Search Amazon for books about social media and the site offers up more than 140,000 choices. I haven't read them all, but I'd wager that most focus on social from a marketer's perspective: how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, influencer engagement and all sorts of social goodness to reach consumers and sell them stuff. Soooo along come my friends Jay Baer and Amber Naslund, throwing their words in the ring with their new book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social (disclosure: Jay and Amber's publisher - Wiley - provided me with a free review copy).
The basic premise? Consumers are more connected than ever, are always on, and demand more from the companies they bless with their business and bucks. Now those companies had better get in gear and change the way they operate. The book has plenty of brass-tacks tips for setting up a listening and response program, dealing with crises and measuring impact. But the real difference between this book and I'd wager most of the other 140,000 is that it isn't really about "doing" social - it's about "being" social.
The best parts of this book aim to convince you (yes you) why you need to lead the charge in making your companies more social at its very core. Jay and Amber advise companies to begin not with showy social marketing tactics but with wholesale cultural and organizational shift (a tall order, but the right starting point for businesses that see social as a driver for something greater than itsy bitsy incremental improvements), and offer practical tips for how to hire the right types of people, models for organizing for success and empowering employees to be part of the shift, and garner the right kinds of support.
Recently, I chit chatted (over email) with Jay and Amber about The NOW Revolution. Read on to learn more about the book and why you may want to read it.
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Q: As a blogger turned author, I'm always interested in why other bloggers went traditional... So let's start with: why this book? Why now?
Jay: As social practitioners, we hear so often questions about tools and tactics, when in reality social success is more about culture and sociology. There are so many books about how to "do" social media - and some of them are great. We figured it was time to write a book about how to "be" social as a company.
Q: One of the key premises in the book is that revolution comes from witihin - that to truly realize the potential inherent in realtime and social, an organization needs to start by building a culture around those principles. I believe you're 100% right but I also hear the voices of countless client-side worker bees crying that they CAN'T affect this kind of change, they really just need a Facebook tab right now. Why is the first step so difficult and what are your top tricks for getting over the hump?
Amber: The truth is that *anyone* can affect change if they're willing to stick their neck out a bit to do it. There's no question that culture shift can be difficult, and slow-going, especially if the business is established in processes and protocols that have been developed over years and years. The trick is that culture change has to be wanted - at every level - and not just endorsed from the top, but believed in at the top as well. Organizations need more than buy-in, they need intent to actually act on and engineer change, and they need volunteers to do the nitty gritty work. Sometimes that means having some difficult conversations in meetings and on the phone about fundamental value disconnects. Those are the things we can't attach to our P&L directly, so we hesitate to spend time on them. But the power of a simple set of conversations around shared values and company purpose - aside from any operational strategies - can be a good jumping off point to translate beliefs into purposeful plans.
Q: In the book, you're essentially talking about what Dachis Group calls social business design - the intentional creation of culture, organization, systems and filters that allow your company to be more social in both how it connects its workforce and engages its outside constituents (consumers, business partners, supply chain, etc). Do you believe that all businesses will need to become social businesses? And why?
Jay: Exactly... Indeed, all businesses will need to become social eventually - customers will simply demand it. It's not too different from customers demanding businesses have a phone, or a website, or an email address. But, the one big difference now is that every customer is a reporter, and every employee is a potential marketer. Social business is an imperative - eventually - for all. But there hasn't been much of a playbook for getting there, so we wrote one.
Q: The NOW Revolution is packed with case studies - including stories about big companies who are making the shifts. Among these companies, which one would you say is furthest along the path and why?
Amber: If I have to pick one company that really embody the principles we lay out in the book, I'm going to go with ThinkGeek. They're not a "big" company so to speak, but they've got the culture and hiring thing down, which I think is so very fundamental, plus they're actively out there listening and engaging with their community, and building and growing their business to bake that stuff right in. I'm also super excited about what larger companies like H&R Block and Autodesk have done to organize cross functional teams to steward company-wide social strategy; that's really how you get started treating social as more than just a marketing channel, and it's quite an accomplishment to rethink your organizational design and progressively keep up with the shifts brought about by real-time business.
Q: You use Microsoft Tag throughout the book to link readers to enhanced content and additional material. How have readers reacted to the blend of traditional and mobile/digital?
Jay: Of all the pieces in the book, the use of Microsoft Tag has probably gotten the most chatter. To some degree, that's intentional. Very few books have incorporated Tag (or its cousin, QR codes) as comprehensively as we have. There are 22 Tags in the book, each unlocking videos, PDFs, lists, downloadable infographics and other stuff that extends the book's impact. Truthfully, some people absolutely love the idea. Some people think it's a bridge too far and wish we just put URLs in the text. Other people love the notion, but prefer QR over Tag. The good news is that people are talking about it, and thinking about how meta content of this type can be utilized in their own companies. If Tag starts to take off (and USA Today just incorporated it in the printed paper), we'll be happy to take credit. ;)
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Sound like your cup of tea? Visit the NOW Revolution site to learn more and download a free chapter, visit your favorite bookseller to buy a copy now, or if you'd like a shot at winning a freebie drop a comment on this post. Monday morning, I'll pick one random commenter and mail off my own copy to you.
Image Credit: ReachCast Blog