Let me share a thought that I am sure you’ve entertained at some point in the past year: Social media can feel overwhelmingly commercial. Many tools have been introduced to entice advertising agencies and their clients to develop every campaign and measure every engagement. With marketing budgets shifting to digital media, and a cultural embrace of social media at every turn – I’ve seen newscasts showcasing a Tweetdeck feed in the style of BET’s 106 and Park – the online buzz can make the casual observer forget that websites can be .orgs as much as .coms.
Now let me introduce a book that truly brings the social back into social media: The Big Book of Social Media – Case Studies, Stories and Perspectives by Robert Fine. A Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University, Fine is editor of The Social Media Monthly and creator of the Cool Social Conference World Tour and Government 2.5 events. Fine has compiled a compelling series of cases meant for nonprofits and civil organizations as much as for small businesses. I met him at his booth at the Blog World Expo in New York City in May. He generously provided a copy of his book for this review, and as I delved into it I was further impressed. I think you will be hard pressed to find an equally encompassing resource that naturally blends the human spirit and commercial how-tos of social media.
Learn the best uses of social media from experiences all over the globe
I loved the scope of the book, and easily tore into the appropriately named segments: Business and Social Media, Technical, Verticals, The Media, Government, Employment, Nonprofits, The Artists, Global Perspectives and Moving Forward. No section contained a used-car-salesman-with-a-’70s-jacket hard sell on social media. Instead, the cases are crafted and arranged as seamlessly as parts on an Aston Martin – all working in concert to create a premium experience. These honest descriptions of human interaction with social media are made compelling by Fine’s effort to bring so many voices into the book.
Some of the highlights:
- The segment ConnectedCOPS by Laura Stevens covers the double-edged sword of how criminals have used social media as beneficially as the police have.
- A short case on JobAngels, a grassroots nonprofit that helps the unemployed find jobs, is meant to show what one person can do by simply being helpful.
- The Quantified Tweet – Healthcare and Social Media provides 140 ideas for using Twitter for health-related messages. Author Phil Baumann, founder of Health Is Social, wishes for better synchronization among essential information relevant to health:
“It’s the non-social uses of digital technologies, including social media, which will reveal to us worlds of opportunities perhaps only envisioned in science fiction. We are only beginning to understand how these social technologies can be used in health care….what we need, however, are the processes which enable the right kinds of interpretation of the data which radiates from our skin to the deep core of our invisibly glowing hearts.”
The subject does not delve into specifics on how that sync is established or associated concerns such as data security. But thoughts are expressed so well as to inspire new ideas.
Is the world flat for all?
International perspectives are represented as well. Twitter Evolution in India by Shrinatg Navghane notes the increase of social media among the 18-to-35 age group in that country. He shares how Skoda reached out to him through Twitter and explains the marketing efforts of Hippo, a new snack brand attracting many members of India’s burgeoning middle class.
#TeAmosEcuador (I Love Ecuador) by Alfred Naranjo reveals a movement to tweet about August 10th, a historical date of independence for Ecuador. Naranjo, a systems engineer and father of three, coordinated other Ecuadorian Twitter users into a 200,000-tweet movement around the hashtag #TeAmosEducador. The stats on the country and its Internet access are astounding. Says Naranjo, while noting the contrast to Thomas Friedman’s concepts in the book The World Is Flat:
“With a population of about 14 million inhabitants, just about 16 percent of the population of Ecuador has Internet access. Very low compared of other South American countries: 64 percent in Argentina, 52 percent in Uruguay or 50 percent in Chile.”
Social media measurement cases show more than counting tweets
The Big Book includes some basic “be authentic” messages and social media tips, but the reminders come from fresh faces and other luminaries. Shashi Bellamkonda, director of social media for Network Solutions, offers a case study of his company’s movement past outdated data and suggests ways to develop a conversation-and-listening strategy. The tactics can inspire those who know to listen online, but don’t yet know which tools would help. An analytics review from Pek Pongpet explains measurement basics with wonderful graphic details, and can easily complement books like Social Media Metrics.
There’s still that .com perspective in some of the cases. And in-depth details would have helped round out some sections, as in the health care case. Nonetheless, Fine has given all a voice. For example, Small Nonprofit Wins Major League shows how a women’s nonprofit attracted interest from large organizations, namely Major League Baseball, the right way. This is uber-useful for small businesses that have few resources yet want to operate like the big dogs.
A friend shared a great snippet reminding how a vocal minority can distort conversation and why being informed on a broad range of topics over parroting narrow interests is essential. The Big Book of Social Media does a splendid job of including perspectives on social activism and public service. Even more wonderful, a second book and specialty versions aimed at public organization are forthcoming. Given the corporate fixation on digital tools that has consumed the Internet like the viral cloning of Agent Smith in the Matrix series, the arrival of this series is as warmly welcomed as Neo coming home to Zion. This book arrives just in the nick of time.