Rawn Shah has written a well-researched and thorough examination of online social networking as it relates to business: Social Networking for Business: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs.
Shah examines some aspects of social networking that we don’t always think about. For example, it’s possible to use social networks as personal, non-social experiences, as limited social networks, as community experiences, as group collaborations, or in a variety of other ways. Social networks have a variety of possible leadership models, whether they are collaborative environments like Google Docs and Basecamp or public networks like Xing and Jigsaw. Recruiting members and evangelists to a newly-designed social network (your company’s Facebook page or your new membership-only forum, for example) has multiple potential points of failure.
My sense is that these decisions tend to be made on the basis of personal preferences or gut feelings. Reading through Shah’s analysis can give you a better sense of the possible consequences of these choices — and therefore can give you a better chance of making a data-driven choice.
This may be the rub, though — are you going to read this book? This isn’t necessarily a fun read. There aren’t any pictures, though there certainly are charts. There are no cartoons.
I’m not trying to talk down to my readers, here. I just don’t want you to think this book is going to give you quick tips on how to improve your business results at Twitter.
Here’s who should read this book:
- People who want to understand the nature and behavior of social networks fully in order to make the best possible decisions about how to use them. If “What the heck? Let’s give it a shot!” just isn’t your management style, this book gives you hard-to-find details and metrics to consider.
- People who want to have strong data in order to persuade management to finance social media campaigns. Analyses of how NASA and Disney have leveraged social media can be persuasive to people who really don’t see the point of Twittter.
- People who really love data and analysis. I’m one of those people, and I enjoy delving into the development of altruistic behavior as evidence of leadership in social network tasks. If you relate to this, then this book will be more satisfying to you than the lighter approaches.
If you’ve been looking for a book on social networking for business, and this one sounds too intense for you, consider Steve Weber’s Plug Your Business! , a less theoretical but still thorough treatment of the subject.