Posts Tagged Book Reviews

Book Review: We Are All Weird

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 November, 2014

we_are_all_weirdI like this time when things are slow enough to start demolishing my To Read tower. That’s why I’ve just read a book from 2011 – We Are All Weird by Seth Godin.

Like all of Seth’s work, it’s a quick, light read, while challenging the status quo. Any good marketer has already moved beyond mass advertising, and onto “weird”. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many good marketers.

In this book, Seth gives some colorful examples to show that we now need to target tribes, and markets have shrunk to become more discerning. He takes the standard market bell curve and shows how since 1977 the curve has flattened as more “weird” or non-normal customers have changed the distribution. While reading this, I wondered if the curve has changed or if we just need to acknowledge multiples “normals”.

normal bell curve

He uses the term weird to define anything different from the typical normal. Remember those days when we actually watched television on a TV, and on the station’s schedule? That’s normal. Normal is rushing to the mall from Thanksgiving dinner to ensure you get the best deals because we’ve been conditioned to do so. This is the kind of behavior that we, as marketers, have grown to love. It’s predictable. It’s reliable. It’s now also dying.

Amusingly, in We Are All Weird, Seth does the ultimate “normal” thing for business book authors. The last chapter is the ranty, soapbox chapter that doesn’t seem to fit, but authors seem to insist on. I only skimmed it. It added new ideas when the book was concluding, but didn’t add value. You can skip it.

I do love the use of a traditional theory to show why we need to change our thinking, and even three years later in a fast-paced industry not enough have got the message.

Who Is We Are All Weird For?

Probably not for social media marketers, because that’s a group that understands how targeting and human behavior has changed. This book would help traditional advertisers, and those doing marketing but either hasn’t got a marketing degree or has studied marketing. An hour reading will help them understand the underlying theory.

We Are All Weird is another book confirming my marketing ideologies, and I think I need to break from that. If anyone can recommend any good marketing books that will challenge my worldview, please let me know.

Book Review: The Art of Social Media

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 November, 2014

The-Art-of-Social-MediaPeople ask why I read social media books when it’s my life. It’s because 1. there’s always something to learn, and 2. when there’s so much going on, reminding me of some tactic or site is always appreciated. The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick is both of these.

This is Guy’s 12th book, and first collaboration with Peg. And I like the collaboration. Wait a sec, I’ve been writing so many positive reviews that it’s even sounding fake to me. I am actually more selective with which books I accept and have to admit I pounced on this via NetGalley before the Penguin rep offered it to me. I can see others will criticize The Art of Social Media and, to be honest, I can’t wait. This is not a book for beginners, and the authors don’t pull any punches. Guy’s snarky arrogance that we saw in The Macintosh Way is definitely back. People will take offense, but they probably buy Twitter followers anyway. Or maybe I’m just bias because I agree with all Guy and Peg’s tips in those sections.

What Do Guy and Peg Cover in The Art of Social Media?

They cover a lot of tips of optimizing your social media life. I say life because there are tips for your profiles, but also how you use them. There’s the recommendation to use an incognito window to test how followers will see your posts. also the reminder to remain positive and to only go three rounds in a dispute. I ended up making a to-do list for myself. They also look at optimizing your blog, so half of my list is for Tap Dancing Spiders. I have pages of notes, but if I include them all I’ll be sued for plagiarism. You’ll have to buy the book for more. It’s out of December 4.

Despite the arrogance, Guy and Peg fully acknowledge their resources, and most were people. Hat tips are throughout the book, but what do you expect from the man who built community for Apple? Even more contributor names are in the acknowledgments.

Who is The Art of Social Media For?

Not beginners, that’s for sure. While they do give some basics, it’s more optimizing than creating. They assume that you’re already active on social media.

Check it out December 4, and Guy, have another look at Hootsuite. Hootlet and Suggestions can decrease how many apps you use.

Book Review: Standing Out in a Popular Blogging Niche

Posted by on Thursday, 13 November, 2014

Standing-Out-In-A-Popular-Blogging-NicheI first heard Kimberly Gauthier speak at WordCamp Seattle this year. Unfortunately I was the photographer for the day, so couldn’t stay for all her presentation. Thus, I was eager to read her book, Standing Out in a Popular Blogging Niche. I wasn’t disappointed.

While knowledgeable on the  technical side of WordPress, this book is more strategy and promotion. Kimberly uses her own experiences with Keep the Tail Wagging – her own blog – to take the reader through building their own successful blog. I love that she includes goal setting straight out, and also finding your blog’s voice. Very useful things and ones often overlooked. as I mentioned, Kimberly uses her own experiences and shares her learnings. To show there is no magic number of posts per week, she shares how she started with 5-6, but has dropped it back this year to concentrate on other aspects of the blog. To discuss time management (another overlooked aspect of blogging), she lists her responsibilities.

I think my favorite chapter is the monetization discussion. Let’s be honest, blogs cost time and a little bit of money. And we always feel special when brands send us product. Read this for a reminder to stay true to your brand’s voice and honor your audience. She also gives a detailed account of disclosure requirements to avoid getting a nasty call from the FTC. Oh, and the dealing with conflict discussion is a must-read.

Technical tactics haven’t been totally left out. I’ve just added Tweet Old Posts (not called Revive Old Posts) plug-in to Tap Dancing Spiders, on Kimberly’s inclusion. Check out the bonus tips at the end.

The formatting is a little messy in parts. Most of my Kindle books are eARCs, so I’m not sure if it’s a Kindle thing. It’s just a little off-putting.

Who is Standing Out in a Popular Blogging Niche for?

This book is for anyone starting a blog, or already running one. TDS is now seven years old and I’ve learned from Standing Out in a Popular Blogging Niche. I’ve moved through three different voices, and this book would have helped me focus all those years ago.

Kimberly Gauthier is speaking at our #HootupSEA event next week for Hootsuite. If you’re in Seattle’s U District on Wednesday evening, we’d love to see you at the free event, So you want to be a Blogger.

Book Review: The Little Book of Big PR

Posted by on Sunday, 9 November, 2014

The-Little-Book-of-big-PRYou’ve gone freelance or launched a business, now what? The Little Book of Big PR by Jennefer Witter is what.

This little, 130 page, book is filled with practical public relations tips that you can implement today and get results. Literally, there are 121 numbered tips and few bonus ones thrown in too.

What Will The Little Book of Big PR Teach Me?

You’ll learn what personal branding is, and why it’s important. Jennefer breaks it into chunks of media relations, social media, networking, speaking engagements, and cause-related marketing. Each chapter ends with a related case study pulled from the Borland (Jennefer’s company) archive. I’m not sure how I feel about this. While it’s good to see the practical advice being implemented, external case studies could be more relatable.

It’s some of the bonus tips that give context to the 121 official tips that make this book extra useful. I love the personal branding audit in the first chapter. The book is also very practical: social media results don’t happen overnight. The final chapter discusses working with a PR agency, and I especially love the ego deflating. No matter how good your agency is, chances are you’re not Oprah story-worthy.

Who is The Little Book of Big PR For?

The intended audience for this book is entrepreneurs, freelancers and sole proprietors. The wording used definitely points this way, but I would expand the audience. This is the best book on personal branding I have read. OK, they’re generally in the self-help genre and we know my thoughts on that genre, but it would be remiss to ignore this book. Personal branding is important  for everyone’s career. It doesn’t matter how talented or accomplished you are if no one knows your name. Stepping off the soap box now.

I recommend The Little Book of Big PR to all wanting a promotion, new job or career-change, as well as the intended audience. Oh, and if you’re creative you’ll get PR tips for your brand too.

Addendum: I just saw that The Little Book of Big PR is one of the Amazon Editors’ Favorite Books of the Year. They have good taste.

Book Review: The Business of Winning

Posted by on Tuesday, 28 October, 2014

the-business-of-winningThe Business of Winning by Mark Gallagher is probably the business book I need to defend reviewing the most. It was also the most fun to read. Little known fact, I used to be a massive Formula 1 fan. Even beating the boys in a F1 tipping contest. Unfortunately Australian timezones aren’t conducive to watching races at midnight and holding down a day job. A move to the States didn’t really help either.

Back to The Business of Winning. I pounced on this when it came on NetGalley. Mark Gallagher started off as a reporter covering Formula 1 before moving into PR and comms, before executive management. His 30 year career means he worked with the greats of Ayrton Senna, Murray Walker, Damon Hill, and a fanboy of Michael Schumacher. Shush, I still have a little bit of a crush on Jacques Villeneuve. Schumi favoritism sticks out.

I’m getting off track. Hey, I did warn it was a fun read. This book is actually a hard one to review as a business book. Yes, it’s filled with real examples of the need for communications, and branding and innovation, however it’s much much more than that. It’s probably about 80% memoir and 20% business book. That mix will, unfortunately, be a hindrance to mainstream success. It will definitely limit the audience.

Each chapter has a different focus: leadership, brand, performance management. It’s a chapter of themed memoirs, with bullet points at the end linking the memoirs back to lessons learned. Sometimes I had a little trouble recalling the focus for the chapter, but I did read an unedited proof (thus messy formatting) and was spasmodically reading in between school for the semester and starting a new main gig.

The memoirs and examples are brilliant. Really, I would read this just as a memoir. I loved hearing the behind the scenes of races I watched, and hearing the paddock gossip. It is naturally very Jordan heavy; that’s where Mark spent most of his career. This was also the racing era when I was following, so I loved it for that.

Who is The Business of Winning for?

It’s for F1 fans in business. I’m not sure there’s enough business for anyone else. It’ll be more useful and successful in Europe where there is a decent F1 following. I accept that Seattle won’t get a signing. Darn.

Buy it, read The Business of Winning and tell me if you agree.

And Mark, if you write a book about the time Eddie Irvine was renting your room, I’m buying multiple copies.