Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Book Review: Naked Conversations

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Robert Scoble & Shel Israel

This book isn't just a business book or a book for marketers ~ it should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding what communication is all about, the dynamic of consumers in our current culture, and the phenom known as blogging. It also is an enjoyable fun read.

I'm not just saying that because it's got 'naked' in the title. This really is one hell of a good book.

(If you're in a hurry, you may want to skip my review and just go get a copy now, for my final rating is Buy It Now!! For those who want to know why, please do continue with the review.)

Scoble and Israel are legends in blogging. They didn't become legends simply because they hopped on the technology quickly and posted often, but rather because each understood the power of blogging for the blogger and the blog reader. This passion is what separates their blogs from the rest. This passion is also the essential difference which separates this book from the herd. And they articulate it well.

Since both bloggers understand what blogging is all about ~ meaning they understand the way it connects people and provides for conversations, not just the technology or the fad aspects ~ they were able to put it to use for corporate communications. And least you believe that's the stuff of dull memos and notes from even duller meetings, Scoble and Israel are here to set the record straight: Corporate blogging is anything but dull.

By baring corporate souls and participating in dialogs with consumers, fans, media, detractors, share holders, competitors, investors and any other person who wishes to talk, companies shed perceptions of cold exteriors ~ or at least show that inside it is warm, caring and human. Blogs are the perfect mechanism for talking with rather than 'at' your market.

According to the authors the cornerstones of blogging are Authenticity, Passion, and Transparency. (You know The Whore preaches on the first two, and the latter ~ which has become such a buzz word that you will be soon sick of it ~ is not far away in posts here either.) When corporations use blogs, either by allowing employees to blog or having the head honcho do so, they open themselves up to a public of consumers and have conversations ~ or as the title says, naked conversations.

For those who fear getting naked and blogging themselves (and the book does cover which corporate cultures and individual types of people should not blog) they can still make wonderful use of blogs by conversing at the blogs of others (which still is participating in those conversations) and even just listening (i.e. reading at other blogs and incorporating that into their business).

These conversations are currently popular and powerful ~ and only becoming more so. The authors say the popularity and power comes from The Six Pillars of Blogging:

1. Publishable.

2. Findable.

3. Social.

4. Viral.

5. Syndicatable.

6. Linkable.

While the authors admit that blogs are not the only places or methods to do these things, blogs are currently the only mechanism for doing all of them at once. (A clever reader can therefore take these Six Pillars and extrapolate them into use in other areas.) The combination of the six leads to conversation, buzz, Google Juice, & trust. As others join the conversation you not only have more of the six but more of the buzz, juice and trust.

If blogs were once thought of as too childish, as lacking any credibility in 'real business,' it is now a fact that those companies that do not blog are now the ones with a credibility problem.

Businesses which do not embrace and enter conversations via blogs will pay the price. Consumers (stock holders, clients, investors, customers etc.) are increasingly wondering, "Why is company X afraid to blog?" If your company doesn't blog, your market will find (and do business with) one that does.

If you think that the authors and myself are preaching to the choir (you are after all reading at a blog, and a marketing blog at that) and therefore you have nothing to learn from this book, you are mistaken.

Along with pointing out why you should blog, including examples of how companies have benefited from blogs and interviews with high-ranking bloggers (corporate and individual bloggers, international bloggers), the authors discuss the mistakes. Using real examples as illustrations the authors give you the dos and don'ts of blogging ~ and tell you what to do if & when you or your company makes a mistake. More than just discussing blogging faux pas, they tell you how to use a blog to handle any mistakes or crisis.

In other words, now that you're convinced you'd like to play, Naked Conversations gives you the rules of the game, a list of key players, and tells you which fields are best to play on. It even acts like a cheer leading squad on those tough game days. What more can you ask for?

For those who cannot wait for their Barnes & Noble to open up, nor next day Amazon shipping, you can read about the book & its concepts from the authors as they wrote it here at the archives of the Naked Conversations Blog. But don't kid yourself that the free read will satisfy you. You're going to want this book ~ not just to enjoy the sensations of a paper read on the sofa, but for the ability stick post-it notes on stand out pages so you can quickly refer to it later. (My copy has so many yellow post-its sticking out it looks like Big Bird.) This book is definitely a Buy It Now!! (plus two exclamation points).

Title: Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers
Author: Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
Publisher: Wiley (January 2006)
ISBN-10: 047174719X
ISBN-13: 978-0471747192

The Whore's Book Review Rating System:

Buy It: A must have for your shelf.

Buy It Now: Not only a 'must have,' but so good, you should rush order it.

Check Out: Go to your library and read it. (If it means more than that to you, then you can buy it or put it on your wish list.)

Pass: Not worth your time or money.

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