Rawn Shah's book, Social Networking for Business: Choosing the Right Tools and Resources to Fit Your Needs, is hot off the presses and Rawn was nice enough to send it along and ask for my thoughts. The book covers important ground and provides some excellent models that help distinguish execution approaches for:
- Social leadership and governance
- Social tasks: Collaborating & Managing Information
- Social Experiences and Domains
- Member Engagement
These models are valuable tools for business owners so that they can make purposeful decisions regarding how they construct and deploy social initiatives and Rawn pulls from a wide body on knowledge to support these frameworks. I particularly thought the coverage of leadership, social tasks, and cultural aspects of social initiatives to be useful. Most importantly perhaps, it lays out clearly the choices that businesses have so that they can make those choices explicitly rather than falling into an approach that may not support their goals or culture.
Rawn also spends some time discussing the role of community management, its value, and the specific responsibilities that make up that role. One important responsibility that community managers have that I thought was not completely fleshed out is the community manager's role as an internal evangelist and educator for both the social approach and for the community management function. This may be a somewhat temporary responsibility as organizations are still learning what 'social' means to them but it is something that currently takes up a great deal of many community managers time and attention.
There were a few things lightly touched on I would have spent more time on, including defining goals in terms of both business outcomes & relationship with the audience in question and the topic of content and programming, which is critical to establishing a community cadence. Coverage of these topics revealed perhaps a slight bias of the book around internal and collaboration-oriented communities where the audience and goals are already fairly well understood by those participating. Establishing goals and understanding their own cultural boundaries is really the context businesses will need in order to use the frameworks in the book for effective decision-making.
Overall, this is an excellent handbook for practitioners and decision-makers who are looking to get a solid and expert introduction to the considerations involved in planning or deploying a social initiative. If that describes you, it is a worthwhile book to buy and pass around to your peers.