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Feb 14 2011

Social Nation: Developing Your Social Media Strategy

Social Nation

Recently I received a copy of a book entitled Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business. Since I speak occasionally on the topic of social media, I looked forward to reading this book and found it to be a helpful assessment of the future of social media.  Since each local church and ministry is an organization that exists to reach people, the material is pertinent to ministries even though not written specifically for them.

To kick off the book, the author, Mzinga CEO Barry Libert, explains how he moved out of an old-school business—commercial real estate—and into emerging technologies:

I was working at John Hancock, as a managing director in the firm’s real estate department.  Every day I would ride up and down the elevators in one of the tallest buildings in Boston, past all the other floors.  When I happened to ride the elevators with various Hancock executives, I would ask a few basic questions:  “Who leases from us?  What can we learn from all the people who work on each floor?  How can we learn about them about what we should do to make our services better and more comprehensive?

My questions generally would be met with blank stares.

Libert concluded that Hancock was failing to “Seize the opportunity to build a tenant nation–or a nation of residents, office occupants and retailers in which all of our tenants needs were met–and they became our loyal fans and followers.”

So Libert left the real estate industry and embarked on a mission to develop an awareness of social networking aspects of customers’ lives.  This book is the result.

The book Social Nation is essentially Libert’s advice (and those of his team, who helped write the book) to anyone wanting to understand social media, and is his roadmap to developing a “nation” of fans.  He starts with “7 Principles for Building Your Social Nation,” then proceeds to unpack each one in detail:

  1. Develop your social skills
  2. Let culture lead your way
  3. Mind your online and offline manners
  4. Monitor, measure and adopt to your community’s needs
  5. Include others in everything you do
  6. Rely on others for growth and innovation
  7. Reward others and  you will be rewarded, too

Throughout the book Libert offers examples where companies have succeeded in building a nation of followers.  Examples are given for each of four types of persona organizational strengths Libert has identified: Physical, Informational, Emotional, and Social.  Of course, “social” is the newest kid on the block when each type is reviewed throughout the context of human history.

The book wraps up with a brief guide to get started in developing a social nation, along with 10 Pitfalls to Avoid, each of which is a practical, spot-on assessment of common pitfalls he has seen and written about in the book.

There’s also a social test online available to readers at www.socialnationbook.com.  Are you an Adaptor? Architect? Collaborator? Connector? Creative Thinker? Transparent individual? Risk taker?  Visionary?  Take the test and find out–then delve into each type in the book to learn how to implement it in your business life. (According to the test, I am an Adaptor, Creative Thinker and Visionary, and most people register as a Connector, Creative Thinker and Transparent).

Readers who are well acquainted with social media may not find a great deal of ground-breaking information here, but still will benefit from the organized, practical, thought-provoking approach the book provides in pulling loads of disparate information together into one cohesive read.  Those new to social media will find a wealth of information helpful in developing and refining a social media strategy, even as the technology redefines the topic on an ongoing basis.

While many books on technology and marketing focus on trends, theory and opinion, it’s encouraging that this book is authored by someone who understands old-school business AND emerging media. Though not written for ministries, the organizational principles apply for non-profits as well as for-profits.

The only disappointing aspect of the book to report is the regrettable choice of font/typeface, making the book feel clumsy and difficult to peruse quickly for highlights.  In my view, it gives the pages the appearance of a self-published book from an earlier decade.   Nonetheless, ignore the typeface and dive deeply into the world of social media with someone who knows how to get there from where we sit today.

Is social media a fad?  No.  But what it looks like today is very different from what it looked like two years ago.  And two years from now it may well be even more different as mobile technology advances and a younger generation becomes an increasingly larger percentage of the work force.  Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business will help you refine your strategy if you have one or develop one if you don’t, and prepare you for the future in social media…whatever it is.

It’s also a good investment of time to visit the book’s website at www.SocialNationBook.com and download chapter excerpts.

Full disclosure:  The reviewer was provided with a free copy of this book by a friend who is also the author’s literary agent.

Josh Riley

Husband, father, teacher, coach, business management consultant, real estate guy, program manager, children's discipleship leader, weatherbug, writer, speaker, workshop presenter, 176 other things and founder of worship.com.

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About the author

Josh Riley

Husband, father, teacher, coach, business management consultant, real estate guy, program manager, children's discipleship leader, weatherbug, writer, speaker, workshop presenter, 176 other things and founder of worship.com.