Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I must be one of the few people engaged in the social media and Internet marketing space who hasn’t read Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan ) and Julien Smith’s (@Julien ) first New York Times best seller, Trust Agents. It was a Reader’s Choice for the Small Business Trends 2009 Business Book Awards , but I just didn’t get to it at the time.
That’s why I was very happy to receive a review copy of their newest book The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? 
In the introduction to the book (and in several of their online interviews) Brogan and Smith say they never wanted to write a sequel to Trust Agents, but it seems like that’s what their audience wanted.
So, if you’re one of those people who read and loved Trust Agents or who were left with a little something missing after reading Trust Agents – you will want to pick up a copy of The Impact Equation.
The Impact Equation Focuses You On What Matters Most
I’d say that this is really a book about how to effectively communicate in today’s world. Now that you have several solid years of social media under your belt, what would you say is missing for you? You might struggle with this question because you’re overwhelmed by the mountains of online media channels and the myriad ways of how to use them effectively.
Brogan and Smith did this work for you and decided that what was missing was – IMPACT. And to tie their concept together, they created the following equation that serves as the platform for the book:
Impact = Contrast x (Reach+Exposure+Articulation+Trust+Echo) or
Impact = C x (R+E+A+T+E) — If you’re like me and didn’t catch the cool acronym it’s Impact = Create.
The authors are adamant that this book is NOT about social media – while being about communicating using social media. It’s a tough distinction to get across and I have to admit, I was a bit confused at first. I think the analogy that cleared it up was this one:
“Saying that this book is about social media is like saying that Moby Dick is a book about boats.”
Ok – I think I get it now.
The Impact Equation is about CONTEXT and not about CONTENT. What they are trying desperately to get across is that you should be approaching your online communications from the context of making an impact – a difference in the world.
The social media tools that they talk about throughout the book are really nothing more than vehicles to help you achieve your goal of making an impact instead of just noise.
How To Get The Most From The Impact Equation
As I mentioned before, I had a bit of a challenge “getting into” the book. I started reading and felt somewhat overwhelmed by the content. I just didn’t get where they were going with this at first. That’s when I turned to the table of contents and spent a little bit of time just digesting it. I’d recommend you do the same.
You’ll notice that the book is divided into four parts:
Brogan and Smith then broke up the Impact Equation into each of those parts:
The Goals section contains the introduction of working with the Impact Equation. This is where they introduce the concept and explain each element.
In the Ideas section, they discuss Contrast and Articulation. In other words, Contrast and Articulation are what you have to do with your ideas. In order to accomplish this – you need a clear idea; one that can be contrasted and articulated via a variety of channels.
My favorite section in the book was the one about Platforms. In this section, they discuss Reach and Exposure. It’s my experience that people really struggle with platforms. And if you find yourself wondering which platform will help you achieve your goals, you’ll want to read this section more than once.
Finally, they get into your Network. Inside this section, the authors get into what it takes to build on the Trust component and the Echo component of the Impact Equation. As much as they try to avoid getting into the details of social media tasks, you will find them there and I think that these examples and their advice only add to the relevance of the book.
How To Tell If Impact Equation Should Be On Your Reading List
First of all, if you’re a Chris Brogan and Julien Smith fan, you’ll want to read this book. It will give you all the things you love about them and then some.
If you are an online publisher, blogger or small business that has social media and internet marketing as a core strategy, reading The Impact Equation will help you to tighten up your message and your communication style online.
Just as an example: I visited Chris Brogan’s Facebook page and my Facebook page (the personal ones) and I can definitely see the difference. Chris’ Facebook page not only features his personality and personal life, but seamlessly integrates his professional brand as well.
One task I’m taking on is to make my Facebook page posts more intentional, deliberate and purposeful as I move forward. As you read through the book, you’ll find yourself doing much of the same thing; reading, checking online, comparing and creating some new strategies for yourself.
Small business owners who are still a bit confused or overwhelmed by the entire online and social media marketing space will benefit from reading The Impact Equation. My only advice would be to not read a few pages and throw it down in disgust because you’re not getting it right away. Give yourself time and space to process the information. Put it down for a day or two and pick it up again. I promise you will see the content differently.
Overall, The Impact Equation is slated to be one of those books you have to read if you’re in the social media space. Ignore it, and you’ll likely feel left out the next time you’re chatting Internet trends and social media.