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Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers Hardcover – Jan 24 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
For the past five years, Microsoft employee Scoble has maintained one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. Mixing personal notes with passionate, often-controversial commentary on technology and business, his blog is "naked"—i.e., not filtered through his employer's marketing or public relations department—a key part of its appeal. In this breezy book, Scoble and coauthor Israel argue that every business can benefit from smart "naked" blogging, whether the company's a smalltown plumbing operation or a multinational fashion house. "If you ignore the blogosphere... you won't know what people are saying about you," they write. "You can't learn from them, and they won't come to see you as a sincere human who cares about your business and its reputation." To bolster their argument, Scoble and Israel have assembled an enormous amount of information about blogging: from history and theory to comparisons among countries and industries. They also lay out the dos and don'ts of the medium and include extensive statistics, dozens of case studies and several interviews with famous bloggers. They consider the darker aspects of blogging as well—including the possibility of getting fired by an unsympathetic employer. For companies that have already embraced blogging, this book is an essential guide to best practice. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Scoble, a video blogger for Microsoft, and technology guru Israel have put together a bible for business bloggers. Drawn from their own experiences, as well as from numerous comments posted to their blog (http://redcouch.typepad.com/), they have produced a book with the conversational style of blogs. Starting with a brief history of -Word-of-Mouth- products such as the ICQ global instant messaging service and web browser Firefox, and placing blogging firmly in this context, they state that blogs are -Word-of-Mouth on Steroids.- Included are interviews with company bloggers from the technology industry, of course, but also from various other businesses. Scoble and Israel outline the right and the wrong ways to blog in a business context (e.g., don't say anything you wouldn't say directly to a client or the company VP) and provide basic advice on blogging generally and on related emerging technologies. The key points of the book are that blogs are better than traditional one-way marketing because they allow instant two-way communication with customers, developing a loyalty unmatched by other marketing endeavors. In fact, if a business doesn't blog, its customers will abandon that company in favor of one that does. This book should be in all public libraries and academic business collections.—Robert Harbison, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green (Library Journal, January 15, 2006)
For the past five years, Microsoft employee Scoble has maintained one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. Mixing personal notes with passionate, often-controversial commentary on technology and business, his blog is "naked"—i.e., not filtered through his employer's marketing or public relations department—a key part of its appeal. In this breezy book, Scoble and coauthor Israel argue that every business can benefit from smart "naked" blogging, whether the company's a smalltown plumbing operation or a multinational fashion house. "If you ignore the blogosphere... you won't know what people are saying about you," they write. "You can't learn from them, and they won't come to see you as a sincere human who cares about your business and its reputation." To bolster their argument, Scoble and Israel have assembled an enormous amount of information about blogging: from history and theory to comparisons among countries and industries. They also lay out the dos and don'ts of the medium and include extensive statistics, dozens of case studies and several interviews with famous bloggers. They consider the darker aspects of blogging as well—including the possibility of getting fired by an unsympathetic employer. For companies that have already embraced blogging, this book is an essential guide to best practice. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2005)See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is an excellent book. I am passionate about business blogs. I truly believe they have value for a business. The book re-affirms this. Naked Coversations is easy to read, fast and well organized. It combines advice on blogging (and why blogs help companies) with stories of real bloggers.
Blogs have dangers but those dangers tend to be over rated. Not blogging is a greter danger. As I have said many times, blogs are a new media. Companies that ignore it do so at great peril. At the same time, blogs cannot be blatant self or company promotion - readers (and other bloggers see right through that and can decimate a company).
This book ranks an 8 out of 10 on the Jim Estill Scale (and I am a tough marker). How do I know if a book is good? If I make a change as a result. I turned off word verification on my blog to make it easier to comment (I still review all comments and don't let spam through but am trying to make it easier to have a conversation). I get twice as many emails as comments on my blog as a result of my blog. The book drives home that comments and coversations are good.
I also know a book is good if I buy multiple copies for people that I think should read it. And in this case I did.
Both "A-List" bloggers, the authors admit their bias as "blogging champions" who deem blogs essential for business. They passionately document the right - and wrong - way to blog. Their advice ranges from the broad, be authentic - not corporate, to the specific, how to choose a title for your blog.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses (including 40 companies from the Fortune 500 list) have jumped on the blogging bandwagon. How do you know if it's right for yours? The bottom line is this: If your customers want a blog, you better start one before someone else starts one about you.
Although the book was written as things like RSS and podcasting were just emerging, much of the advice in the book will not soon be dated. If you think a blog might be right for your company, this book belongs on a short list of resources that you can't afford to ignore.
Our book club author William Zahn wrote:
In the last decade, marketing has undergone a major shift from one-directional messages to conversations. The primary reason for the shift is the widespread acceptance of blogs. Blogs provide a number of benefits to organizations, including greater access to honest feedback from customers.
Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel takes us into the world of corporate blogging, weighs the pros and cons for companies, and gives us some guidelines to follow should we decide to enter into a conversation with our customers.
Actionable Books summarized this through their book club, to check out the rest of William's summary, go to [...].
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've been a late recruit to the Blogosphere, but I'm now lapping up everything that I can find. One of the most fascinating things to someone who's taught neurology for years, is the way in which links are developing in almost exactly the same way as occurs in the developing brain, and the same principles apply in the Blogosphere, and in the brain of mature individuals as they learn new information.
This book starts with a quick overview of why blogging is becoming such an important part of our lives, and then we're off. We get straight into tons of practical advice.
Although I'm an admitted newbie, I think that even experienced users will likely find a lot to interest them here.
The book identifies eleven tips on how to Blog, with a nice section on each:
1. Get found easily
2. Read and comment on blogs before starting your own
3. Keep if simple and focused
4. Show passion
5. Demonstrate authority
6. Allow comments (Not everyone does, but the authors are quite right in saying that a good blog is a conversation)
7. Be accessible
8. Tell a compelling personal story
9. "Be linky"
10. Build real world relationships
11. Use your referrer log
All of this is sage advice, and the book contains loads more.
By the way, it's also a fun read: so naturally, it is highly recommended!
While the authors enthusiasm for something they themselves do well can be understood, their perspective is limited. For example, they cite Apple and Google among companies that discourage employees from maintaining blogs. The author's attitude is that "some cultures are open and others closed." Frankly it appears Scoble and Israel have no conception of all the legal reasons why organizations may choose to discourage blogging. Trade secret, security, privacy, harassment, international laws all must be scrupulously observed to protect a company against potential liability and unless platoons of lawyers are to be employed merely to review proposed blog postings, many companies are well advised to discourage employees from posting.
Thus, the authors threat that companies that discourage blogging "will be perceived in the public eye as less interesting or relevant than those that do" is humorous as well as misinformed.
Claims such as "[b]logging is cheaper and more effective than most marketing programs in use today" are simply unsupportable, though the authors do cite a couple of examples. But exceptions do not make a rule.
Scoble and Israel fully admit to their personal enthusiasm for blogging and they are indeed believers as every page makes clear. They do present a solid framework for business blogging with lots of solid tips for those sticking a toe in the blogging waters.
But on the whole, blogs are simply one more tool for organizations to consider. For many companies (and, particularly, individuals), blogging may make a substantial difference - but, as with everything else, for most it won't.
Given all my reservations, I would still recommend that managers at least give this book a fast read, just to stay current with blogging and what the buzz is all about.
Don't miss this book even if you and/or your organization haven't yet jumped into the blogosphere.
Scoble and Israel hammer home the point that blogging and other forms of social media are transforming how businesses communicate with customers, suppliers, and all their constituencies.
But this isn't a one-sided, navel-gazing tome on the virtues of blogging. This book is full of hard-hitting advice from dozens of successful bloggers on what makes some blogs work and others flame out.
The book itself is like a blog on steroids, but with a natural thread through the topics that leads the reader easily from one subject to the next. It's more of a conversation than a traditional book.
Throughout the case studies, the authors let the voices of the bloggers shine through, giving the reader a sense of the issues each company faced. When the authors agree or disagree with how a business handled a situation, they let you know-in a civilized way.
Scoble and Israel boil down their research and experience to help businesses understand the nuts and bolts of blogging without going geeky on the reader. They've got eleven tips for a successful blog, how to blog your way through a crisis, and an update of Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto.
Make no mistake-this is a business book. If you're blogging now, read it for the hundreds of insights you'll uncover. If your organization isn't blogging, use this book as a discussion starter for deciding whether blogging is right for your company.
However, the authors make a great case for blogs and showcase their power in crisis management, recruiting, and customer support and evangelism. Companies that capitalized on this trend (Microsoft, L'Oreal) came out as big winners, and companies which failed to do so (Kensington, Google) have looming PR crises. Blogs can be instrumental in two-way marketing, and in today's world of 'citizen journalism' they can make for great customer evangelism tools, or if you're not careful, a public bashing from online and offline press. As the authors point out, people are more polite when they know you are listening. The PR folks, the marketing consultants, and mom-and-pop shops stand to benefit from ideas described in this book.
Blogs may not be revolutionary after all, but without a doubt, they add to the repertoire of marketing and PR strategies. Blogs are word-of-mouth on steroids; blogs can make or break your company in a span of several hours, and you better figure out what you're going to do about it before it's too late.
The authors put forward a convincing case that businesses large and small need to take blogging seriously. On the one hand, corporate blogging can provide excellent return on investment, particularly in terms of search engine rankings but also, less quantifiably, in shared community perceptions. On the other hand, ignoring the blogosphere or entering it without taking account of its culture risks injuring a company's credibility. A key point is that blogging, unlike traditional public relations, is as much or more about listening as it is about speaking.
The authors divide the book into three sections. The first provides a series of case studies exploring different aspects of corporate blogging. Scoble and Israel point to corporate (and national) culture as the major differentiator between companies which encourage blogging and those which do not. Some companies like Google and Apple have turned corporate secrecy into a competitive strategy. Others simply let the big boss blog, preferring not to allow the minions to express themselves in their own voices. Microsoft and Sun are among the forward-thinking corporations which recognize the public relations value of encouraging their employees to talk online about the products and ideas they care about. The second section gives very practical tips about how and how not to blog about business. The third section, which is the shortest, provides a broader perspective on the place of blogging among other emerging technologies and trends.
Robert Scoble did a tremendous job with Channel 9 while he was at Microsoft. His video interviews introduced me to the people building the technologies I use everyday. I now feel a kind of personal connection to Microsoft and its employees. This would never have happened through advertising and traditional public relations. It came as a result of letting employees speak publicly about what they are working on. Rather than thinking about the company as a `Borg,' I regard Microsoft as a collection of extremely interesting and creative individuals who also listen and respond to what others have to say about their products.
Naked Conversations is not a technical book about how to set up a blog. Rather, it's an introduction to the culture of blogging and how it contributes to business today. Clearly, anyone considering blogging about business will want to read this book first--not just to avoid getting `dooced'--but to gain the right perspective on the risks and returns of talking and listening to customers online.
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