With the growth in social media, it was inevitable that there would be a corresponding growth in social media books. With a strong Twitter following (over 141,000 and counting), Chris Brogan, New Media president and longtime blogger, would be a fitting author to weigh in with a social media advisory book of his own.
Co-founder of the PodCamp “unconference”and co-author of Trust Agents, Brogan has spoken, consulted and blogged on social media. He has condensed tips and tricks from his past experiences into a book called Social Media 101: Tactical Tips to Develop Your Business Online.
Hymnal-sized, Social Media 101 checks in at 313 pages thick. It is divided into 87 segments, each a few pages long and consisting of tips on subjects such as blogging, incorporating video, podcasting and developing an online social community.
A reminder of the human side of social media
Brogan offers many tips, including the following which I felt worked well:
- Blog Topics for Business-to-Business Customers — I liked the suggestion to look at Technorati to see how your company or industry is being mentioned, as well a tip to write about your customers.
- Five Starter Moves for Audio and Video — Very short but useful for those wanting an idea of how to supplement an online presence.
- The Power of Links — This segment contains a unique point of view on how links can be viewed by your customers and the implications.
- Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future — These tips are steps you may have taken already, but Brogan explains them in an universal way.
The book is best taken as a collection of personal tips that may or may not be relevant to how you use social media. Readers will find anecdotal information that will elicit a head nod and a “Yeah, I can use that.” I liked Brogan’s tip, “Don’t ever say quick question” (“It is almost always not.”) My thought when I read that was indeed, with a nod to myself, “Yeah, I can use that.”
Brogan conveys thoughtful tips regarding human behavior and social media. For example, a suggestion to write about your bad moments could easily complement other books like The Economics Of Integrity regarding transparency and authenticity as business assets. Brogan writes:
“This might be counterintuitive, but your business partners might occasionally appreciate knowing when something is going tough for you…but in the event of a public-facing product or service issue it’s probably best to get it out there rather than sit on it. “
He also muses on often-blogged topics such as social media experts and then repeats the theme in other segments. For example, Brogan explains how he adapts the concepts of expert and adviser from David Maister’s book Strategy and the Fat Smokers — that an expert is in control and is to be heeded above others, while an adviser offers opinions and seeks a give-and-take conversation. He later declares a segment “What I Want a Social Media Expert to Know” with tips along strategic and tactical lines. This also ties into an overall spirit of crowdsourcing for support:
“I learned a long time ago that the folks who spend time with me know more than me in the aggregate….so ask for it. Seek information. Learn from them.”
See how the content works for your needs
The book’s structure, with its blog-like segment titles and 313-page length, can sometimes present unclear topic arcs. Thus, while tips easily stand out from one another, a reader may lose the connecting arc of thought and flip repeatedly to find where the associated tips appeared. I would have liked to have seen the musing of the aforementioned expertise example and “What I Want a Social Media Expert to Know” segment closer together rather than appearing at opposite ends of the book. While the tips are great for readers who have no clue about social media, readers seeking step-by-step processes may consider noting the order of wanted tips to their tastes and needs. A note: Brogan admits at the book’s opening that certain ideas were meant to be repeated and sprinkled throughout the book. You can judge the flexibility of the arrangement for yourself.
I had also wished in some instances that a few subjects were treated in a longer format to capture more of the nuances of the suggestions. For example, Brogan recommends Google Analytics, alongside CrazyEgg, for blog measurement, but there is no mention of recent social media analytic tools, like PostRank and Mixpanel, that may give a deeper examination of blog-related metrics. A segment called “Programming for the Masses: Social Computing” references Nicholas Carr, Paul Graham and David Weinberger and how “we’re learning bits of programming for this new social computing every day.” Yet there is no coding example or any deeper elaboration beyond the observations. But those readers new to social media may be okay with the earnest comments on what Brogan is seeing online today.
Useful starting book for social media.
Admittedly, social media can be a mountain of a writing subject to conquer because of the frequently increasing features of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms that rapidly introduce new usage and strategy considerations (maybe too rapidly). Social Media 101 will not be a fail whale for those are new to social media. Readers seeking the next-level social media guide for establishing strategy ideas may want a little more elaborate demonstrations than those provided, but Social Media 101 can still be the quintessential quick guide that reminds one on what social media is all about.