Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan

I am not sure what to write really…this book is very good and I suggest it as a must read for those who want to enter social media as an organization or a personal brand, of course. It’s full of good tips, and as with his previous one, I ended up with a copy full of notes made on the margin (with a pencil, so almost naughty of me to do;)). I also think it’s a great follow up to ‘Trust Agents’, as it puts all the more theoretical ideas into practice. Once again I had a pleasant feeling of agreeing with Chris on most of the points, and having a little bit to add at the end of each section (I like the idea of asking questions, as it makes it sound more like a student book really; it also in itself is a key point – on having to question everything ourselves).

Personally, I enjoyed reading the book simply because recently, in last 12 months really, I came to question everything I knew about social media living few smaller or bigger disappointments especially in the field of experts. As an educated teacher and specialises in communications I cannot stand bullshitter’s and words without actions – I am physically allergic to it. (it sounds horrible to say, as I am one of them when it comes to attendance at events sometimes – even though it’s due to me being a single parent working full time, I think I need to learn to manage that bit better!). I also think social media as a ‘science’ or shall I say an area of understanding is still a minefield. During almost every single event I attend in a very narrow area, really, I come across people who two, sometimes a year ago had no idea what a blog is or claimed blogging is too geeky for them – and now they give presentations on its power! And maybe I feel unfair, but it is really people who do not make a case of their experience (it’s so darn obvious anyway!) whom I appreciate and learn from the most. Going back to ‘Social Media 101’, Chris is fairly pointing out the issue giving few hints on how to find a ‘social media practitioner’ (I love and intend to use the term!):

    • A person, who knows more than one social network;
    • A person, who makes some kind of media themselves;
    • A person, who has a long experience related to social media;
    • A person, who is relatively ‘known’;
    • A person, who is ‘able to make something happen by way of the media [they] create’;
    • A person, who is transparent, open to criticism and wiling to discuss their points.

That pretty much sums it up and made me calmer, as well as more determined to look for more and more examples of social media practitioners to learn from. I myself usually check two things: via quick Google search of person’s name I look for their on-line presences (in the end we talk about on-line tools, even if combined with off-line communities), and I look for recommendations and case studies of their work. But there is also another aspect of people’s presence I tend to be tuned into – whether they call themselves specialists in the field and if so – how do they do it? You see, in my life so far, I have experienced a strong correlation between people praising their own achievements and lack of actual solutions behind those. In a way tome it’s a question of consistent message… I also experienced myself a very stunning moment, when after conscious decision to position myself as an emerging fan of social media tools in spring 2009 via my blog and other presences, I ended up discovering my fellow social media colleagues refer to me as ‘social media strategist’ (something I never actually thought off!). Interestingly enough once I dug into the whole idea of strategic thinking I came to realize that public opinion is more true than what I thought of myself (working in ethics at the time). I did not refer to my interests in strategy at all, up until the point when I felt I heard it about myself so many times, I felt the term stuck to me and actually made me happy – as I discovered I did enjoy working on strategies as opposed to tactics and it was strategic decisions of mine that  resulted in over-delivered projects. So no matter how ‘smart’ we are with our on-line positioning techniques with a bit of honesty and genuine tone we will end up re-discovering ourselves, which is why I like social media channels so much. As for social media professionals, I remain cautious and keep on reading the content of people I do trust based on what they have delivered so far – like Chris Brogan;). Do read his books! It’s worth it!

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