Posts Tagged ‘authors’

Oh, grow up!

My, how you've grown this year!

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In many ways, the holistic e-trinity of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is starting to gel with users of each and share resources. App makers are paying more attention to joining all of the myriad of social tools available into a more seamless social web terrain…and it’s working. Social tools are starting to overshadow the big boys of the internet that we all thought were untouchable. The numbers on Facebook’s overtaking of Google in terms of raw daily visits are staggering! Facebook was not that long ago still too much of a MySpace to be taken seriously by Fortune 500 companies, much less thinking people.Now it’s vying for top social media tool in the minds of many–myself included. 

How did this happen? My take is the untoward publicity on Facebook’s privacy issues may have actually sparked more debate and discussion and thinking about the private vs. the public by setting the stage with a starter discussion on setting permissions. Meanwhile, Facebook was busy integrating with other apps that allow interaction of accounts with popular social networking tools. Certainly there have been an onslaught of new innovative apps that sew together user experience across platforms that formerly saw each other in more competitive terms. This cooperative spirit has led to more cross-platform communicators demonstrating new potential just on the fringe of what is currently materialized. People are, in short, doing real Web 2.0 on a more grand scale. Companies are becoming more adaptive to “black swans“, the events that shake up and sometimes make or break a company or group. Things are, in short, speeding up, evolving. 

I think we also have to credit the recently emerged FourSquare and Google Buzz to some extent, for simply stirring the pot in significant, game-changing ways. We also can’t forget the iPhone, which has really pulled together the idea of bringing the social web to life as a compact do-it-all personal accessory. Not the just ability to pull it together, but the branding savvy and ability to get adoption on a mass-scale has forced other phone makers to predictably follow suit. Oddly enough, only Apple has actually topped the iPhone, but making a tablet that will probably exceed all other tablets before it. 

The social web consists of overlapping conversations within an inherently open-ended forum, not "marketing messages" and not exclusively "chat messages" like previously. As everyone seeks a role an expanding conversation with rapidly expanding participation from outside itself, the conversation takes on a different, more "not final" aspect. And social media marketing players will in the future likewise consist increasingly of niche partners providing value to the public (and private) domain of the social, not "competitors" grasping for "limited" market share.

 

In reality, however, I think each new player, each new alternative is becoming a niche provider of unique opportunities in contradistinction to the others that can’t grow without the others. Sort of like covering angles and omitting investiture into already-branded areas. The market has always had this principle at work, of course, but now the innovation curve is speeding up fast enough to make the principles of branding your niche much more of an inescapable realization. 

As things begin to cook, I wonder how personalities will play out in this more integrated social web that sees not so much competitors, but instead of emerging cooperating niche  partners? For now it seems that there are a lot of talking heads but the leadership structures are still forming and changing around, with few visible mega-movements actually affecting the culture at large. There have been a lot of emerging movements-to-be being kicked around. The Linchpin Way is one tiny but serious example of such a little movement trying to take make a big difference. In the end, I think they are a step along the way to what I called in a previous post, a sense of appreciation and awe at the idea and goal of community-at-large: the desire to serve an open-ended sense of community, rather than one particular enclave (for example, “me and my friends/company/partners/family”, etc.). It’s simply the idea that since the market is actually becoming global even at the local level, that it should think in a way that recognizes itself as a single interconnected all-tribe, made up of legions of smaller tribes. 

Books by Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuk (can you believe Brogan doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page yet?) have sparked discussion and inspired groups and projects, and of course, entire movements within marketing and social media as a region of thought. While such movements may be in many cases still in their infancy, this is an interesting development for me, because I can for the first time see people sacrificing more than just the time to blog for 5 minutes about something that popped up on Twitter. If people actually start changing their schedules, they start to refocus and change their lives, and then they may be more open to some of the more open-ended movements like The Linchpin Way, or say, even community-at-large (a phrase which I think actually does have a uniquely functioning meaning beyond reducing it to “good marketing” or “widening market-reach” or even “spirituality” or whatever). 

Whatever turns it takes, I think that the unstoppable Hegelian dialectic of social and cultural movements inevitably requires us to grow up along with the tools we us in the social web as it has in areas like nuclear war/energy, the environment, and the prospect of unending nation-building in unstable parts of the world. Social media will require that we grow up a little socially (not just technologically) by making us bump up against one another, via and outside of our own tribes, even despite our own tribes. Perhaps the term ought to be “social technology”, since it refocuses us on the nature of how technologies shape the world, us and the very notion of the social, instead of faintly promoting the lingering delusion of a “fair and balanced” or democratic media with no shaping function. 

However you look at it, we’re now able to literally rub shoulders with virtually anyone with a smart phone with wireless capability, including actual heads of state (in some limited cases) and thought-leaders from every sector and part of the world. Perhaps the mind-blowing reality of the” social” in social media will be when homeless start becoming power-users via libraries and cheap cellphones with universal wireless connections. What would you say/tweet to a homeless person? Would it be the type of thing you’d tweet to others? How would the whole “living large” mindset of the upwardly mobile play out as the internet opens up to the far reaches of the rural areas of the so-called “third world”? How do modernized people look to those outside that parameter? And finally, would your social media movement shrivel a bit at the prospect of a truly universal world-wide web? If not, could it grow to meet the challenge? 

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[tweetmeme source=”MarkBrimm”] If you already know everything there is to know about social media, then please move along.

…Still here? Great! Me, too!

While I don’t claim to be a foremost authority on social media (or much of anything else, I’ve decided in later life), I’ve learned a  thing or two while learning that fact: pay attention, watch, read, learn. This small list is not a “new books” list by any means, it’s a “you should have already probably read these” list for people newer to social media or who, like me, may not feel comfortable in casting aside the classic standards of the social media resource genre just because their time is valuable. Some of these authors do not entirely agree, which sis actually valuable in that you get some not-quite in-sinc takes on some social networking issues.

If you’re anything like me, you consider a good read on worthwhile subject matter from a durable voice a worthwhile use of your time. And for the record, these links on the titles below are referral links. If you click them and buy the books, I’ll get a tiny little commission to legitimate investing more time in this blog while I pursue less profitable posts, and which I think is pretty fair, and not only gets a great author a new sale and reader, but provides the visitor with a valuable new proven resource to study and refer to (hard copy, no less, which can be great for impromptu inspired notes as we all love to make). That said, hope you find this little list useful. And now (in case you’re still reading this blur at the top of the screen) the drumroll please…

1. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The low down :

Twitter and Facebook are shaped as much by a noteworthy book as they are by its readers, admirers and practitioners of any insights they hold. And this one has lots of insight, as well as kudos from the social media community. Brogan and New Labs Marketing continue to be a driving force in demonstrating community and the principle of “trust” for social media marketing and networking. There is a good reason this book is first. Where it may not be a how-to in some respects, it is an absolute eye-opener about what the authors and a few others have long ago realized about the importance and nature of trust and transparency in social networking and social media marketing. For this reason, I would seriously recommend starting here, only because it’s the most insightful reading of key issues in social media and social networking at large.

2. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Here’s why :

Seth Godin is a prolific writer of books on what could be called “social media theory” and while I don’t own (and haven’t read) most of his other books, this one inspired the world to get on social networks and use them for things they really care about. If you want to understand the “twibes” phenomenon, or the possibilities of social media, you should start here.

3. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman

Why I picked this:

As some have pointed out, the book is short of documentation, and long on examples (remember “Dancing Matt” on YouTube?), but it is intended to show corporate decision-makers why social media is important to their brands today, and that it does brilliantly. While not a handbook on “how-to” for what it sets out to do, it certainly succeeds. It is a starter course, along with the previous two books on our list here, on why your company should consider going social with a brand.

4. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) By Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott

My reasons:

Low-budget marketing forces one to become smarter than the big guys. This is the unlikely advantage of having little or no venture capital in the hands of a survivor. Inbound Marketing shows how to apply the older branding principles of Al Ries and company to new levels in the age of social networking where PR can be a matter of viral phenomenon hits and misses.

5. Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion By Gary Vaynerchuk

A powerful book:

Gary Vaynerchuk is a marketing coach on steroids, with energy and drive that most us will never quite have. That’s his drive, to find a better way, to see deep into what the problem is quickly and put a solution into the fray. As Gary cogently explains, advertising dollars are what’s ultimately at stake for a blogger with a keen eye or a topic expert with a visionary outlook. And best of all, Gary practically tells you how to do it by giving you sample strategies that can inspire you to find your own model. Not to be missed.

6. Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

By John Jantsch

A book full of tested insights:

John Jantsch has been doing and thinking about guerrilla marketing for a long time now. He’s all about low-budget marketing tactics that actually are proven and work. So this book is somewhat of a toolbox of such tried and true strategies for those who may have missed the dialogue in recent years. Consider Jantsch the knowledgeable uncle in marketing you could have seriously learned a thing or two from when you first started out. If you’re like many of us, you find that he has a few tricks up his sleeve that are always well-worth the purchase price. Also, it’s a great way to see how guerrilla marketing has evolved before and since this book, and a great way to see the value in defiant marketing voices who speak their mind (agreeing with them is not really the point, right?). After all, this is how social media was basically born, out of the grit of tenacious guerrilla marketers fighting expensive tanks with grenades and banana peels–and actually winning market share. [tweetmeme source=”MarkBrimm”]

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You may be wondering how to reach the best audience  if you have a downloadable ebook for sale. Gone are the days of a wide-open eReader market. With the older standby PDFs still a viable format, and more recently the iPad, and of course the market-share-king, Kindle for PC and iPhone (as well as the more expensive Kindle), the competition is fierce. So which ebook format is the one you should invest your limited time and budget on as an author and publisher?  

Let’s look at some of the newest first:  

iPad gets kudos for flash and style, but plugging back in for a download of purchases pales next to Kindle’s free worldwide satellite-powered Whispernet service. Sure the iPad may be more of a personal accessory like the iPhone and the iPod before that, but for now it seems less likely to get critical acclaim from readers and current Kindle users. Perhaps its more salient selling point is going to be in terms of style. Who knows, this gadget may evolve into the excuse that makes reading actually cool again with those who previously only played video games and read micro-works via blogs and rapid-fire Tweets. But how soon will the iPad had significant market share or overcome the negative press coverage it has rather unexpectedly garnered?  

The uber-sleek iPad, from Apple

 

Mobipocket(.com) is another less known ebook vendor and format out there. Partnered early on with Amazon (it is actually an Amazon company), you’d think they would have had more sizzle, but the site just never really took off in terms of branding and polished image. Mobipocket works on just about any smartphone or PDA in existence, but as just noted, their marketing is less than forceful. Consequently, your book may not sell on that format for quite a long time if you start “small”. It’s better to go straight for a bigger outlet like Amazon that has already long been engaged with smaller authors and publishers.  

ClickBank(.com) is another such outlet with small overall reach and a somewhat poorly managed affiliate program with too little visibility and energy to effectively create meaningful sales. After selling hundreds of copies in the first 3 months on Amazon Kindle, while trying to figure out the system, ClickBank sells zilch in the same period. Mobipocket didn’t fare that significantly better.  

Kindle DX

The pragmatic Kindle DX

 

After surveying a great many out there, Kindle is the dream format in many respects (especially read from the Kindle DX).  Not only is the site more popular and thus more heavily converting than any other out there, but it works with other vendors to provide more reach. So you can usually find not only your ebook of choice for whatever format you need (Kindle, PC and iPhone or same format smartphone), but you can also take advantage of Amazon’s customer service policies. As a publisher, customer service is handled for you. As an author, you can rest knowing that your readers (the people supporting you) are being taken care of. Everyone is cozy and happy. And best of all, there is room for the competition to rise. Rumor has it that iPad is actually going to pay their publishers a larger take on their works, but is no small thing for a publisher or the self-published author.  

Amazon(.com) is the most visible player in this market, no question. And the reasons are many: books, daily/weekly/monthly newspapers and magazines, specialty blogs and other special online content abound. No matter what you write or publish, Amazon has figured out a way to make it easy to consume and become a fan of, and that’s great news for those who compete with much bigger authors and publishers. While there are numerous other fledgling sites out there trying to become viable, none ultimately compare to the visibility and trust-worthiness of Amazon(.com), or for the reasonableness of their payment terms. While the Amazon cut is considerably high (two thirds!), the sales and visibility are infinitely better. Moreover, the book you purchase on Kindle is selected, purchased and downloaded right from your Kindle at the touch of one button. How can you compete with that? Clearly newer players will arise who will figure out how to add value to that proposition, but for now the playing field is not so level. How can you sell a book that isn’t visible, or on a site that you don’t trust? Some things are about trust. Social media. Who to call your sweetie. Your lunch-break buddy. And, of course, the activity which comes to define the person more than the person: shopping for worthwhile reads.  

But watch out Kindle, iPad is coming on strong with the come on. They may just clean your clock if you let them get a running start. Afterall, a beautiful iPad will attract the attention of the tragically hip and the aesthetically-inclined. A pretty Apple gadget is often the next big conquest for young tech-savvy consumers. And after all, these are the people who brought us the virus-free Mac, the trend-setting iPod, the Mac Air, and the wildly ubiquitous iPhone.  

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