Several months ago I wrote a post about a new social media text that was written by three individuals with what appeared to be very little experience with social media. For me the question was whether or not anyone should offer expert advice about social media without first being immersed in the medium. (The subtitle of the book is “Everything you need to know to get social media working in your business.”) I received a wide range of opinions and comments on the matter. Well, I immediately ordered The Social Media Management Handbook from Amazon and read it.
My assessment is that the book is an excellent resource with an unfortunate subtitle. It over promises. The book certainly doesn’t tell the reader everything they need to know to effectively launch a social media program on behalf of their business. In fact, a lot of the nuts and bolts are missing. But there is a lot of great information that will help them get started and it will be up to the reader to fill in the cracks. In fact, in the book’s introduction the authors make the point that “this book is just the start.” I agree. People interested in starting a social media program on behalf of their business need to get engaged with social networks to better understand their nuances and potential benefits. They also should access online resources, like the one offered up by the authors of the text: http://www.socialmediamanagementhandbook.accenture.com.
Some of my favorite chapters were those contributed by Chris Boudreaux – a guy who definitely knows his way around social media. Chris’ chapter on social media policy is a really important contribution and will save most organizations a lot of heart ache. Back in October 2009 I wrote a blog post drawing attention to Chris’ social media database which at the time contained the policies of more than 80 organizations. Chris compiled this database while working on a book titled “Social Media Governance: Empowerment with Accountability.”
I also enjoyed the chapter by Chris Zinner and Catherine Zhou titled “Social Media and the Voice of the Customer.” The authors point out what I consider to be one of the greatest shortcomings of many social media programs: Failing to use these wonderful tools to LISTEN to the voice of the consumer. Too many people are simply using social media just to push content. With social media we have an unprecedented opportunity to understand consumer behavior while tapping into online conversations. Of course listening becomes that much more important when an organization can learn from the feedback and take appropriate action. It is also critical to discern when action is required.
Robert Wollan’s chapter on “Selling Social Media within the Organzation” will undoubtedly come in handy for those individuals trying to drag the c-suite into the age of social media. As many of us have experienced, there’s a lot of fear among leadership when it comes to using social media. Robert’s advice should help marketers and communicators overcome those objections.
One of the most important points the authors make comes very early on in the text in a chapter by Nick Smith and Robert Wollan (Chapter 1, p.7). The authors make the point that “social media will prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the one-size-fits-all customer experience model.” Not only do I agree, but I believe this is a point that many marketers have yet to come to terms with. As Smith and Wollan suggest, “with the help of social media, the customer base continues to fragment into ever-more granule segments, each with highly specialized interests and needs.”
All that being said, don’t expect this text to be a do-it-yourself manual for launching a social media program. For the organization that has been experimenting with social media, this text might just be the perfect tool for helping you figure out where you’ve gone wrong and where to go next. It could also help you to overcome some major hurdles that others have experienced along the way. Importantly, the Social Media Management Handbook will help the reader to strategically ground his or her social media program. However, much of the tactical, how-to information is not here – and I think that’s appropriate.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer