Book review: The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media in Organisations

IMG_0587In January, I received a copy of the book “The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media in Organisations”, authored by my former student* Yekemi Otaru. I was very  happy to see that she had published a book, building on her many years of experience and her MBA dissertation – and I wasn’t disappointed. Here is my review.

 

Packed with examples, backed by research, easy to read book on implementing social media in the B2B environment

There aren’t many books exploring the use of social media in the business to business context, and there are even fewer looking at how to make it happen. This book aims to fill that gap, because, as the author tells us ‘Social media can not be embarked on light-heartedly. It involves various levels of realignment of roles, structures, policies and processes’ (page 3).

In this book, the author uses insights from academic research and business practice to develop a three-layer framework to help managers create an environment where employees engage with, and participate in, the organisation’s social media strategy.

In the first part of the book, the author describes what such an organisational environment looks like, and the opportunities and challenges (e.g., change management) that it presents.

Then, in parts two to four, the author discusses each of the three layers of the framework, in turn. They are:
– Layer 1: Clarifying the vision, and setting rules and examples, in order to motivate and empower employees at all levels of the organisation;
– Layer 2: Using analysis to clarify the desired direction, identify what needs to be done, and set up relevant tools kits and training programmes;
– Layer 3: Launching and leading on social media initiatives, that take the whole organisation through a process of learning and changing.

Each part starts with an overview of key concepts and academic work that inform the discussion in that part of the book. This is complemented with examples and/or data, such as findings from a recent survey or a look at social media policies posted on certain companies’ webpages. Each part, then, ends with a short case study, which offers an account of how the issue discussed in that part of the book was dealt with in one organisation. The case studies range from star-ups to multinational corporations, and all include interviews and first hand accounts.

The good points
– This book fills a gap in knowledge.
– It is grounded on solid academic research – hence (I think) the title ‘Smart Sceptics…’
– It mentions numerous sources, academic and otherwise, allowing readers to explore particular aspects in depth, should they wish to.
– It draws on rich data and examples.
– Excellent range of examples.
– It is very easy to read – easy, direct writing style; limited use of jargon; large font; generous line spacing;
– Includes link to a survey tool developed by the author, to assess the organisation’s readiness in each of the three layers of the framework. The link also leads to other resources.

The ‘could be better’ points
– The book would benefit from a visual depiction of the framework.
– It would benefit from (one more round?) of editing – there are some inconsistencies in style, for instance; and framing and sign-posting could be better.
– The abundance of in-text references may put some readers off, particularly those unfamiliar with the academic style of writing and attribution.

 

What are your experiences of using social media, in a business to business context?

* from the Henley Business School’s MBA programme

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