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

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?
Written by Robin Harris on

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


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