Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods Hardcover – Sep 3 2009
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About the Author
Shel Israel is a social media journalist and public speaker. He has contributed to FastCompany.com, BusinessWeek.com, and the Dow Jones Company. He is the coauthor with Robert Scoble of Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers and author of The Conversational Corporation, a Dow Jones eBook.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I made it a point to observe the book's author Shel Israel and witness his interactions with the people who stood on line to get their copies signed. I notice his warmth and authentic interactions with people on the line and to my amazement he engaged them in conversation. No made up smile and next, no rushing. He was enjoying interacting with people and sharing their perspectives on twitter. The line was growing longer so I decided to buy the book. I thought that someone as engaging as this, a true listener would have insights on Twitter that I may be interested in reading.
I was not disappointed. I purchased the book at the Twitterville event and I have been enthralled ever since by his brilliant insights and observations. The book reads like a fine novel with the story telling prowess of any of the best in the fiction genre. He recounts without adornment the way people have used Twitter in real life situations. He weaves the tales of twitter user wield it as a new weapon against the biggest most dangerous bureaucracies in America, Corporate behemoths, such as the airlines and retail establishments who have long ago ignored their customers who they treat as mere objects. He is careful to show how some corporations such as Dell have begun to use Twitter to serve their customers and build traction for their product introductions and on-line venues.
We are now hearing the new buzz words: real time web, anytime anywhere Internet, and most recently groundswell, a term coined by Charlene Li who along with Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research, released a book with that name. Groundswell is becoming the most important book in this emerging genre. Charlene Li wrote the forward for Shel israel's Twitterville. In it, she says "Twitter is not a technology. It's a conversation". If this is true, then Shel's book will become the pioneering work that shows how the groundswell of people building relationships with each other will be the turning point in human communications on this planet. These conversations will begin to define how we respond to our world and how we begin to assert the power of people to make true change sustainable.
So please read this book. After you read it pass it along to your friends and get others to realize the magic of the twitter phenomenon for themselves. if you were as impacted as i am , please tweet about it. The author's twitter handle is @shelisrael. Let him know as well. He will respond to you. If you appreciate this review, you can follow me on twitter as well. My handle is guarionex88. I write about subjects relevant to emerging technologies such as WiMAX, Google wave, Apple's iPhone and most recently Twitter.
Here's why: Twitterville offers an outstanding insight, through case studies, into the different ways that individuals and businesses (large and small) have successfully leveraged Twitter. Importantly, even though it seems silly to talk about history when discussing Twitter (after all, Twitter is only 3 years old), this history is important because it shows the growing shifts in social activism and the increasing voice that loosely organized "groups" have gained when using Twitter to respond to marketing campaigns (and missteps) launched by brands. This history also shows that cultural norms - even for a 3 year old social network - continue to radically shift. What was acceptable in 2007 and 2008 (or if not acceptable, at least not visible) is met with criticism and anger in 2009.
Why should you care how others have leveraged Twitter? You should care because missteps on Twitter can create publicity nightmares for brands (and individuals). And while some brands even now continue to stay silent on Twitter, Shel correctly reminds us in the final chapter that: "Chances are that right now, there's a conversation going on in Twitterville that can impact what you do for a living."
Think about that for a moment. Historically, brands (mostly through agencies) closely guarded and controlled conversations about their products or services. Social networks have changed this dynamic, and Twitter has led this shift. Through case studies, Shel shows how big brands (including Dell, Jetblue, Comcast, American Airlines, U-Haul) and small brands (including Seesmic, StockTwits and my company, crowdSPRING) reacted to these changes (some leveraging the opportunities to strengthen their brands, while others failing miserably and tarnishing their brands). While there's still a great deal of confusion about how companies can fully and sincerely use Twitter, there's little doubt that some brands could benefit from interacting with their customers on Twitter.
If you're not interested in business case studies and stories, Twitterville has plenty to keep you interested. For example, Shel writes about how individuals - including, among others, Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) and Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) - have built personal brands using Twitter. Other chapters cover Twitter's impact on journalists, politicians, and charitable fundraising, among other topics.
This isn't a how-to book. Those looking for a list of top 10 things you can do to increase Twitter followers won't find such a list in Twitterville. However, those looking to understand how to succeed (or avoid failure) on Twitter will learn much from reading this book.
Twitterville is a logical extension of Naked Conversations. It's well-written and digs deep on how companies have used (as well as haven't used) this new medium to their advantage. Twitter, whether you like it or not, is changing the world. People are thinking and reading in 140 characters or less. Companies are beginning to listen and open their doors to Twitter. The results are amazing and Shel has documented all of the amazing stories in a single volume... Twitterville.
This book is a must read for companies who "don't get" Twitter. It's a must read for Marketers who want to effectively use Twitter. And it's a great read for Twitter business users - providing them with priceless information on how to leverage the medium. Kudos to Shel for writing such an amazing book - the best book to date that I've found on the strategies behind Twitter!
Twitterville + Twitter for Dummies is the power combination for developing and executing strategies utilizing Twitter! Must reads for every business.
When I give talks about new media, I'm fond of telling people that even if you memorized a how-to book about Twitter, you still won't know anything about Twitter, because a lot of it is about street smarts and experimentation and trial-and-error. Twitterville profiles people that have been through the trials-by-fire, have succeeded and failed, and generally have shared their knowledge - and indeed their lives - with audiences through this fascinating new technology.
You can also read a little about me in the book: I'm @cheeky_geeky!
You get seventeen chapters divided into three parts. Part one covers who created Twitter and why including some interesting ways companies like Dell and Comcast are using it to communicate with their customers or at least segments of their customer base.
Part two covers issues such as using Twitter as a marketplace, how companies with a global reach can feel local through the service, the issue of whether or not your company's twitter presence should be your logo without a real person's name attached or not, whether you should invite customer feedback or use twitter as a broadcast medium, how small companies can maximize their marketplace presence using Twitter, how you can create your own personal brand on Twitter, using Twitter to create and consume news (and the dangers of using it for vanity reasons), how politicians and stakeholder groups use Twitter to organize - advocate - and disseminate information, and how the service can aid your goodwill fundraising efforts.
Part three has only two chapters, but they are quite helpful. The first contains the authors tips on making the most from your use of Twitter and how to maximize your effectiveness. The second is how to participate in and develop global networks.
If you are already a Twitter guru, this book might not interest you, unless you want to explore some ways others are using it that might be different than your own. But for most of us, me included, this book gave me lots of new information, some great ideas, and expanded my view of what Twitter is and can do.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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