Ya know what? I don't do enough book reviews with this blog. I don't know why I don't. I can read. I swear I can. I can write. I write books. I love books. I think ebooks are okay but the thought of falling asleep with a laptop on my chest doesn't appeal to me much. My metaphors are clear as are my nasal passages and the neurons, synapses and segments of my brain which give me my cognitive capabilities, as limited as they might be.
So I have no excuse to not review books and I'm going to start today with one written by someone I highly respect, Paul Gillin and his "The New Influencers: A Marketers Guide to the New Social Media." This is something I should have done awhile back.
The good news is that the book is going into its second printing already and its only been out a few months. Shows what a great writer Paul is and what an important place this fills in the pantheon of marketing books.
Let's start by me making a blanket statement.
This is a terrific business book - not just a marketing book. Paul is both ahead of the pack and on the money (almost literally) in his intro:
"What's captivated me about social media is the extent to which new centers of influence have emerged in communities that have no rules, no governing structures, no standards and no hierarchies....Common sense says that a medium with so little structure should degenerate into chaos. But remarkably, exactly the opposite is happening. Complex patterns of governance are already emerging, driven by a set of shared values that are codified but just understood.....Powerful voices are emerging: people and groups who have the capacity to move markets and challenge institutions.....As each new voice is added, the community gets stronger."
This lesson shouldn't and can't be lost on either marketers or CRM professionals. The complexity of CRM 1.0 is being superseded but not eliminated by CRM 2.0 which is being driven by the social media and the democratization of voice that has been enhanced by the easy availability of both new tools and new channels for peer-to-peer and customer-to-company communications. It is powerful and while under attack from doubters and skeptics, pretty much unassailable at this point.
What Paul does just so damned well is make it clear what those channels are, how they influence, who they influence and who drives and/or participates in the channel. He takes a coherent and comprehensive look into not just what blogs, podcasts, social networks et al. are all about (especially the prior two) but also who the leaders are, what the standards and behaviors and value systems that are emerging as their the social media increases its impact and complexity, how the influence works and what marketers can do - including an all too brief look at the actual tools - to make this a part of their portfolio.
One thing he cautions marketers (or marketeers - or mouseketeers?) and PR people about though is that blogging and podcasting are tools in an arsenal that provide some exciting possibilities for those selfsame marketers and PR folks. But they are TOOLS, not substitutes for high caliber creativity and thinking.
He also has a few predictions that I think I'm going to reproduce right here with my comments on them right after so you can hold him to them (but not me to mine):
- The trend is unstoppable. "All the demographics are lined up to support that assumption." (While I think demographics can be lined up to support almost any assumption, I agree with Paul here)
- Media institutions will matter less and less. "With the cost of entry so low, the need for institutions has diminished." (I'm not 100% in agreement here. I think that there will be new institutions that will be substantial, not just a few either. We're seeing that trend now with the dominance of the Facebooks beginning to take hold and the power of TechCrunch for being the market maker that Paul talks about earlier)
- Very few traditional media will make the shift. "They are addicted to a business model that is increasingly irrelevant and they don't have the time or investor latitude to make the shift." (I agree for the most part, but I think a significant amount of the traditional media - the more recent variety like CNN or Gannett will be flexible enough in the long run - not the short - to make the transition. So will the NY Times... But on the whole, he's right.
This book is a must go get and read right now if you know what's good for you and your marketing (or CRM) career. Paul is not just a really smart dude and excellent writer, but he is an accomplished guy who was the chieftain of SearchCRM before he went to different climes and became both an independent consultant and the lead (or at least best) columnist for BtoB Magazine. He doesn't make mistakes so I think you need to read this (actually, now that I think of it, he did once make a mistake. He introduced me when he was emceeing a SearchCRM conference that I was speaking at - for free, if you can believe that - as "a pioneer in CRM." But otherwise, he hardly ever is wrong).
This is a FIVE STAR BOOK or 10/10 or whatever. I don't have a rating system. This book is a great experience. How about THAT as a review rating?
Just go get it.