First the early adopters, then the kids, then everyone you know, finally businesses. Isn't that the usual spread pattern of a new technology? PCs, email, instant messaging and now social media have all been picked up by businesses as employees are increasingly expected to have available the tools they're used to working with.
In Enterprise Social Technology, serial entrepreneur and consultant Scott Klososky (and the crowd who helped him source the book) aims to help businesses understand how to use social media to make a real difference to their businesses.
"I want to move the discussion beyond whether the CEO should be tweeting or the organisation developing a Facebook fan page", he writes in the introduction. Well, good: there's no point in starting these things just to look fashionable and then not having systems in place to support them. What could make a business look stupider than a Facebook page that has the corporate logo and a bunch of bumf — but hasn't been updated since the first two posts were uploaded six months ago?
Intent on taking — and expanding upon — his own advice, Klososky 'crowdsourced' this book: he wrote a detailed outline, posted it online, and then, from the assembled hordes at CrowdSpring, picked three potential writers for each chapter. Klososky and his editor then picked the version they liked best and assembled the book from these chapters, along with the first and last sections that Klososky wrote himself. Each then edited the whole book. They also crowdsourced the cover design and the publicity plan, suggestions for which they include at the end of the book. (No mention is made of ZDNet UK in the plan; we heard about the book by the usual route of being sent a press release.)
Much of the advice in this book is common sense: don't overdo the advertising; think out which services you want to use; make sure they feed into your web site; devise measures of success in advance so you can tell accurately how well the campaign is doing at meeting your business goals. You can have 3.7 million Twitter followers, but if none of them become customers, what's the point? It's important, Klososky says, to understand why you're doing things, not just how. Along the way, he cites plenty of detailed examples of the way various companies — including Intel, Pampers and United Airlines — have managed the same issues. Later chapters also discuss issues of security, reputation and developing pilot projects, and make some predictions.
One of these predictions is Klososky's conviction that ratings systems will expand from covering primarily businesses to include individuals and become pervasive. This is the one moment in the book where his expertise falters.
"It will be a very [his emphasis] different world when we all can rate service providers, and nothing but good will come out of this in the long run." Nothing but good? Has he been online lately?
Enterprise Social Technology By Scott Klososky Greenleaf Book Group Press 280pp ISBN: 978-1-60832-086-8 £12.50