Chris Brogan’s Social Media 101 – A Book Review


“Because I didn’t write the book you expected, I thought I’d present you with this book. This book is all about social media”.

These are some of the opening lines from Chris Brogan’s new book entitled “Social Media 101”. If you have already read his last book Trust Agents, you will already be familiar with Brogan’s style – people who put a human face to organisations through the use of social tools.

If you have been reading Brogan’s blog or at least following him on Twitter, many of themes in the book will already be familiar to you. In fact, the book is a collection of 87 of his finest blog posts (edited and updated) and neatly bound into a small book. But don’t that put you off! Brogan adds his own real life experiences to each chapter, and as you become absorbed through the pages, you will gain some excellent insights from his career. Also, make sure you have a notepad and pen handy, because you will end up making a lot of notes. There are also a great number of footnotes in the book too, so plan some time to investigate the resources and links, as these will help you to assemble your very own social media master class.

There are two different types of reading styles for this book. You can either sit down and read the entire book from page to page. Or, you can treat the book as a reference guide, and pick out the chapters that sound the most appealing to you. This is certainly a book to have close by, when you are devising your own social or community strategy. Or, for those moments, when you wonder , “What Would Chris Brogan Do?”.

Social Media 101 may be a little book in size, but it is certainly big on ideas. “Social media lets you go wide, but YOU have to make it go deep” Brogan says. This is certainly true and the book takes the reader beyond “branded social sites” such as Facebook and Twitter. It opens the reader’s mind to explore a wide variety of rich media technologies such as audio, video, media hosting, blogs, listening tools, document sharing and collaboration sites to name but a few. These can all help as effective lead-generation tools. Most of the chapters are full of useful hints and tips such as 50 ways, 50 steps 100 tactics etc.

While I did receive a review copy, courtesy of the great team at @Wiley Books, it’s a book that I would have bought regardless. Frankly, I enjoyed the book because I am not going to read 80+ blog posts on a computer. I spend far too much time in front of an LCD screen anyway! Brogan carefully selected his best posts, added great references and produced a little book easily worth its weight in gold. While you can get most of the content for free, Social Media 101 is money well spent.

With thanks to Julia Lampam at Wiley books for the review copy.

Buy Chris Brogan’s Social Media 101 from Amazon here.

5 Social Media Lessons…

5 of this year’s great Social Media Books via Mashable, books definitely worth investing in.

Chris Anderson Experiments with the Free/Freemium Model

Wired’s Chris Anderson talks about his new book and the various methods of how he is making it available for free, versus the ‘freemium’ model.  Since, I prefer the written word, I actually bought it from Amazon. A book review will be posted soon. In the meantime, you can download a free audiobook version below:

Click here to download the unabridged audiobook of Free: The Future of a Radical Price for ‘free’


[Bonus] Listen to Chris Anderson’s talk at the RSA in London

Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity– A Book Review


Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity is based upon the hugely successful, Change This Manifesto, entitled “How to be Creative”. Building upon his earlier work, Hugh MacLeod brings together his collective wisdom of thoughts on creativity.

As Steve Clayton describes, there are a number of stand our chapters in this book. In particular, the following chapters stood out for me: 

Chapter 8 “Keep your day job” with the excellent description of Hugh’s Sex and Cash Theory.

Chapter 11, “The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props”. This chapter serves to remind us that the tools aren’t important. True creativity comes from within, regardless of the tools used.

Chapter 3 “Put The Hours In” stuck a particular chord, where Hugh states “Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina”.

And Chapter 18, “Merit can be bought, Passion can’t”. In this chapter, Hugh states that: “The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does”.

Absolutely. Sometimes, being passionate about something and wanting to change things is great. However, it is important to remember that not everyone may feel the same way.

Overall, the book is an easy read, with Hugh’s unique blend of wit, genius and dark humour. Though his cartoons have been available on Gaping Void for years. It is a real treat to finally have some of them available in book form.


Ignore Everybody is a book that can be summed up with one of Hugh’s own cartoons (see above). It enriches your understanding on ways that creativity can prosper. Whilst at the same time Hugh simplifies the process, with tales from his own experiences.

I wouldn’t just recommend this book for people seeking new ways to be creative. This is a book I would thoroughly recommend for mums, dads, friends, lovers, co-workers and neighbours. Ignore Everybody is a book for everyone. We all display creativity in our everyday lives and Hugh’s book helps us to remain focused.  A common sense book for modern times.

If you want to get a flavour for the book, sample chapters are available here.

Ignore Everybody is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be published by Portfolio on June 11, 2009.

With thanks to Maureen at Penguin Books for the advance copy of this book.

Click – A Book Review


“Click” follows in the tradition of books by Malcolm Gladwell and the authors of “Freakonomics”, by analysing modern day trends and extracting meaning behind society’s behaviour through the use of data and statistics. There a number of different topics discussed in the book ranging from porn and fashion to phobias and rock bands. In that respect it’s readable by anyone who uses the internet and wonders what we – the collective "we" are doing online. The uniqueness of the book is that Tancer’s findings are based upon search engine data and all of his conclusions are drawn from how people spend their time on the internet. He is well known for telling his audiences, “I love data”. In fact, it’s a clever plug for his Hitwise blog,

The downside of the book is that Tancer covers a lot of ground, he also chooses to focus on very specific examples and doesn’t always provide enough of the bigger picture. Overall though, I enjoyed “Click” and would recommend it for anyone who is curious about how online data can teach us about our society as a whole and in some cases why it fails to lead to accurate conclusions.

Click is published by Harper Collins and is available from Amazon by clicking here.

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No bull shiitake! It’s time for a Reality Check – A Book Review

Penguin Books recently sent me a review copy of Guy Kawasaki’s new book,  “Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition”

Interestingly, the book contains two forewords. The first forward is penned by Dan Lyons and the second by Dan’s alter ego, the fake Steve Jobs. Lyons presents a touching piece only to be balanced out by the cynical, “Fake Steve”. Nevertheless, it left me laughing as I ventured on to the Reality Check journey. 

For long-time readers of Guy’s blog, the book is essentially a collection of a series of ongoing blog posts. As Guy himself writes:

I wanted to provide hardcore information to hardcore people who want to kick ass, and I wanted this information in something you can hold in your hands – aka, a book. Why? Because a book boots up faster than a blog and a book has better copy editing and fact checking than a blog….”

However, the book adds significant value in that it is portable “just about” – You can take the book anywhere and everywhere. Though, I must exercise caution. I found myself completely engrossed in the book. I had trouble putting it down, seriously. 

It is the reader’s prerogative to have at least some criticisms and I share mine with you below. The book is big, I mean 94 chapters and 461 pages of content. Now, before you start to get put off, the content is superb. Guy, offers a book brimmed full of two words, “practical advice.” Chapters are short, some range from 2-3 pages. Others range 6-7. However, I wish the book had been split into 2 books, Volumes 1 and 2, just for portability. 

Despite the size, the book appeals to me on so many levels. Firstly, the book is written in the style of a conversation with the reader left wanting to talk to someone to discuss the content. Secondly, the book is organised  by topic and presents a logical natural  flow, from beginning to end. Though, personally, I jumped around from chapter to chapter. You can distil Guy’s wisdom quickly, as each chapter should take no more than 1-2 minutes to read.

The book contains sections on Marketing, PR, Customer Service, Innovation, Planning, Schmoozing and Hiring and Firing. There is a slant towards lessons that Guy has learned from Silicon Valley. However, the advice is prevalent no matter where you are in the world.

Section outlines:

The Reality of Starting

The Reality of Raising Money

The Reality of Planning and Executing

The Reality of Innovating

The Reality of Marketing

The Reality of Competing

The Reality of Hiring and Firing

The Reality of Working

The Reality of Doing Good.

Guy’s famous 10/20/30 rule of presenting,  is well emphasised. So, it is 10 slides + 1 that contains your contact information, 20 minutes of presentation and 30-point font.

I also checked my EQ (Entrepreneurial Quotient) within the book and scored 15 out of 22 (not too bad).

You know just enough to know what you don’t know. If you’ve got the passion for
entrepreneurship,  you’ve ready to roll

"The Reality of Doing Good"

The final section of this book explains the reality of doing good. As Guy states:

It’s included because I believe that at the end of one’s life, you are measured
not by how much money you made, how many houses you own, or even how many books you wrote. Instead, you are measured by how much you’ve made the world a better place”

If you subscribe to the mantra of “Changing The World” by doing good things. Whether through business or dealings with people around you. you will surely appreciate the final section of the book. 

Overall, I found the book highly inspiring and entertaining. The great thing is that you don’t need to be and entrepreneur or a start-up founder to enjoy it. Whether, you are a manager, an employee, a CEO, or a university student. There is something in this book for everyone.  In fact, Reality Check should be handed to every college student in the land who completes a degree or drops out.  Guy successfully takes his experiences from the 20th Century and presents them in a compelling way for the 21st.

To conclude,  if you are left wondering whether you buy Reality Check? Let me answer this question for you. Pre-order it from Amazon for yourself. Then, buy additional copies for people in your life. They will thank you for it.


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Seth Godin’s Tribes – A Book Review


Tribes is the newest addition to Seth Godin’s ongoing work of easily readable ideas on "Changing The World". Godin uses a number of real world examples and a number of short stories to underpin the ideas within Tribes.  There is nothing in the book, that many of us don’t already know, at least on a subconscious level.  In certain situations, we must find the initiative to lead. Many of us lead tribes, even if we don’t always see it that way.

The book begs the reader into thinking about how we can all challenge the status quo. Both, in our everyday personal and professional lives by taking the lead. Godin is a master at dusting off conventional concepts and presenting them in an enlightening and refreshing new way. He demonstrates the importance of not only leading a tribe of followers, but also nurturing the relationships within it. One of the most powerful aspects of the book is how it is written to speak directly to the reader.

Tribes, is not written as a conventional book with chapters. The book is written more in the style of a conversation, resulting from ideas and conversations from Godin’s blog. The book is a essentially a collection of those thoughts, presented beautifully in print. The book is a quick read and does inspire the reader to look at ways where he/she can make a real difference and empower groups of people.

Controversially, Godin describes most people within organisations as "sheepwalkers," those who "have been raised to be obedient" and those that are comfortable "with brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep in line." For at least a few, leadership brings empowerment and brings opportunities to challenge traditional ways of doing things for the better.

There is a feeling that Godin is in fear. Fear of a world without "everyday" leaders who continue to change things for the better. These everyday leaders are not big CEO’s, but rather people like you and me. The book is indeed a call to action.
Godin cites five different reasons as to why people should look for everyday opportunities to lead:

1. "Everyone in an organisation, not just the boss is expected to lead".
2. [Today] "it’s easier than ever before to change things [and] individuals have more leverage than ever before". Especially, with tools such as Facebook and Twitter
3. Individuals, and their organisations that "change things and create remarkable products and services" are rewarded in the marketplace.
4. Change is a catalyst and can empower each of us to do something truly remarkable. It is "engaging, thrilling, profitable and fun,".
5. Finally, there is a "tribe" of other people waiting for a leader, "to connect them to one another and lead them where they want to go."

Godin states that, great leaders "create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate". They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow."  Powerful leaders connect members of a tribe by a common interest (e.g. by sharing a passionate goal), and a determination to create things that did not exist before.

Don’t be fooled into thinking, Tribes is a technical manual, or a practical step-by-step guide. Because while it encourages you to "lead", it doesn’t go into specifics, (which is a good thing). Godin challenges the reader to accept full responsibility for becoming a tribal leader.

"No one gives you permission or approval or a permit to lead, You can just do it. The only one who can say no is you."

Critics may argues that the book lacks "concrete data". However, long time Seth Godin readers will understand that his books are a presentation of ideas. Ideas that spread and win. Tribes is no different. The book could also be criticised for being too short. However,  it is extremely well written and in my opinion the right size for the material it covers.

After reading the book, I was left thinking that Tribes was Volume 1. Certainly, another book could soon be followed up. For example, what effects are realised, when tribes collaborate with other tribes forming a "Super Tribe"?  Or, what does the leader do when his role is challenged within the tribe?

It’s hard to escape the religious metaphors in the book. References to "heretics" and "fundamentalists" echo throughout. In centuries passed, heretics were burned for their religious views. However, in Godin’s 21st Century world, heretics may just be the ones that save us from an unremarkable world.

Overall, Tribes is an inspiring read and well worth adding to your Seth Godin collection!  Get your copy of Tribes from Amazon


Seth was kind enough to answer my three quick questions below:

Q.  What inspired you to write Tribes?

A. I see a world where just about everyone is pushed to conform, to fit in, to do what we’re told. A workforce filled with sheepwalkers… at the same time, I see people desperately in search of leadership, eager to be connected and to matter. I was hoping to point those two things out and encourage people to take a breath and lead.

Q.  How does Seth Godin spend his day?

A. I write, answer email, bother people, notice things, and run my company, and my closed online site, triiiibes.

Q.  For readers who haven’t read Tribes, can you explain the general themes of the book and why you think everyone should buy it?

A. The best thing to do is visit and see what other people had to say!

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Personality Not Included – A Book Review


“The moment that organisations lose  their personality is when their employees become “people” rather than individuals…”.

As many of my readers and friends know. I’m very much in touch with the “human side of business”, especially forming a connection with people. Revealing, the honest, sincere and human side of your business to your customers has repeatedly proved to be a good thing. It’s the key to delighting them and making sure they stay with us for a very long time.

Rohit Bhargava as an author is right up there with the likes of Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki. Why? Because he tells it like it is. Jargon is left at the door and the book uses great worldwide examples of excellent personality branding. It’s nice to see an American author who shows a refreshing awareness that we all don’t live in America!

Wow. I must admit, Rohit actually had me at “hello” with this book. The book brings together, my own personal experiences of business differentiation. Learning, from companies such as Moo and Innocent Drinks (Also mentioned in the book). Rohit did an excellent job of drawing me in with his great writing style and a clear passion for the subject.

Throughout the book he provides many examples of businesses which are successfully using the techniques within the book. The case studies were almost enough to sell me the book alone. However, learning about each technique and then being given an interesting and detailed example of how each idea can be implemented in real life was fantastic. It was was great to see Steve, Hugh and the Blue Monster also getting a mention – Rock On!

Personality Not Included successfully leads the reader through the process of building a company personality. Rohit’s approach impressed me in a number of ways. Firstly he outlined all the key elements. I especially liked his “UAT Filter“- the three core qualities of a company personality:

  1. Unique
  2. Authentic
  3. Talkable

Spot on. Secondly, he presented great examples from several companies for each element.

As I finished reading Part 1, Rohit did something that many marketing writers do not usually do. He wrote a “Part 2?. The second part of the book focuses on how to put the discussion in Part 1 into action. To further guide the reader through the process, Rohit provides a number of tools and frameworks to help. The book is broken down into the following chapters:

Part One

Chapter 1 – Faceless used to work because big meant credible. This is no longer true

Chapter 2 – Accidental spokespeople are speaking for your brand – Embrace them

Chapter 3Uniqueness plus Authenticity plus Talkability equals personality. Use the UAT Filter

Chapter 4 – Backstories establish a foundation of credibility. You need onq.

Chapter 5 – Fear of change leads to barriers. Finding your authority overcomes them

Chapter 6 – Personality moments are everywhere and unexpected, but you must spot them

Part Two – (Putting Personality into Action)

• New Styles of Marketing (Ten Techniques are Described in Detail)
• Taking Theory Further (Tools and Guides to Accompany Chapters 1 – 6)

The key theme from the first half of the book is that personality matters, because it is the element of your brand that inspires loyalty more than any product feature or element of your service ever can.

Rohit reminds the reader, that consumers aren’t just buying a product or service from you. They are buying “into” a whole experience. If they find the experience positive, they are very likely to purchase again, and/or recommend your business to others. As a text book, Personality not Included could also be used to boost your own “Personal Branding”.

If you love Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki then you’ll love Rohit Bhargava. If you are looking for a refreshing and up-to-the-minute business read, then you could do no better.

To conclude, Bhargava’s marketing experiences with the world’s leading companies has produced the definitive book that explains “Personality Branding”, in a practical, understandable and actionable way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for any entrepreneur, business person, or anyone who wants to better understand how ‘personality’ can impact a business.

If you are interested in learning more about this book, download the book’s intro. Or, purchase online from Amazon.

The Power of Tweeting


It’s no secret but I love Twitter. It has become my number two source of information, (number one being Google Reader) of conversations occurring within the blogosphere.

I regularly receive comments from friends, (some of which blog) who just don’t understand Twitter. It can be hard to explain the benefits to someone who has never used it. So, I’m often looking for examples to help explain how useful the tool could prove. Last night, a great example presented itself.

I read a blog post from Steve recommending Rohit Bhargava’s new book, "Personality not included”. I ordered the book on Amazon and it arrived yesterday. As you can read from my Twitter tweets above. I mentioned I was going to read the book. I was more than a little surprised that Rohit had not only seen my tweet about his book. But he also sent me a message!

Wow. An immediate ad hoc engagement! I wasn’t expecting the author to reach out to me in this compelling way.  I am now following Rohit on Twitter and likewise he is following me. As I gain and post insights from the book on Twitter. It will be interesting to see not only Rohit’s reactions, but also from fellow Twitter users. 

I’m guessing that Rohit is either using Tweetscan or Summize to search for terms relating to him or his book. I love the fact that he is taking the time to engage with people on a personal level.

Book Review: Groundswell – Winning in a world transformed by social technologies.

For many businesses who have still yet to venture into the world of social media. “Groundswell” is a must read. The book cites a number of case studies which illustrate how companies are gaining insights, increasing revenues, lowering costs and engaging their customers within today’s Web 2.0 world.

Forrester analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff have produced the most up-to-book on the subject and present their findings in a clear and easy to understand format. Both demonstrate their expertise as analysts and writers and provide numerous data examples throughout the book.

What is a Groundswell?

Charlene and Josh define the Groundswell as:

“…a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions”.


The authors discuss why it important to participate in the “Groundswell” and why the “Groundswell” is happening now. The book begins with an overview into what “social media” actually is, and discusses many of the successes and the pitfalls that a company can go through during its journey. The book then offers steps that a business should follow to implement a successful social media strategy.

The book essentially examines how such tools threaten institutional power, and how individuals can use them to empower themselves and their businesses.

Many businesses foolishly believe that participating in social media is as simple as creating a blog, or being active in Facebook. Groundswell does a great job at explaining that creating a successful social media strategy is probably one of the most difficult things that a business can do and takes time and commitment

Hopefully by reading this book the business person will be well on their way to mastering the new dynamics of social media.

Truly, a well presented and written book that is a must read for anyone who wants to learn and utilise Internet marketing, as it exists today and will exist tomorrow.

So much so, I would say this is the most important book to be released since The Cluetrain Manifesto and Naked Conversations.

Buy it!