The Social Media Strategist: Build a Successful Program from the Inside Out Hardcover – Jan 10 2012
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About the Author
Christopher Barger is senior vice president of global programs at Voce Connect, a division of Porter Novelli, which assists clients around the world in developing social media programs and strategies. He spent four years as director of global social media at General Motors, and he served as IBM s blogger-in-chief, playing a crucial role in developing IBM s online presence."
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Top Customer Reviews
* Focuses on principles and guidelines, not tools
* Lays out "The Lucky Seven" requirements for social media success in large organizations right in the intro
* Points out the gap that often exists between consultant advice and the reality of implementing SM in big orgs
* Measurement: spends a good deal of time dispelling the numbers myth (i.e. it's all about how many likes/followers) and arguing for metrics tied to real business goals
* Encourages people to share what doesn't work as much as what does
* Gives lots of specific case studies
* Crises: Explains why, in a crisis, being reactive on the social Web IS proactive.
* Says don't just focus on people with lots of followers.
* Regarding measuring your social media program, he says 'eliminate other factors' to find out if it's your SM program driving change but doesn't explain how to do it since you can't do things over.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What truly impressed me about The Social Media Strategist was the focus on developing an effective and successful social media strategy. This may sound like a colossal no-brainer (I can hear you saying, "Yes, but that's the name of the book!") - trust me when I say that I've read far too many books, posts and articles that SAY they'll help you develop a strategy, but don't. The author provides concrete advice, actionable ideas and insights that make sense from both a business perspective and a social media perspective. All too often you get one or the other - rarely do you get both in one place.
Christopher Barger learned by doing, and he shares his hard-won knowledge in an eminently readable book. I'd say it belongs on the shelf of every organization that values excellence in social media, but you'll reach for it so often that it might be easier to keep it on your desk. Simply stated, if you want to develop a successful social media strategy or if you want to enhance an existing strategy, do yourself a favor and read this book.
We need more books like this. So many businesses are doing the work of social media management - and, if they are doing it successfully, humanizing themselves in the process - and we want to read more insights from people who are actually living and breathing it, not those who are just playing with it and presenting the same old ideas everywhere they go to audiences who don't know any better. THIS is the kind of book you should be reading - with lessons from the trenches, not just from the podium. (Though if Christopher is speaking somewhere - go, and relish the opportunity to ask him questions as someone who's truly immersed in the real work of social media.)
I teach an undergraduate social media marketing course and needed a professional book. With recent tuition hikes, etc... there is a push for faculty to require professional books like this one rather than pricey textbooks - $25 vs. $100. Publishing reps sent me over 30 books to review and consider. I spent an entire Saturday skimming through each one.
Here's why I picked this book:
1) Chris Barger actually worked as a social media professional. It wasn't all theory and buzzwords. He actually did the work, wrote the text, dealt with internal politics and personally handled a really nasty online crisis. He spoke about each element of a social media plan then shared his personal experiences. Students got it because he connected the concept with actual events.
2) The book is written like a conversation. He drops a few curse words and points out his mistakes. Wow! Again, students connected with it because he sounded like a human being and not a boring, clinical textbook. If you follow him on Twitter, he sounds the same. Truly genuine which students picked up on right way. So many students told me that this was the first book that they ever really read cover to cover in college. Considering my course is a 4000-level for seniors, that's saying something.
3) The information was timely and timeless. Because the content focused on strategy and not the "how to use" social media platforms, the book is just as relevant today and it was when it was published. I teach strategic concepts with a book and "how to" via class assignments. A good business approach never ages.
I've required this book for five classes and it's been a hit each time. When students actually rave about the book on the final course survey, you know it's a winner!
Despite the fact that I already provide Social Media Strategy Design assistance to businesses and individuals, this book is still a trusty resource to have on the shelf...
"Demands and expectations of big companies -- and even laws governing their behavior -- are different from those for individuals or small shops," Barger notes in the introduction to "The Social Media Strategist: Build a Successful Program from the Inside Out."
This is welcome insight for anyone working for corporations, institutions and other large organizations. Far too many popular social media tomes miss this basic distinction: "If you haven't been inside a company or organization -- if you don't know corporate culture and bureaucracy, or have no experience navigating internal minefields -- then you don't know how to make social media work inside a company."
Barger is just the person to tackle this subject from the insider's perspective, having led early social media efforts at IBM and built the social program from the ground up at General Motors -- two of the largest organizations going.
"The Social Media Strategist" provides a blueprint for communications and marketing professionals spearheading social programs in large organizations. It's also for PR and marketing firms with large corporate clients.
The book walks you, chapter by chapter, through the seven elements required in an effective organizational social media program, including:
1) The executive champion -- the leader who secures adoption of the vision, backs the program with budget and headcount, and stops the spread of parallel programs.
2) Organizational "ownership" of social media -- and how to bring HR, Customer Service, IT, PR and Marketing to the table to collaborate.
3) The social media evangelist -- not a "rock star," explains Barger, but "a business leader who is equally adroit inside your walls as outside -- someone with the brand not just to represent it online but also to build social media into a business practice within that company."
4) Tangible metrics to track progress and effectiveness -- solid information about establishing baseline metrics and creating, implementing and measuring social media activities that have a positive financial impact.
5) Partnering with the legal department -- beyond Federal Trade Commission guidelines and regulation of online activities to understanding the legal nuances of your own industry, vetting social media policy, developing a genuine partnership with lawyers, supporting their learning curve, and even getting the legal team to engage in online communities!
6) Social media policy -- what to include in policies and usage guides.
7) Educating employees -- an in-depth discussion about training, from policy adherence to teaching staff social media best practices to dispersing expertise throughout the organizational functions.
The book doesn't really explore using social media for internal communications and offers minimal practical tips for gaining buy-in for functional ownership of the social media program if there are disagreements within your organization. But these could be topics for entire books and are minor quibbles when viewed against the strategic perspective of the whole.
Barger shares strategies for starting small -- taking advantage of social media's ability to target and engage customers where they live and in the local communities where you do business. Plus, there's an intriguing chapter, entitled "Dealbreakers," which provides astute advice for both organizations and practitioners when it comes to hiring or being hired into a social media team.
Barger's expertise orchestrating large-scale social media programs is never more apparent than in the last two chapters on crisis communications.
"When All Hell Breaks Lose" shares six case studies, including self-generated social media crises, customer service issues, and how to combat campaigns against your organization.
The final section is a full-chapter case study of the social media communications program Barger and his team implemented at GM, announcing the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. You couldn't ask for a better roadmap for a social crisis communications plan than this chapter, which also focuses on what brands must do in the aftermath.
"Reputational recovery and repair requires follow-up. Lots of it," he emphasizes. The people representing large companies need to remain in the social space, acting like human beings. They need to ask lots of questions, and, above all, listen to feedback.
Barger gets -- and has worked inside -- organizations that "cannot behave quite as openly as they might wish." His experiences offer tremendous insight to those engaged in creating corporate programs that audiences want to be part of.
"Ultimately," Barger concludes of organizational social media, "it still is about relationships, humanizing, and people liking your brand or organization because they like your people. Humanizing your brand does no good for you unless people like the humans they meet from your brand."
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