Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

Summary: Chris Brogan just announced his new book-in-progress about Google+ and business but is it too early to be relevant being that Google's business page/platform has not yet gone full scale?


Just like the tech boom in the late 90's, the social media era has spawned a new movement of book authors covering every possible facet of the social landscape. Social media in the current sense of the phrase really didn't take off until the MySpace rush during the early part of the previous decade. Nowadays, with companies and individuals alike vying for eyeballs and interactivity on Twitter and Facebook, it's been great seeing so many professionals help us make sense of it all. Early on, innovative books by folks like Brian Solis (Engage!), Chris Brogan (Trust Agents), and Seth Godin helped to pave the way for more recent releases by folks like my pals Aaron Strout (Location Based Marketing for Dummies) and Michael Brito (Smart Business Social Business).

The above mentioned authors wrote those books after a decent amount of time had passed with plenty of data, case studies, customer stories, interviews and analysis to back up what they had to say.

The race to stay relevant

I have always looked up to Chris as one of the original gangsters of big picture thinking when it comes to social media and still do to some extent. I know he's a good guy and has helped many folks get started in understanding where social media fits into their business and marketing mix. He has also really helped us understand a deeper tie-in with human behavior and its role in marketing, which is the real premise behind social media. However, a post on his blog about his next literary endeavor was a little surprising. Yesterday he announced his next book: Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything, complete with it's own placeholder Amazon link.

My first reaction? Ridiculous.

According to his recent announcement, he has been 'furiously writing for weeks'...about a platform and a concept that has not yet launched. How is that possible? There's no data, no method, and no examples on how to use Google+ wisely for business. Brand pages aren't even available yet to anyone other than big players like MTV and Ford, and even then, it's very much in the development phase. Scott Monty commented on a previous ZDNet Social Business blog post that he is working closely with Google on this as a long term ongoing project but Google+ is barely a zygote in the social media realm let alone the business world. I have a ton of respect for Brogan as one of the first successful social media leaders, speakers, and book authors but this seems a little silly being that Google+ has really only been out a month or so. While it's member registrations have crested 25 million users in a very short amount of time, the reality still stands:

  • People still aren't sure if they want to make the switch OR if they just want to use both simultaneously for different purposes. (A little too much of a time-sucker for my taste)
  • We are all still kinda sitting here going, "Google+ is here! Ok, now what?"
  • The business platform has not even fully launched yet!

In all honesty I interpreted Chris' move as an attempt at guaranteeing one's relevance as an author in an industry that lives, breathes and thrives on the premise of breaking news. Trying to write a book about a relationship that hasn't even happened yet (Google+ and business) is ludicrous. When the platform actually launches it's imperative that we have at the bare minimum six months of data to work with, case studies, conferences, discussions and real world examples. Then and only then would it be possible to create a book of real substance.

My biggest problem with what Chris did here is that social media already gets a bad rap from skeptics and seasoned business people alike who are still trying to understand its value outside of just being an individual's personal brand popularity contest. When I see announcements like this I cringe as the perpetuation of rolling eyes and skepticism about social media viability continues.

This is the kind of thing I had hoped someone in Brogan's position would never do. Sigh.

Also check out

Social media books: Can they stay relevant in a fast-paced industry?

Google +: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

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  • RE: Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

    Rich - thanks for the shout out. You've got me in some good company.

    Regarding the blog topic, this is a tricky one. Part of me had the same reaction you did when I heard the news that Chris was putting out a Google + for business book. And trust me, as someone that just got done writing a book on an immature topic (location based marketing), he'll certainly have his work cut out for him.

    However, here is where I will stand in and defend Chris for a couple of reasons. 1) this is just a tool and at the end of the day, the strategy behind a tool should vary dramatically. Chris knows how to engage folks in the world of social irrespective of the channel so why should Google + be any different. Assuming Chris keeps his recommendations high level, he shouldn't be too far off the mark when G+ comes out for businesses.
    2) Why not get ahead of the curve and provide businesses something to level-set with, even if it is a little on the premature side? Many companies struggled out of the gate with Facebook and Twitter. Having some sort of a guide to what to do will be helpful, even if most of the suggestions are more "social" than "G+" specific.

    One additional piece of information that gives me hope that Chris has this figured out is an early post he did that suggests some great opportunities for G+ and business. Hope you don't mind if I post it here but I think it's relevant to the argument: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/googleplus50/

    Either way, kudos to you for asking a tough question (especially when it involves a friend). One of the very many reasons that I like you.
    • RE: Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

      @aaronstrout - Of course! I don't mind at all. I also respect highly, Chris and everyone else I listed here but am an advocate of keeping the cards on the table as much as possible in an industry that can sometimes feel plagued with hype and B.S.

      I support getting ahead of the curve and innovative conceptualizing about ideas that have not yet come to fruition but when I'm personally influenced by and follow someone like Chris (as I currently am), I just want to know what the intentions are. If something comes off as odd to me, regardless of what anyone's status is, I'm gonna bring it up. I do this only for the sake of progress.

      Thanks again for sharing the link and for being a good honest dude!

      Rich Harris
      • RE: Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

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  • RE: Why social media books and 'breaking news' don't mix

    That's a great point. I hang out on Google+, listen to TWiG, and work with a cadre of startups and small businesses on an every day basis. Very few people I know outside the tech community are on it, although many people I DON'T know add me every night from parts unknown. This is fine with me, but they're not part of my "social business," they're people I am temporarily broadcasting to until they decide if they are going to use the platform, and whether I'm someone they want to listen to.

    I love Chris, but the jury's still out on Google+; people are writing RIP posts, too. There was one in BI and one on Forbes, each within the last week.

    Quien sabe? Nice post.
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