Saturday, March 15, 2008

A social media experiment

OK. So pick your excuse. I'm either ...

a) reasonably busy
b) working my way through a big stack of books
c) the slowest reader known to man

Either way, it has taken me too long to get to my promise of reading this book. My mistake, as if you have even a vague interest in how to ensure your brand is a success in the future then I recommend you give this a read.

I found Joseph's writing style to go on a bit and the humour often seems incongruent, but get past that and it is a light, easy read about the power of conversation. Peppered with anecdotes, graphs and other traditional 'I've got a really good paper, but let's turn it into a book' stuff, the fundamental point about the change in the landscape brands now play on and the need to re-think how we engage people is well made and an important contribution to modern marketing.

So what did I learn from the read? Well, this is a book about change, evolution, adaptation and experimentation.

- It reminded me of how we all change our mentality when we cross the threshold of our places of work. We have conversation outside the building - inside, we push out endless reams of (often) meaningless communication.

- That to partake in a conversation, you have to have something interesting to contribute - a challenge for many. How many brands in the world could hold an interesting conversation at a BBQ? And it's not about just opening your mouth, you have to have something to say.

- That many brands do not understand the notion of audience - otherwise the aggressive or de-humanising stance that some advertisers take would be less prevalent. Remember guys, we're all audience to something, we all talk.

- That whatever we do, brands are increasingly bouncing in the market (spoofing, generating echoes) - or they should be looking to do so. Joseph talks of the 'movement of parts of the conversation that alter and shift every time they hit the dirt'. (Although I felt the notion of a Chief Conversation Officer as a new role slightly sinister for some reason).

- The importance of listening in conversation. Something we've been doing bunch of work on in the office.

There are also some useful and very funny stories of brands slapping their customer's for using them. I'm sure they won't bring the organisations down, but they provide useful learning for others.

The conversation carries on in a number of places. First off there is the site that accompanies the book, there is Joseph's excellent blog (and his podcasts are also worth a listen) which Morgan is an advocate of, and you can also join the Facebook group.

And if you happen to be in close geographic proximity to me, I'd be happy to lend you my (slightly dog-eared) copy, but you can also get your own from

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