Archive for category Book Reviews

Book Review: The Digital Mystique

Posted by on Sunday, 13 July, 2014

the-digital-mystiqueRemember that little disclaimer on the Marketing Book Reviews page that said the definition of marketing was a little loose? The The Digital Mystique by Sarah Granger is one of those.

What is the Digital Mystique About?

It’s a quick book to help you understand social media and everyday online technology. It covers the main social media networks, but also kids online, seniors online, online dating, running a business, and even social media when you pass away.

Who is the Digital Mystique For?

I think it’s clear already that this book is not for you (assuming you’re a regular Tap Dancing Spiders reader). But it is a book that you would purchase – several times. Buy it for that annoying aunt who keeps peppering you with beginner questions about Facebook. Or buy it for the grandparents wanting to chat to the grandkids online. Buy it for the parents of Tweens who think that because they don’t use social media their little darling never will.

This book covers all those demographics and more, possibly a bit too much so. It’s a little jumpy with covering so many people and this may change in the final edition. I have an unedited prerelease copy and in some parts it’s very unedited, so I’m sure there will be more changes. Get around the jumpiness by marking the chapters applicable to that recipient, and directing their reading.

Another reason why your techno-curious aunt will love this book: she’ll feel a connection with the author. Despite being active on BBSs as a young teen, social media and the technology behind it seems to still be a novelty to Sarah. The same as it is for the book’s audience.

Save yourself from the frustrating questions this Christmas and put this under the tree. In the meanwhile, if you have a NetGalley account and are curious, head over and request a prerelease copy, like the one they generously gave me in the hope of a review.

Book Review: Understanding Digital Marketing

Posted by on Thursday, 26 June, 2014

Understanding-Digital-MarketingWhen I started Understanding Digital Marketing by Damien Ryan I thought it was a text book. It has 399 pages and multiple editions. The Kindle edition was 15% in before I realized it’s a very long business book.

What makes Understanding Digital Marketing so long? It’s detailed and includes all digital marketing tools. I was surprised, but impressed by podcasts’ inclusion. This is definitely a book to teach you a lot. I was recommending it (with a caveat) before I was half-done reading it.

Who is Understanding Digital Marketing For?

In each review I decide to add structure to the flow, but then the book takes over. Once again, “Who’s it for” jumps to the start.
This a relatively junior book. It’s very tactical and even covers theories and models such as the 4Ps and a BCG grid. Both things I learned in my first semester of marketing at college. However, the information for a couple of tactics is out of date. I’ll touch on it more in the “not so good”, but … and I’m struggling here … it does need some knowledge to understand what’s current, inferring a mid-level marketer, or with at least a year or two of digital marketing experience.

The Good

The chapter on content. Really, I noted it twice. It’s practical, realistic, and includes a lot of mentions of engagement. The book is worth it for this chapter alone.
I also loved the detail. Sure, a marketer doesn’t really need to know the different web server options, but having an overview makes it easier talking with engineers. And marketers will be talking with engineers.

The case studies are also excellent. They are recent, and global.

The Not So Good

SEO. Really, that entire chapter is that bad. I don’t know Damien’s background, but whomever advised on that chapter is not an SEO expert. There have been two major Google algorithm updates in the last 18 months, and with the case studies being so recent, there’s no excuse for this chapter being at least two years old.

There are occasional other parts that are out-of-date too, thus the caveat. I recall hearing of videos in email as a hot topic last November, but it’s a no-no here.

Overall, this is a very useful book, and one I recommend as a starting point to digital marketing tools.

Book Review: The Social Media Gospel

Posted by on Sunday, 25 May, 2014

Social Media GospelAre you one of the few who still doesn’t “get” social media? Meredith Gould’s book, The Social Media Gospel will help you understand why it’s important, and gives you some tips to get started for your Church.

Meredith is a professional communicator, predominantly advising Churches and clergy on digital communications – including social media. She’s very open with her begrudging start to social media, and this is definitely a strength for The Social Media Gospel. The fact that she’s not a digital native does show all through the book. I don’t think it’s intentional. For me it’s off-putting but it will appeal to her target audience.

What’s the Social Media Gospel about? It’s a book to help you be a better digital communicator for your church. Meredith describes all the arguments churches present against using social media as a comms tool, and counters them, fairly and well-researched. She will help you understand the behaviors behind the choices, and I especially love the chapter on different learning styles and which social media platforms relate to each. Meredith doesn’t really touch on the how of social media, but is thorough on the why – sometimes when she’s trying to explain the how. It’s a good starter, to then get you looking more at the specific techniques for each platform.

There are two changes I would make to this book. One is a major one, the other a personal irritation. The major one is that the Social Media Gospel doesn’t explain that communications is all about your audience. Meridith is right with saying that you should pick and choose which social media platforms according to your time and resources; not take it all on. What she missed though is getting the reader to examine where their audience is playing. The communicator may feel more comfortable on Pinterest, but if their audience isn’t there, it’s wasted time. The second is the cheesy inclusion of scripture and praise messages. It feels a little over-the-top and unnecessary. But then again, maybe I should have expected it from a social media book with gospel in the title. Exodus 20:3-4 comes to mind. Is this book really a gospel?

Who is The Social Media Gospel for?

Clergy who are uncomfortable with social media and digital communication techniques. There are terms that make the book appear older than its 2013 publication date: web 1.0 (and subsequent generations), and age-based demographics, as well as the term digital native. It works well for the audience. Meredith originally shunned computers for anything more than word processing, and the readers who’ll get the most of out The Social Media Gospel likely did the same.

Thanks to Kerry Allman of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia for the loan of the Social Media Gospel.

Book Review: Shift Your Brilliance

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014

Now this is my type of self-help book. Last week, Simon T Bailey released his follow-up to Release Your Brilliance — Shift Your Brilliance.

To be honest, if I didn’t hear Simon speak at the American Marketing Association Leadership Conference, and receive a free copy of this book, I probably wouldn’t have read Shift Your Brilliance.

My life would have been worse for it.

You’ve read my thoughts on self-help books. I still can’t understand how anyone can think by following a script, there’s a guaranteed result. I digress, but it leads to why Shift Your Brilliance is different. Simon doesn’t tell you what to do. At one stage he even says to think INSIDE the box.

So what does Simon say?

He asks questions. He tells stories. He leads you to your own answers and actions. This is done through worksheets and quizzes mixed with anecdotes from both his experiences and those of his readers and friends. Occasionally he will add tips, but they are general, like having an accountability buddy to help you stay on track.

The goal of this book is for the reader to realize they are “O Brilliant One”. How you define that is up to you, the reader. I think that’s why I like Shift Your Brilliance. Everyone does have brilliance within, but often can’t see it. This book will walk you through looking at these issue differently to help you refind your brilliance. Thus the section on thinking inside the box.

The writing style is very conversational, making this a quick read. I had it half read by the time I got off the flight from Chicago. If I wasn’t overtired from three days at a conference and a busy few weeks beforehand, I would have finished it. That said, I didn’t do the exercises. I’m actually holding them off until a time when my brilliance is muted and I need to refocus. I didn’t learn anything new from Shift Your Brilliance or from hearing Simon speak. For me, it was a good reminder of what I need to do to keep a good attitude.

Who is Shift Your Brilliance for?

Anyone who’s feeling a bit trapped or despondent. This could be work, or life, or relationships, anything. Simon will take you through a self-evaluation to encourage you to look at the situation differently and help you decide how to act. Hands up if you’ve never needed that kind of help. No one? I thought so.

I’m already making a list of who I need to buy this book for, because I’m not giving up my copy. And if you ever get the chance to hear Simon present – go for it! You’ll be energized from his interactive presentation and amazing laugh.

As mentioned, Shift Your Brilliance was a gift from the American Marketing Association. They didn’t ask for a review, and these are my thoughts.

Book Review: Things A Little Bird Told Me

Posted by on Saturday, 10 May, 2014
  • Things-A-Little-Bird-Told-MeMemoir, not a business book
  • Other founders tell it differently
  • Why the philosophical chapter at the end?
  • Biz and I are very similar

Sometimes I can jump straight into a review. Other times I collate my notes and seek an angle. For Things a Little Bird Told Me by Twitter cofounder, Biz Stone, you get both. Those four points are my abridged notes.

This is a needed account of this time. It’s a memoir. What other point in history will have the right conditions to build a website that lets you broadcast your lunch (or as Evanna Lynch put it, pooping) in under 140 characters and make the company worth billions? Or as Biz and team were told, it’s the Seinfeld of the internet. For that, we need this book.

From looking at the GoodReads reviews, many will ask why we need Biz Stone’s view. This version of events has been disputed, but it’s a memoir. Communication theory shows that giving two people an identical message will have two outcomes. I’d love to read Hatching Twitter, but just remember these are Biz Stone’s experiences.

To be honest, there’s nothing special about this book. A telling of experiences with the stock standard “meaning of life” chapter at the end. This is the only chapter that starts to feel business booky, and one that, to me, screams “I’m a terrible person, but I’ve done these great things”. They are great things, and excellent charities to support, but the chapter comes across insecure and inconsistent with the boy who declared a no homework policy in school and broke into the dance.

Hmm, the last point. Biz Stone and I are very similar. We are. We both do things because we can. We take chances. We end up with huge credit card debts. I think that’s why I enjoyed Things A Little Bird Told Me so much. I can relate to Biz and his struggles. Also, I lived in San Francisco early 2010, so some of his life is my life too.

Who Is Things a Little Bird Told Me for?

Everyone really. Biz has written an enjoyable, easy read of his early career. There are things to learn, but it’s learning from Biz’s experiences, not from his instruction.

Check it out and let me know if you agree.

Book courtesy of NetGalley. They don’t ask to control my reviews and know they can’t.