Book Review: Engage! by @BrianSolis

I just finished the book Engage! by Brian Solis.  I’ve had the book for a couple of months and it’s not a book that you should just breeze through quickly.  I mean this in the best possible way.  This book deserves time and attention.  Now, I have to disclose that I am a big fan of Brian, as he was the co-author of my book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.  He also made significant contributions to my earlier book, PR 2.0, New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.

Friendship aside, I know how difficult it is to write a book (especially without a co-author) and you can tell the passion, and heart and soul that fills the pages of Engage!  When you read this book, take your time and absorb the information, because there is a lot. Engage! is a complete guide; a resource that many different readers will find valuable.  When I first picked up my copy, I wondered if the book was going to satisfy a widespread audience. Writing this book must not have been an easy task.  In my opinion, Brian has achieved what he’s set out to do.  Within the pages of Engage! is social and business insight for the beginner, novice, intermediate and advanced professional.

A few words of advice, if you are a beginner/novice to social media then go slowly and study the first half of the book.  Try to master the concepts, and research the platforms further, before moving ahead to conquer the second half of the book.  If you are intermediate or advanced social media professional or enthusiast, the first half of the book will provide some good background and interesting information.  It may also validate your current thoughts and practices. However, the second half of the book is where you will find incredible gems of information.

Although I could probably write a 20-page review on the book, I will try to give the abridged version and focus on three areas that were particularly interesting for me.  They include:

  • Chapter 17, “Defining the Rules of Engagement”
  • Chapter 21, “The Social Marketing Compass”
  • Chapter 25, “The New Media Scorecard”

I’ve mentioned before, the social media communications process begins with a policy or guidelines for the organization.  In Chapter 17, “Defining the Rules of Engagement,” Brian does a fantastic job with policy development.  He uses several great examples, but his first is the the U.S. Marine Corp. and U.S. Army. Moving through these examples, he reminds us that our armed forces face the issue of OPSEC (Operational Security) and COMSEC (Communication Security), which put our forces at an elevated risk of compromise.  Moving through the examples he shows how the U.S. military is seeking guidelines, “defining, regulating, and promoting the use of social media…”  One of the best lines in the chapter is, “If the U.S. military is actively seeking guidelines …then it’s safe to assume that your organization should follow suite.”

The chapter also has great information on policies including Intel’s Social Media Guidelines, Tod Defren’s Top 10 Guidelines for Social Media Participation (offered for public dissemination) and a great case study on Brian’s work with Intel and the organization’s Digital IQ Program.

Another extremely helpful chapter is Chapter 21, “The Social Marketing Compass.”  I include the Social Marketing Compass in many of my presentations because it is such a vivid and useful tool.  According to Brian, the Social Marketing Compass “serves as our value system when defining program activities.”  This tool is meant to point an organization in a physical or experiential direction to make the right connections with customers and other stakeholders where they congregate and seek information or guidance.  Brian goes through every part of the compass, with full descriptions from the players and the platforms to the channels and the emotions.

Another very helpful part of Chapter 21 is the Social Media Plan Outline, which is a great outline to follow, as you are charting your course of action.

The final chapter in my review is Chapter 25, “The New Media Scorecard,” because what is a complete guide to social media without the measurement part.  This chapter is packed with measurement guidelines.  I especially found the Measurement Program Checklist by K.D. Paine to be extremely helpful.  K.D. offers a five step process from Step 1, What are Your Objectives, through to Step 5, Select the Right Measurement Tool. I also thought Brian did a great job with his discussion of the Cs of Measuring Action Through Cost, thoroughly  outlining and defining everything from Cost Per Impression (CPM) and Cost Per Click (CPC) to Cost Per Action (CPA) and Cost Per Engagement (CPE).  Other helpful ways to measure influence include the Razorfish Social Influence Score, as well as how to capture share of voice, which is “the total conversations in the social web compared to brand/competitor share.”

Engage! is truly a complete guide for brands and businesses.  True to the title, reading this book will either be the impetus to get you started, or the the means to have you dig in deeper to achieve social media success.  Thank you Brian for offering incredible insight, and moving us further along on our path to engage.