Practice what you preach

When I attended Graduate school at USC I started to go through the steps of having my thesis published, mostly because I thought it would bring me fame, fortune, and a great job. (Clearly I had no concept of how many people actually read a thesis. For those of you in Graduate school, it’s about as many people as you have fingers on your hands. Advisor, parent(s), significant other, editor, and maybe a roommate). 

Midway through the submission process I stopped because I realized I was losing my mind, and publishing my thesis on paper didn’t really embrace what I had written. My thesis was on User-Generated Content and Viral Media, and it’s Impact on Broadcast and Marketing. I was committed to the fact that the topic was changing, so the medium should be changing. (In retrospect, that’s oh so McLuhan of me).

So, instead of publishing my thesis to a scholarly journal, I posted it to a Wiki page, with the hopes of going back and editing the page as the industry changed. For a brief period of time I did– I made minor changes, treating my thesis like a living document. I also learned that theses are not particularly suited for the internet, and I should have taken McLuhan’s message a step further. I should have posted a summary, but that’s beside the point.

SocialCorpI suppose it’s this series of events that has prompted me to write this post, regarding a SocialCorp’s recent announcement that their book, “Social Media Goes Corporate” is now available on Amazon’s Kindle.  (Preview it on Amazon now) Sure, it’s now available in several formats, including ebook, PDF, paper, and on Kindle, but aren’t they missing one major area: Social Media?

Shouldn’t SocialCorp have practiced what they preached and implemented bits of social media into their marketing and PR tactics? Created an online community for their book, aggregating the reviews, inviting adopters to come in and provide testimonials? 

A quick Google Search shows that there are already plenty of people talking about their brand and their product. Why, if they’re the experts in the field, are they not embracing this and channeling it all into one giant social resource? 

For me, the biggest testament of whether or not someone is legitimate is whether or not they practice what they preach. You’re almost there– just take it that next step to show us what you know, instead of just telling us.


UPDATE: After reading Joel’s comment (below) and responding, it’s come to my attention that my post isn’t 100% clear. My qualm isn’t with the content of Joel’s book– in fact, I think Joels’ book does a great job of tackling Social Media in a Corporate setting. Instead, my concern was over the way in which the feedback was aggregated. At no point did I doubt that Joel and his team did the necessary research, worked with the tools, or “got their hands dirty” in Social Media. I’m a firm believer that they get it. Instead, my concern was with, as I said, channeling it all into one giant social resource and creating a hub that is the “go-to” for all things SocialCorp. 

Here, they could bring in all of the personal reviews, professional reviews, testimonials, and even create a private section for people who actually bought the book to discuss their own implementation and practices. This would also provide a great springboard for Joel for his next book as his future case studies could be, and would be, taking place right in front of him. 

So my apologies to Joel and his team– by no means am I doubting your research or methodology. Instead, I was just hoping to see you transform your book into more of a living, breathing document: a community. 

Joel’s blog, and twitter


2 comments so far

  1. joel on

    Thanks for your thought provoking post. I agree 100% that a social media book should be written using social media, and we did so extensively with SocialCorp.

    Our research, case studies and project management were done with PBwiki, an awesome hosted wiki. I was on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as often as 14 hours a day asking thousands of corporate communicators, social media practitioners, and PR professionals for their thoughts on every topic in the book, including measurement, ethics, training, and social media law.

    We used Twitter, a dedicated Social-Corp blog, and my blog to solicit new case studies from the community, since we didn’t want to simply regurgitate existing stories already available on the web. (Sorry, but we had to talk about Dell. Every social media book is required by law to talk about Dell.) In addition to asking questions about the issues facing social media professionals in a corporate environment, we even asked people to vote on the book’s cover design, which greatly influenced the final cover.
    When I say “we,” I do so because I had a team of interns helping with the book. They were recruited on Twitter and used Twitter, their personal blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks, email and even quaint old devices like telephones to obtain some pretty good case studies on Electronic Arts, the Red Cross and a number of others. There were other people also “recruited” through social networking or who simply volunteered who helped with the book through Twitter and elsewhere. Some of these folks are mentioned in the book’s acknowledgments, in a few cases, with their @Twitter handle.

    So much of the book came from interactions in social media. The SocialCorp Social Media Readiness Quiz, for example, was developed form a number of sources. We conducted a chat on Twitter asking people what they thought were the factors that made a company a good candidate for social media. In addition to getting a number of great suggestions during this chat, Todd Hoskins of Networked Insights, pointed me to his company’s Readiness Assessment Tool and allowed me to include a couple of questions in the SocialCorp quiz.

    I also attended dozens of social media and Web 2.0 conferences where I spoke in person with other experts like Brian Solis, Robert Scoble, Giovanni Rodriguez, Chris Heuer, Tom Foremski and others. Not all social media leadership happens online.

    The development of this book happened live, and deep in the social media space. Chapters of the book were posted to Safari Online’s Rough Cuts program where early reviewers could read and comment online about these first drafts. You’ll find much of the book in posts on my blog, Socialized, and in my Talent Zoo column. Often, I would update a post on my blog based on comments from visitors and use that as the basis for a chapter or a sidebar in the book. You couldn’t ask for a more community-based approach to writing a social media book.
    The wiki was private, since it contained personal contact info for all staff members. The Social-Corp blog was public, but has now been “closed” because I don’t have the resources to maintain it. I continue to blog on my personal blog, Socialized, and often field questions from people who have read the book and want more information. Just last night I sent some information on Twitter as a business tool to someone who asked for it on Twitter. I have a couple of new questions that just showed up on my blog that I need to respond to. In this way the book is a living thing, because I respond to inquiries, expand on the information in the book, and in the process, I continue to learn, which is marvelous.

    I applaud your decision to post your thesis on a wiki, but my agreement with the publisher did not allow me to give away the content of the book. The book was written with the intent of selling it. We exposed as much of the content as possible during the development of the book, including sending entire chapters to experts for review, publishing the SocialCorp Readiness Quiz, and encouraging people to download and share it, and in some cases having experts write portions of the book, such as K.D. Paine who did a marvelous job on social media measurement.

  2. Melissa Daniels on

    Hi Joel,

    Thanks so much for your thorough comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to outline your process and provide additional insight into the nuts and bolts of it all.

    I suppose my post was a little unclear– I understand your point about not being able to give away content– but it seems as though there would be a great potential available to you if you created a private community/discussion forum for paid purchasers (buy the book, get a login code) to discuss their own implementation strategies.

    A free section would be available to discuss topline aspects of the book, including publisher reviews, and general feedback (sort of like what you’d see on Amazon, etc.)– would also be a great way to network your users and to truly embrace the social media aspect of it all, as you would be putting other practitioners in connection with other readers, reviewers and “drinkers of your kool-aid.”

    My apologies if the post came off curt or if it seemed tough– I don’t doubt your practices or your content and am certain you and your team did your due diligence on your research (yes, everyone has to mention Dell and sometimes Starbucks) and I’m not questioning the content in any way. Instead, I was hoping you’d take the discussion about that content one step further. 🙂

    However, after reading that you’re following up and keeping it alive (which I’m a firm believer in) by soliciting feedback on your blog and through Twitter, I’m happy to see that you’re already doing this. I’d just love to see this sort of conversation in an easier to digest/track/follow format that also aggregates professional feedback as well. (And, is easy to find! 🙂 )

    Best of luck!

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