aware of your audience well enough to solve specific pain points?
    • Consistency – Are you demonstrating that utility reliably over time?
      • Do you show up in support tickets, at events regularly, or product regular content?
    • Merit – Do you have a proven track record that the thing you are providing has succeeded?
      • Have others demonstrated success? Is there valid social proof in your work?
    • Reputation – Have you demonstrated trust and success in other industries or markets?
      • Are others vouching for you? Do you have lots of good reviews?

Demonstrating and performing these goals confer the token-capital Tara outlines above and wraps into a concept of “trust.” We’ve written an entire blog outlining these in our blog on our social currency metrics system here.

2. Tara’s chief advice: “Turn the bullhorn around”

The second big takeaway from “The Power of Social Networking” lies in Tara’s go-to,d de-facto advice for companies looking to network and gain notoriety in online spaces. She recommends 5 main things that companies need to do, and they ALL boil down to the quote, “When interacting with your audience you need to turn the bull horn around.”

In Web 1.0 the nature of the internet was a one-to-many interaction in which brands could higher a website engineer to build them a site, and they could sell that site to a virtual audience who would purchase the book. In Web 2.0 however, brand audiences expected to build relationships with people in organizations before they would commit themselves to purchasing anything.

“When interacting with your audience you need to turn the bull horn around.”

Tara Hunt
The Power of Social Networking
Formally “The Whuffie Factor”

Brands had to develop a relationship with their audiences and deal in social currency for increasingly longer periods of time before they could sell a product. An average customer in 1.0 would read 2 or 3 things about the brand before they decided to buy. In 2.0 that amount of time spent before a purchase gradually rose as people expected more and more from a brand.

To accomplish this Tara recommended that companies…

  1. Publically listen to and integrate feedback in social channels
  2. Use several personable brands rather than an organizational brand
  3. Become a genuine part of the community you’re serving
  4. Go above and beyond in private support networks
  5. Appeal to the emotions of your audiences and make it fun
  6. Make the mundane, fashionable
  7. Design for the user experience in all of your assets
  8. Simplify your products
  9. Become a social catalyst for good – take positions
  10. Release that iron grip on your brand. Embrace the Chaos of virtual worlds.

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3. Community and networking were supposed to be Web 2 – Have we learned nothing?!

One of the most important takeaways of Tara Hunt’s recommendations is that a new Web 3, which we’ll be writing about in the next week or so, hasn’t really changed anything about Web 2. Web 3 has promised decentralization but it is centralizing everything on blockchains. It’s promised safety security and anonymity by diversifying data and putting it in the hand of end-users, but instead, it’s given egregious amounts of data to people with immense amounts of influence, within the blockchain.

After reading Tara Hunt’s book, it is clear to me that Web 2’s major players in social media, governance, and industry have failed to heed Tara’s advice. This has created a worse internet. Web 3 is advertising an end-all panacea snake-oil fix to these problems but in reality, Web 3 hasn’t changed anything. It’s simply a second attempt at what we failed to do – but it’s not setting itself up very well.

Web 3 hasn’t changed anything. It’s simply a second attempt at what we failed to do – but it’s not setting itself up very well.

Venia Logan reviewing Tara Hunt

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For instance, she wrote this at the beginning of web 2.0 and she has been calling social networks on a whole (Facebook and Twitter) communities throughout the book because, at the time, they legitimately did count as online communities.

Now they are the furthest from that definition but house hundreds of legitimate communities in their own right on their platforms. They scaled and she’s almost entirely predicted that they would have trouble doing so. She predicted that advertising would create a world of privacy problems in chapter 2, and she predicted that businesses would have trouble competing.

In chapter 3 where she outlines the 5 tips to building community, it’s hilarious that they are still the exact same knowledge and information David Spinks had in the business of belonging. The notion of community and social listening being her first tip was a big deal to me and I live on the concept now.

  1. I saw that parallel with the SPARK model, too. 🤨
  2. love “Turn the bullhorn around”.👍🏻1
  3. I’m reading this in parallel with “Making Numbers Count”, and it’s really interesting.

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Venia Logan

I’ve spent the past 9 years learning the diverse skills necessary to create strong stable online communities that put your brand’s services at their center. ​​I started my own YouTube channel in 2010, and RESCQU.NET in 2013. I worked for Constant Contact, and returned to college for a specialization in online community management. Then I attained all 12 certifications from DigitalMarketer and helped dozens of communities. Spend fewer resources advertising to cold contacts or buying paid media and get back to focusing on what you love by growing a community that is financially and socially rewarding for you.