I’m not a huge fan of the social media book craze. They’re a dime a dozen. Go check out the marketing section at Barnes & Noble sometime. There are literally hundreds of books telling you all you need to know about digital marketing from content strategy to SEO to how to “do” Facebook.
And most are from authors I’ve never even heard of. Not that I know everyone–far from it. But, the beauty and the drawback of the publishing industry now is that everyone’s an author. And, just maybe that shouldn’t be the case.
Anyway, as a result of this social media book overload, I tend to avoid most of these books. I’ve read a handful over the years: Lee Odden’s Optimize comes to mind as one I liked. But overall, I tend to think most are regurgitated content I’ve already read on the web, or repurposed blog content.
Enter Jay Baer’s new Youtility book. He was gracious enough to give me an advanced copy. I devoured it in two days.
Why read Jay’s book and not others? A few reasons:
1: Jay’s a great writer. I’ve been a big fan of Jay’s blog for years (even though I’d love to see him write more lately). Partly because he’s a smart guy. But partly because he’s also a great writer.
2: The concept of the book resonated with me. So many companies are focusing on using social media to sell. And then here comes Jay talking about companies using social and digital tools to HELP. I’ve always loved that approach, so I was immediately interested in Jay’s book.
3. Stats to back up his thinking. Since I’ve been a reader of Jay’s blog for years, I knew he’d definitely be backing up his opinions with good, old-fashioned research. No willy-nilly opinions here.
So, how was the book, you say? Here are six quotes I think sum up Youtility to a tee:
“In 2010, shoppers needed 5.3 sources of information before making a purchase decision. In 2011, just one year later, shoppers needed 10.4 sources before making a purchase decision.”
Jay talks about the “zero moment of truth” here and how people are accessing more points of information before buying simply because they can. So, the question becomes: What is YOUR company doing to make sure your customers have the information they need before making a decision? Do you know what info they’re accessing? Do you know HOW they’re accessing it?
“Your industry isn’t relevant. What matters is that other companies are embracing Youtility, and, in doing, they are changing the expectations of your customers, whether you like it or not.”
Love this quote because, much like Jay, I hear this same refrain from potential clients on a fairly regular basis. “That’s not relevant in our industry.” “No one does that in our industry.” It doesn’t really matter that no one in health care is providing customer service via Twitter because Comcast changed that game back when they started doing it in 2008.
For decades, the key question has been “how valuable is the brand?” The key question moving forward is “how valuable are your apps?”
I’m not sure I’m completely on board with the “app-ification” of the Web, but there’s little doubt that it is going to play a might big part in the future of online marketing. I think about Target’s new Cartwheel tool. Right now, it’s very clunky, mostly because they DON’T have an app and you have to go through the web on your phone to access the darn thing. The app-ification of marketing might be closer than I think…
“You have to understand not just what your customers need, but how and where they prefer to access information.”
I though this was a key quote to the entire book. It’s not enough simply to know what your customers need in terms of Youtility. You also need to know how they want to get to that info (on their smartphone, on the run, at home on the couch, etc.) I agree with Jay–too many companies stop after answering the first question. You can’t forget about that second part.
“We need to cross the line from enablement to encouragement.” — Michael Brenner, SAP
For anyone that works in social/digital within a big company, this quote should resonate big time. Right now, for the lion’s share of organizations, we’re in the “enablement” era, as Brenner’s quote points out. The marketing and PR departments are helping identify and push internal experts to create content and participate online. Where we need to get to is that “encouragement” phase where these folks are not only doing creating/participating on their own–they’re encouraging peers to do the same without even asking.
“Forms are the enemy of spread.” — Joe Chernov, Kinvey
Another great quote that really points out another key area many companies struggle with. In the rush to grab leads on the front end, many companies are too forceful. They ask for too much up front. Phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses. I’m not saying you don’t ask for this information, but I tend to agree with Baer here, too. If your company’s Youtility is strong enough, these customers will come back and reach out to you for more information. The lesson: Put more effort/resources into your Youtility, use fewer forms on the front end and work to meet more customers at that zero moment of truth.
Have you read the book yet? What did you think?
Last week, my wife and I started a two-person book club (the things you do in the name of marriage). Up first: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.
It’s tough to go 24 hours these days without hearing someone reference the book. Obviously, Sandberg’s a big voice—and personality—in the social world given her role at Facebook. But, she’s also now a big voice in the gender/workforce discussion given this book.
And, most of the discussion I’ve heard has been coming from one side of the gender-based aisle: The female side.
But, I’m here to say this is a pretty good read for men, too.
In fact, I believe Sandberg herself would probably back up that claim in a big way, given her assertions in the book that women need more male supporters and champions (both in the workplace and at home).
As I read through the book (it’s a fast read—just 172 pages not including the exhaustive appendix and acknowledgments), a number of quotes and concepts brought to life why I think the book is really just a great career book for women AND men in PR:
“Done is better than perfect.”
The famous Facebook poster, right? But, I love this quote for so many reasons. For a long time, I’ve made the assumption that completing a project to 80 percent of my satisfaction is “good enough.” Yeah, I strive for 100 percent everyday. But the reality is 100 percent isn’t attaintable every day of every month of every year. So, sometimes 80 percent is good enough. That’s what this quote is getting at—and it’s a key one to keep in mind throughout your career. Don’t try to be perfect. Try for 100 percent—but be OK with 80 percent.
“If you please everybody, you’re not making enough progress.”
Great quote from Mark Zuckerberg, and I think it’s something many people struggle with. Many of us (including me) would classify ourselves as “people pleasers.” We want people to like us, so we work to make them happy (above all else). But, what we should sometimes be focused on is the task at hand. And sometime the task at hand (or making progress, as Zuckerberg says) comes at the cost of others not liking us. We’re going to upset some applecarts along the way. And, we need to be OK with that. Not everyone is going to be happy. And, I think Zuckerberg would actually prefer it that way. But, I think the key here is to have leadership that supports a culture where pushing for progress is not only OK, but it’s also preferred and supported. You won’t get that in every role—and in some you can even help foster that culture. But, othertimes you’ll get push-back, and those are the times where you need to stand strong. You need to push forward.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Another wonderful quote from Alice Walker in the book. Sandberg was referring to the predisposition of women to relinquish power by not owning up to their accomplishments. But, as I read this quote, I thought: This obviously applies to women AND men (in PR). I mean, I certainly acknowledge that women are probably less prone to promoting themselves in the workplace, but I also know a lot of guys who are a bit too humble and have a tough time trumpeting their own success, too. The key lesson here: Don’t be afraid to stand behind your success. Chances are, you worked your butt off to achieve it. Own it. And take the power that comes with it (just don’t abuse it).
Women apply for jobs only if they meet 100 percent of the criteria—whereas men apply for jobs if they meet 60 percent of the criteria.
This one didn’t surprise me. Here’s why. I have a female friend who I meet with every so often. Recently she’s been looking for a new gig. As she’s been perusing job opportunities, she’ll run them by me every so often. She recently asked for my opinion on a job that was a pretty big leap for her—but one she could definitely handle. But when she looked at the job description, all she saw were skills, capabilities and experience she did NOT have. I said, that’s fine. Apply anyway. After all, these employers sometimes know they won’t get the candidate they’re looking for—they’re just hoping to get 80 percent of the candidate they’re looking for. And, if you don’t apply, there’s a 100 percent chance you won’t be considered. After talking it through, she applied. Now, I don’t know if she got the job yet, but the lesson remains: Apply for the job you want. Even if you don’t meet all the criteria. You never know what the employer is thinking—and you never know where they’re willing to compromise.
“What’s your biggest problem—and how can I help solve it?”
This was a question a job seeker has posed to Sandberg as she was pining for a job at Facebook—and it’s brilliant. Instead of begging and lauding her accomplishments, this job seeker flipped the process on its head. Mrs. Employer: What are YOUR needs and how can I help solve them? Every business has challenges. Needs. Problems. If you can help solve those and make those challenges go away, how valuable do you think that person would be? What a great way to re-frame your job search. And for consultants/agency folks, think about how you can take this approach with new/existing clients. Instead of telling clients what you can do for them—why not start by talking about their challenges (and then talk about how you can help solve them). Truth be told, any consultant who’s NOT taking this approach should seriously re-consider their line of work. My approach has long been to ask the client or would-be client numerous questions before I even say a word in our first.
But obviously the biggest reason more men should be reading this book is the very reasons Sandberg lays out in the book. To succeed in the workplace and at home, women need our help. They need men to help and share the load at home (loved the “We need more men at the table…the kitchen table” quote). And they need men to help out in the workplace–not necessarily as sponsors and mentors, but more as advocates for more women leaders.
Guys in PR (and other fields): Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?
As some of you know, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read 26 books in 2011. I’m happy to report I’m already four books in. Number four was a rather brisk, but enjoyable read by two folks I love reading regularly: Jay Baer and Amber Naslund.
The book reads a lot like a “how to” book for adopting key social media tenets. For me, and many other folks who have been living online for a while, there’s not a lot of new ground covered here. But, then again, we’re not exactly Jay and Amber’s target audience.
For the unititiated, the book offers a number of great lessons. I’m not going to go into great detail here breaking down the book section by section. You can find much better reviews by Jason Falls, Nikki Stephan, Patrick Garmoe and Aaron Lee.
But, since the book was based on the seven shifts to make your business faster, smarter and more social, I wanted to offer up seven lessons I took away from the book:
* Characteristics you look for in employees are changing. The book has a great graphic that highlights the charachteristics organization’s used to look for in employees and those they should start looking for today. Curiousity, enthusiasm, humility and connectivity were a few of the more notable characteristics. Further proof that today’s marketer/PR is changing–are you adapting?
* Do social roles have a future? The book also outlines a number of new positions that are popping up inside companies big and small across the world. Social anthropologists, internal community managers and social media analysts, just to name a few. My question: How long a shelf life do these types of social media specific positions have? My opinion? I think eventually they’ll become more a part of a marketer/PR job–instead of one-off positions.
* The critical importance of using social media behind the firewall. This was a key theme that emerged consistently throughout the book. And, it’s one I don’t think is talked about nearly enough, so I’m glad Jay and Amber chose to highlight it. Using social tools internally to share, collaborate, innovate and identify “social objects” you can share across the Web is critical. And, thanks to the advent of tools like Facebook and LinkedIn groups, you no longer have to rely on expensive, off-the-shelf type products to create your own internal social network. So, I guess the real question is, what’s stopping you now?
* Coordinate your efforts–or die. Jay brought up the Timberwolves example in the book, which I found interesting because I remember when Jay blogged about that very example last year. The lesson? Make sure the left hand is talking to the right hand within your organization. You could have the greatest idea that’e executed across your social channels, but if your Web site (and other key media) doesn’t reinforce that idea/message, it’s all wasted time and effort. Make sure your internal teams are meeting regularly, sharing notes and collaborating so you avoid this kind of snafu.
* Social objects=information annuities. One of my favorite metaphors of the book. Jay and Amber refer to your social content online as “information annuities” that pay off time and time again (as compared to that direct mail piece which is seen once and thrown away forever). Just gives you a different way to think about why social content is so important. It’s archivable and searchable–forever.
* Complete vs. Extrapolated data. The example used in the book to highlight this point is the Nielsen data vs. online data. And, the argument is a good one. Worth thinking about as you consider the “ROI” of social media? Is it really that much different than the ROI of your advertising campaign? Your mass media outreach? You could make a pretty good argument that online and social data gives you much MORE information than just about anything you’ve done in the past.
* It’s not what you measure–it’s how you analyze that data. Not surprisingly, Jay and Amber nailed this point that seems to challenge many. Measuring itself isn’t the hard part–it’s taking that data, analyzing it and using it to further achieve your goals and objectives. And, I loved the authors’ point of setting aside time for this analysis and building it into your measurement process. Great tip for companies that are just getting started.
Finally, Jay and Amber were gracious enough to provide me with a book to give away to the community. Given the lessons I outlined above, which do you feel is most important to today’s business and why? Leave your comment below for a chance to win the book (I’ll draw a name randomly this Friday, Feb. 25).