When you think of GM, what do you think of? The folks in Detroit probably hope your answer is, “Wow, what an amazing comeback!” But more likely than not, your blink reaction is, “Oh yeah – Government Motors.” As General Motors declared bankruptcy and the world seemed like it was going to end, at least so far as the American auto industry was concerned, there were people working in the world of social media to try to preserve any positive opinions about the company that could be mustered. One of those people was Christopher Barger.
So when I tell you that Barger has written a book pulling largely from his experiences in the “war room” during the time of GM’s meltdown, you can understand right off the bat that barring anything else, this is going to be a book that is authored by someone who is not blowing smoke.
Who is this book is for?
In the introduction, Barger notes that this book is for people who work within large companies or who consult with very large companies. Because his experience has been with IBM and GM and because his advice is presented through that prism, that makes sense. However, I have to tell you that this book provides valuable insight into the online world and its relationship with business no matter what the size of your company. Working backwards from the final chapter, which details how Barger and his team handled the online world during the week after the bankruptcy announcement, you see how all of the following are integral to business and social media success:
• Understanding the real importance of numbers in the online world
• Having a corporate policy about social media usage that absolutely everybody understands
• If your company is large enough to require a legal team for a lot of work, the importance of integrating them into your work
• The importance of having a point person in the company for social media as well as the “evangelist” or social media face of the company (and what both positions involve)
• Best practices for reaching out to bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers
• How to handle the online crisis-again, knowing that Barger and his team actually made it through a meltdown crisis gives loads of credibility to this section
Apart from all of the usefulness, the great thing about the book is the way that Barger uses analogies to clarify his points. From the movie Bull Durham to the book Moneyball (and many more), Barger finds a way to make complex concepts seem 100% easy to understand and accessible. He does not present himself as the living deity of the online world but rather writes like a friend would write to a friend or like a mentor would write to a mentee (or a manatee?). The goal is clearly to educate, not to say, “Gee I’m so darned smart.” And I like that kind of tonality an awful lot.
Building your library
Reading Social Media Strategist called to mind other books I’ve read recently that I think could create a well-rounded, really useful, really important social media library for business people learning how to use social media as a tool (rather than a silver bullet). Here’s how I see it (and none of these are affiliate links):
• To expand on the facets of creating a culture from the ground up, The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund is fun, informative, and offers real-world examples.
• To expand on how to create unforgettable experiences for your customers (existing or potential), Lou Imbriano’s Winning the Customer is a fantastic read.
• To expand on how to manage your social media campaigns and how to calculate the really important numbers (like ROI, which does exist), nothing beats Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI (Barger suggests you read it too, so now you really have no choice!)
• And finally, to look at all of this beyond the business realm into non-for-profits and society at large, Geoff Livingston’s Welcome to the Fifth Estate is a refreshing and powerful read.
If you read these books around the same time, you will see how you can create a powerful social media presence for your company while managing all of the details effectively and while making sure your company isn’t bleeding money to make it happen.
Image of Christopher Barger with his friend/arch-nemesis Scott Monty by CC Chapman: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cc_chapman/3366387511/ via Creative Commons