Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies

My selection of groundswell was based on three factors: 1) Senior Management in my company has been struggling with understanding the implications of social media, 2) I’d read a review of the book in an HBR magazine, and 3) I had no knowledge of social media and was curious. For all of the time I spend on computers, I had not spent anytime getting to know the Web 2.0; I’d heard about FaceBook, seen rss symbols and the like but never interacted. So to say this book is the New Influencers on steroids is probably not that much of an exaggeration. Corporations, like people, don’t always get it. Corporations do not naturally gravitate to places where they are not in control. The premise of groundswell is to help corporations I come to grips with “a social trend in which people use technologies to get things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” The speed and breadth of change was accelerating and becoming … well, a groundswell. The groundswell was the result of a collision of three forces: people (i.e. always dependent on each other), increased use of technology (i.e. 73% of people in the US are online), and software that was both more interactive and ‘people aware’. What makes this type of change different is the powerful software that is in the hands of people who are frequently connected and the new Internet economics (traffic equals money). Groundswell is about the power and influence Web 2.0 has on the fabric of our society today. A key point of the book is whether a company chooses to participate or not, the groundswell may involve that company. The groundswell is bigger than an individual company. The matter at hand is how to companies engage in the rising groundswell - either they succumb to its power or ride the swell. This is a book to help a company understand the changes and make conscious decisions to engage in the revolution or not.

The approach in groundswell applies to all levels of business (large or small). As is often the case with innovation, small business tend to embrace change more readily (more risk tolerant) while large businesses try to control the change. This book provides a methodology for understanding, identifying fits, and targeting the use of the new social media. This book can be the reference primer for a company trying to match their product or culture to various aspects of the new social media in use on the web (e.g. is a blog the right means of talking with stakeholders?).

This is a business book, targeted to senior executives and implementation management in marketing, finance and sales in corporations. Because Forrester is a research and consulting company, the format and approach of the book is to describe the new technology space, introduce tools and processes that a corporation could use in implementing strategies in this new media space.

Given we have The New Influencers as a basis for framing the social media space that describe the new media and how to engage on various levels. The focus of this report is on two aspects that are unique to corporations. The first is to define why corporations are reluctant to participate and to describe one of the new tools, Techographics®.

§ The first aspect – is about tapping into the groundswell. Li and Bernoff are adamant – do not start with a random social strategy, the outcomes can be worse than you imagine. The authors describe a four-step process (called POST) for planning to build a strategy. POST stands for people, objectives strategies, and technology; Notice that technology is only 1 of 4 attributes of the method. Li and Bernoff repeatedly point out that the new social media is about people interactions facilitated by technology not the other way around.
§ The second aspect – Li and Bernoff articulate a call to action for corporations. Their basic premise is the groundswell can threaten corporations and their brands as customers draw strength and information from each other. Ignoring the phenomena or having a good defense is no longer enough. The Social Technographic Profile refers to Forrester’s methodology for surveying consumers that focus’s on their technology behaviors. At the core of the profile is a common way to group people based on groundswell activities and the way they in which they participate. Based on extensive surveys, Forrester has created and maintains baselines of behaviors they can slice into any demographic.

In conclusion, this book is directed to managers and professionals charged with managing a brand or marketing a product or service for a corporation. It is intended to prepare and guide those executives and professional to enter, handle, and even thrive in the rapidly evolving world of social media. It provides series of tools and/or experts in the space that can help a company solve the question, “How do we get into the new social media channels?” This is a real hands-on ‘how to’ book.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ultimate Guide to Google Ad Words

The UGGAW Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes by Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd is an easy to read 'how-to' type book that will help the reader create and execute a plan of action to increase the CTR on their business web page using google ad words. You will learn how to launch a google ad word campaign and hone your unique selling proposition. This book is filled with the author's life experiences and many testimonials from trusted users of google ad words. These contributions make an other wise dry topic fun and exciting to learn. I recommend this book for small business owners and anyone interested in increasing the CTR of their web site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blogging for Business

The book is obviously about blogging for business, it offers insights and ideas about the importance of blogging in today’s markets and how blogging is not simply a fad. Unfortunately I found this book to be written for someone with limited to no experience in blogging and social media, definitely not a book I would recommend to anyone who has taken e-commerce.
The book opens up by defining terms associated with blogs and continues on to business uses of blogs, benefits, how a business should enter into blogs, promote your blog, legal issues and finally closes with the author’s speculation on the future of blogging. As you can tell from a list of the chapters:
What is a Blog?
Business Uses of Blogs
Blogs on the Inside
Monitoring the Blogosphere
Tapping into the Blogosphere
How to Make Money with Blogs
Planning Your Blog
How to Create a Blog – Step-by-Step
Promoting Your Blog
Using Search Engines to Promote Your Blog
Measuring the Results of Your Blog
Legal Considerations
The Future of Blogging

This book is specifically written for individuals interested in understanding why a blog might be an appropriate course for a business to consider. It cites some key instances where blogs have helped save a company in crisis because of the trust built from the company’s blog, but the book also warns of how blogging just to blog or blogging because of a crisis can actually be detrimental to a company’s reputation.
Overall, I would not recommend this book to anyone in the class. But if you find yourself working for someone who ‘doesn’t get it’, and you need help explaining it to them, you may want to recommend this book to them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



Wikinomics by Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams is a great book geared towards helping traditional marketing expertise understand the new form of marketing, branding, and consumer communication.

            For people with a fairly steady grasp on social media, the book is interesting for the case studies that are included. They show how companies did or did not use social media and the effects that it had. There is a well-structured flow to the book that gives helpful steps and guidelines:

·      Engage and co-create rather than plan and push. The point here is to make the customers the designers and marketers of the product. Rather than the old method of developing a product or service, push through marketing, revising, and starting over again, let the customers help develop a product or service they want and would use. 

·      The second outline is actually four principles that should be followed to function properly with in Web 2.0.

o   Peering- The classic, grass root example of this is Linux. An operating system developed over time by anyone who is interested. The operating system has been given a general public license, which allows everyone to use it for free. The only stipulation that has ever been placed on Linux is that any changes that are made need to made available to others.

o   Global Acting- GM is the example that Wikinomics sighted. They have multiple car companies located and selling all over the world. They were greatly duplicating efforts. Ralph Szygenda, CIO stated that redundancies are costing the company billions and restricting them in future global growth.

o   Openness- One of the more comprehensive examples, focusing on openness is Swiss drug maker Novartis. In February of 2007 they published all of its raw data regarding their genetic research into unlocking type 2-diabetes. Their intention is that if and when another is able to make a break through they will come back to the company to use their services, as it was their openness that allowed the break through.

o   Sharing- having the ability to share across boards and around the world is invaluable. There are multiple contents (i.e. intellectual property or trade secrets) that need to be considered within the context of sharing. The rapid rise in the popularity of Skype is a great example of how important sharing has become.


            As a whole I would highly recommend Wikinomics. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Search Engine Optimiztion for Dummies

My hope was to develop a general knowledge of the basics of search engine optimization; understanding the priorities of optimization and how to develop a web site that has the best opportunity of being optimized with regard to organic search….with the constraints of time, capital and knowledge. This book was developed for someone like me, a layman, with no real knowledge of search engine optimization. This text gives an excellent reason for why-to-optimize and how-to-optimize.

As a review of the book, the title is what you get. For the person that has no technical background that needs to optimize a web site, they would have an outline to go by that explains what is needed to achieve search engine optimization. While this person may not be able to design the pages, he would be able to explain in detail and review plans to increase the chances of improving the web pages organic search results.

The how-to-optimize is spelled out so that anyone with some knowledge of the internet, a company website and knowledge of the HTML or access to someone with a base of knowledge in HTML can develop and implement a strategy to optimize a web site and improve the organic search results for that web site within the search sites. The book organizes planning your search engine strategy in 6 steps.

1. Web site design…web designers are not typically concerned with search engine optimization. It is important to recognize and use content that is identifiable and readable by search engines. It is pointed out to make a Web page well, multimedia should be limited, utilize text and limit graphics, do not be cute or cool and do not utilize the very latest development software. Of these suggestions, content is the most important. Search engines do not read frames well and content that is included in images cannot be read or indexed!

2. Keywords. Keywords are the foundation of developing an effective search engine optimization strategy. Keywords should be integrated throughout the web site and web pages. Title tags, content, density and placement should be watched and keywords should be prominent in all. The text recommends optimizing one or two keywords or phrases per page.

3. Content. Search engines index text. To optimize your site, you will need a lot of text that incorporates keywords and phrases. Again, key words should be integrated throughout your web site. Keywords should be in not just the above but also Meta tags headers and links.

4. Page optimization. As a rule, the author suggests limiting multimedia, avoiding framing, using text—no graphics, do not use the latest development software. It is of the upmost importance to develop your content and ensure that the content is readable by the search engines.

5. Submissions. In some aspects, the author suggests that this step is not as important as some would think. It is recognized that if all the other steps are followed, search engines should, in theory index your web site. There was one exception to this theory; and that was site maps. A site map is place in a Web site’s root directory and lists the links to all the pages of your web site…allowing search engines to find all the pages and thus index your site more readily.

6. Links. With the exception of keyword use, Links tends to be the most important strategy to improve a web sites organic search results. Links from other web sites pointing to your web site factor in the organic search results. Not only are the links important but also the “value” or page rank of the pages that link to your site are important. The text describes in detail a plan of a”linking strategy”. The author points out four points of the importance of links. First, “Links make it easier for search engines to find the page. Search engines use the number of links pointing a page as an indication of the page’s value. Links provide information to search engines about the page they’re pointing to. Links not only bring searchbots to a page, but may also bring people to the page.”

7. Time. While time cannot be stopped, it is suggested that the sooner you start, the older your site is….which is important because search sites weight older sites more heavily than newer ones.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Because Web Design for Idiots was unavailable...

After about an hour of fumbling helplessly through the shelves of Barnes & Noble, I picked out Web Design for Dummies by Lisa Lopuck. The book is divided into sections that are meant to follow the basic workflow of building a website. From there, the sections are divided into chapters based on specific subjects. This format helps because the book builds on itself but remains extremely easy to navigate. If you need to re-read something, you know exactly where to find it.

As far as content goes, I don't claim to have any expertise in Web Design (I mean, look at the book I chose), but I didn't see anything that I could identify as false on the technical end of the book. Moreover, the sections that dealt with design elements (which I do know something about) were very nicely articulated and supported with appropriate images, graphs, etc. When I first started reading, I was a little afraid that it would be all theoretical information and no tech stuff, but I was pleased to find that the book contained a good mix of both disciplines.

The author's stated audience is people who have little or no experience in the area of Web Design, and are looking to become professional web designers. I thought this was pretty specific for a Dummies book, but I don't think that anything was lost in the assumption of a certain readership. I can't argue, either, that the book is definitely geared toward beginners.

Aside from the sometimes disconcerting references to the web design company that the reader is supposedly starting, I found Web Design for Dummies extremely helpful. My plan, in approaching Web Design, was to find a book that would lay out a wide scope of the field, and give me an idea of where I want/need to go deeper and learn more. I think that Web Design for Dummies has done a good job of accomplishing the first step in this plan. It is not by any means comprehensive, but it does give a beginner the lay of the land, and that is definitely important.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Truth About EMail Marketing by Simms Jenkins

I found The Truth About Email Marketing while browsing through the business section at Borders bookstore. I pulled it off the shelf to take a closer look because, quite simply, the book was sticking out a little bit, and the teal cover caught my eye. Upon scanning through the table of contents and reading Truth #1, the author, Simms Jenkins, immediately grabbed my attention in the introductory paragraph when he described how people typically rolled their eyes and made “spam” comments as soon as he told them his job involved email marketing. I would certainly have rolled my eyes about spam as well! After reading the introductory paragraph standing in the aisle at the bookstore, I decided I would give Mr. Jenkins the chance to change my mind, and I hoped to gain an understanding of his perspective upon finishing his book.

The Truth About Email Marketing is organized into what the author calls the 49 Truths of e-mail marketing. These truths are divided and grouped into 11 sections, with titles such as “The Truth About Why Email Works” and “The Truth About Measuring Email Performance.” Every “Truth” is only 2-3 pages, and this format lends itself to the reader; each “Truth” flows logically into the next, and this makes the book both a fast and an easy read.

Throughout the 200 pages, Mr. Jenkins very effectively describes: why e-mail marketing is a valuable tool; how e-mail marketing provides the highest return on investment (ROI) of all marketing strategies; how to create and grow your contact list; best practices; the truth about privacy and the CAN-SPAM act; and where e-mail marketing is headed in the future.

I would certainly recommend this book to marketing students; they could gain perspective on a new technique they may have not otherwise considered, and they can then bring that perspective to whatever new company they continue on to work for. I also recommend this book to ANYONE currently employed in a marketing position; Mr. Jenkins’ ideas are concrete, proven effective, and most importantly, they have measurable objectives. This book ‘makes the case’ for anyone on the fence about whether or not to fit an e-mail marketing campaign into their budget or to increase an existing e-mail marketing budget.