Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan is a collection of posts related to “social media” that he wrote for his blog. So, just as any anthology, you can read this book pretty much in any order you want by picking one of the 87 topics that are listed in the table of contents.
With a title that contains “101,” you might think that the purpose is to provide basic, introductory information to social media. If this is what you are looking for, you may want to read Social Media Marketing for Dummies, a very insightful book by Shiv Singh published in October 2009. Here, the expression “101” is used in a broader sense, referring more to what you may want to do or think about as you experience what it means to live in a social media world. For example, Chris Brogan gives you 50 blog topics that you may want to pick from if you are a marketer writing for your company. Or, if you are an artist-entrepreneur, a favorite topic of mine, read Brogan’s excellent three pages about how pianist Grace Nikae leverages social media to build up, and connect to, her audience. As a general rule, the book primarily addresses intermediate users, who have a smattering of knowledge about social media, but want to assess where they are at, and get an overall perspective of the landscape before they move further. The most efficient posts in this book focus on what I would call “traditional” social media, i.e. what was around when Chris Shipley created the expression in 2004 – blogs. I would also tend to agree that blogs are, in many respects, the 101 of Social Media, its foundational component.
Because it is a collection of posts, the book is not designed around any specific thesis, and instead, recounts the experiences of an author who states his opinions, casually, always avoiding controversy. Any debate is left to the readers to handle: “I ask you: “Who benefits from Facebook’s Social Graph data?” Brogan writes. In the same fashion, “customer service needs new channels… or does it?” In the end, most personal stands are tempered down quite oecumenically, which dissociates “personal branding” from any personal profession of faith. Yes, “social media” is, first and foremost, a social game (very nice section on Social Networks as Your Local Pubs), for which you want to develop effective “tactics and tips to develop your business online,” as the subtitle says. So why would you alienate existing or potential customers?
One of my favorite sentences in Trust Agents (which I discussed in an earlier post) was related to a quote from David Maister: ‘‘A book is like a big, thick, impressive $25 business card,’’ that the authors (Chris Brogran had a co-author, Julien Smith) see as “old word credibility. We know that blogging and new media, while useful to us and to all the people we are in business with, just isn’t as creadible to the gatekeepers at the top of the hill.” In this book, I like this sentence: “For every 10 pundits, we should have an original thinker.”
This is a book that you will enjoy reading – much like you may enjoy Chris Brogan’s blog. There are a lot of useful references to all sorts of interesting blogs and people. Missing perhaps: a bibliography at the end of the book.
Lovely cover with a fifties touch (CSA Plastock/Getty Images). Social Media is a one-to-one connection to people, just as the old telephone, except that sounds can be indefinitely replicated. So don’t shout (lest you want to manage saturation). Smile.