Posted on June 6, 2012

Engage!” explains how social media principles can exponentially increase the success and longevity of corporations and small businesses by using social media to create relationships and initiate conversation.  Brian Solis uses a straightforward, step-by step approach on how businesses can launch successful social media campaigns.  First, he defines social media and digital intelligence and explains what it means to society.  Solis then explains how to define target audiences and identify the marketing principles that may resonate in the new digital ecosystem. Second, this book serves as a guidebook on how to apply strategies and techniques to actively engage audiences.   Finally, he presents methods to create brand identity and reputation.

This book serves as a social media guidebook. It offers a toolkit and a plethora of information on strategies to use and various platforms and networks to engage the consumer.  I found his discussion on incorporating news feeds, widgets, blogs, podcasts, aggregation, mobile networking, and syndication especially insightful.  His approach encourages collaboration and the goal of creating relationships with the consumer within their social network.  I agree with the author’s approach that a person is more inclined to accept messages when the message is not blatantly talking at consumers like the traditional “top-down” marketing model.

However, at times I found the book a bit overwhelming especially if you are new to social media marketing.  I learned that there is a whole new language in working with social media.  Pictures and videos are called “social objects” and there are a whole lot of social media tools and services that I was not familiar with such as “IdeaStorm,” “Disqus,” “Klout,” and “Radian6.”  Solis does provide a glossary to assist with the new language; however, I still found myself rereading areas of the book to grasp the concepts.   That said, I think that as I work with the tools, I will become familiar with this new language.

My main criticism is that the author cited Wikipedia and learnthat.com in the notes at the end of the first chapter.   During my reading, I was fascinated that his approach was founded on Social Theory to define his target audience and consumer base.   According to Solis, Social Theory draws on sociological, anthropological, and ethnological concepts.  These disciplines act as a foundation to help practitioners understand their audiences before implementing social media strategies in a campaign. Though I understand that many non-academics feel that Wikipedia and learnthat.com are appropriate, I think they are problematic when the author claims that Social Theory is the foundation of his approach.  Solis could have cited Paul Lazersfeld and Bernard Berelson and their Two-Step Flow Theory of Mass Communications when discussing influencers in chapter 19 (or chapter one for that matter) By citing Wikipedia and these other non-academic sources at the beginning of the chapter, he undermines not only this social theoretical claim, but casts a suspicious cloud over other claims.

Overall, I thought this book was useful.  I look forward to reading the rest of the book.