I’ve been on a reading spree lately, concentrating on business books that focus on social networking. I have a pretty wide definition of “business” and the first book I’ve included is a work of fiction.
I read “Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom” by Cory Doctorow at the recommendation of Daniel Rothamel at Real Estate BarCamp Virginia. This is a work of science fiction, based in a time where death is obsolete and money no longer exists. In place of currency, your net worth is figured in “Whuffie” – and Whuffie is exactly why I’m recommending this as a business book. Oh, it’s a great read on it’s own, but if you’ve looked at “social media” from the outside and wondered what value anyone would see in sites such as Twitter or Facebook, the answer is Whuffie. Whuffie is just a measurement of your social worth, respect or esteem. If you provide something of value to others (in this case, educational links, breaking news, solutions to problems or just simple friendship), their good feelings towards you will increase your Whuffie points and you’ll have a higher net worth. We may not be keeping a numerical score, but Whuffie is out there. You can download this book, in many different formats, for free here.
World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott is about how to create a viral event using the power of social media. I bought the book not for it’s intent but because the book speaks very much to the way consumers view the market today. This book concentrates on advertising through means which cost little to no money, how to reach a large audience (surprisingly, sometimes by starting with very few people) and how not to alienate the very people you’re trying to reach. World Wide Rave suggests turning advertising around to solve your clients’ problems rather than preaching about what you can do. It’s about THEM. (Bonus points to the book because it features my friend Mike Lefebvre. Hi, Mike!)
What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis is kind of a survival handbook for businesses that might need to evolve to better fit in our Googled-up world. (Hint: as an independent contractor, it’s a good idea to know this stuff.) You’ll learn how customer service is the new marketing, how a group of fans on Facebook discussing your product is worth a thousand ads and that when you give over control of the direction of your business to the people you’re trying to service, you ALL win. Get out there and listen to the people you want to work with!
Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky explains how groups form, work together and accomplish goals. When you first join a network such as Twitter, you may see what looks like the whole world streaming by and wonder how you’d ever keep up. If you stick with it, you realize that you can follow your friends, family, associates, random interesting people, celebrities and more, and you create a little group all your own. Here Comes Everybody explains how we keep groups to a manageable size for ourselves while still having the power of a much larger community. Members of groups tend to want to help each other, following an unwritten rule of “if I take care of you now, someone will take care of me later.” The easy formation of groups makes it possible to “fail faster” so you can get past it on with the stuff that works.
A funny thing happened after I read What Would Google Do?. I tweeted that I’d just finished WWGD and loved it – what should I read next? My answer came from Jeff Jarvis himself, suggesting I read Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. As you’ve just read, I took his advice and I’m glad I did. If you’d like to follow all four of these authors on Twitter, please do:@doctorow, @dmscott, @jeffjarvis and @cshirky.
And if you’d like to suggest what I should read next and why, please do!