Step 5 of 5: Find Your Higher Purpose

This is the last part in my series sharing my notes from Tara Hunt’s book “The Power of Social Networking”, which i found very influential. The previous parts were:

  1. Turn the Bullhorn Around

  2. Become Part of the Community You Serve
  3. Be Notable
  4. Embrace the Chaos

Click to play Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” while you read! Caution: freaky visuals. ↓

The path to “finding your higher purpose” (and let’s remember that this is a book about business and social networking) seems to begin in a gift economy: Ms. Hunt say that gifts – which can be physical, but are more often intangibles like empowerment, kindness, choice, passion, connection, etc. – give away create unspoken reciprocal bonds and build up the social capital account. She introduces a concept of “DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD“, which she defines as building a product or service that benefits others, and making money as a result. This strikes me as an inherently trusting philosophy, and higher purpose is built right into the core. The gift, Ms. Hunt says, is that by using or purchasing your product, people are helping you to be a better Citizen.

Think Customer-Centrically

This is more than just good customer service…it’s more than “the customer is always right”…it’s passing along savings, sending them to competitors if you can’t meet their needs, giving them tools to interact between brands they’re loyal to…

  • Send customers to other sites constantly (remember the hub-bub in “Miracle on 34th Street”? That ended quite well for Cole’s, although it’s even easier if your competitors are inflexible and evil. :))

  • Measure success by how many people refer their friends
  • Use sites/tools like Flickr and YouTube
  • Be delighted that customers take time out of their lives to talk about your product or service
  • Customer service policy is to do right by them and be fair
  • Customers are doing new and interesting things with your product, and posting online about it
  • Influencers are adding your as friends on social networks and inviting you to speak at their conferences
  • Meet with competitors to see how you can work together toward better customer experiences for all
  • Understand that you’re competing for customer attention with EVERY product, service, and activity out there, and be thankful to have some of it.

Help Others Go Further

Any tool or framework that is inexpensive or free, open and accessible, and simple enough for a non-expert to use is considered a “building block” – they are online and offline tools that enable any person to carry her voice further. Building blocks are meant to be used together to achieve the goals of people wanting to change the political, personal, or professional status quo.
Can you think of examples of building blocks that you use or offer? Tell us in the Comments below!

Spread Love

The next step is to not only help your community members go further, but to help them HELP OTHERS go further. In Ms. Hunt’s social capital model, this is the goldmine! She introduces Akoha, which is a social “play it forward” game based around “Missions” such as “Take a picture of your favorite local delicacy”, “Do one thing in your day that will increase your activity level. Post about what you tried”, and “Write four adjective about the teacher who inspired you the most”. “These missions,” says Akoha, “are meant to encourage users to discover new experiences, capture them, and share them with friends.”

Promote Something Bigger Than You

Higher purpose needs to be divorced altogether from your sales or any other vested interest, and may have little or nothing to do with your company or product.


i know, i know. Remember how i said it’s a gift economy and inherently trusting? We’re asking that you be adding something of value to our world; that your gift to us is really the end-function of your efforts. We’re asking that you trust us to recognize that, and reward you socially and financially. Your service or product needs to be infused with the ends, and acknowledged as the means.
What is your higher purpose? What is your valuable gift to our world? Comment below!

Four Stages of Community

  1. Feelings of Membership – boundaries, emotional safety, sense of belonging and identification, personal investment, common symbols

  2. Feelings of Influence – people feel they are being heard and learning from your site and colleagues
  3. Integration and Fulfillment of Needs – people feel that they can influence others, and see social capital gains because of it
  4. Shared Emotional Connection – people can’t imagine themselves without the community

    Think of communities you’re a part of. What stage are you in within them? How are you helping people advance through the stages in the community you’ve built?

    i highly recommend Tara Hunt’s “The Power of Social Networking: Using the Whuffie Factor to Build Your Business“, and get no immediate or directly tangible benefit from you buying and reading it. :)

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2 Responses to Step 5 of 5: Find Your Higher Purpose

  1. My special-snowflake gift to the world: permission to embrace your inner lazy person. (OK, no, it’s not really laziness. It’s working way-smarter but as easily as possible. ‘Cause, dang it, there are television shows to be watched! They’re not gonna watch themselves, y’know…

    Good post, Evan!

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