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on February 5, 2012
I am driven by mental anguish to write this, my first review, because this book is terrible, really wretched, and it's assigned reading for a class. First of all, it is almost impossible to decipher as the author enthusiastically mixes metaphors, jargon and run-on sentences in his text. Here is a sample: "The listening that identifies relevant dialogue online and the transparency that facilitates authentic conversations by being humanly accessible is not the formula for sparking relationships that create communities that help spread our messages virally." I think the author is trying to say that listening and transparency are critical in creating online communities that will become loyal to a brand and communicate with social networks about that brand. However, he gets so lost in his own prose that it seems he is intimating the exact opposite.

Secondly, the author writes like a used car salesman selling a lemon. I am not saying the messages are bad, but the tone used to relate them is far too infomercial-like, and apocalyptic, as another commenter has said. "Engage or die?" Please.

I am lost in the maze of words piled upon words nonsensically, such as: "The essence and usefulness of each important and distinct word is slowly migrating into a hollow of obsolescence...." How many monkeys at how many typewriters were used to generate this?

So, my questions are: Who wrote the 5-star reviews? Did they actually read the book? One person said they use it like a textbook and underlined important passages. Will I get to that part soon? I am on chapter 3 and just about drowning in the overwritten, overwrought, self-congratulatory prose.

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on June 29, 2010
The book clearly explains that we're in the process of a paradigm shift here regarding marketing/PR and the like. So props for that. I guess I was looking for more of a manual of "how-to's" in the social media realm. There was some good stuff in here. But as a small business owner I found myself skipping over a fair amount of the pages that were discussing how different departments should respond and what their goals should be. I would say pick this book up if you're part of a big organization trying to better understand "social media" and you want to find a place for it in your mid to large size company.
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on March 23, 2010
"Perhaps the biggest mistakes committed by businesses, personalities, and brands in social media occur when people jump into social networks blindly without establishing guidelines, a plan of action, a sense of what people are seeking and how and why they communicated, an understanding of where people are congregating, a definition of what they represent and how they will personify the brand online, and the goals, objectives, and metrics associated with participation." Albeit fairly late in the book, this sentence sums up the purpose of Brian Solis in Engage! One more book about Social Media, sure; but this one is one of the best written. It's almost reassuring to read sentences that exceed 140 characters (or twenty words), and, while you can find all the trendy buzzwords and expressions on virtually every page, the author authentically tries to assist social media managers as they transition from the broadcasting age to the intricacies of a new form of netcasting architecture where both users and corporations exchange "social objects." How well or efficiently can they do so? This book provides social media managers with the background knowledge and practical notions that they can leverage to design a consistent strategy.

The first half of the book surveys the world of social media in general, describing all the aspects of social interactions and their impact on corporate marketing and communication, as well as customer service departments. Traditional marketing schemas have irreversibly imploded under the pressure of a crowd represented in a "conversation prism" that factors in behavioral guidelines implicitly or explicitly set by the multiple socialization channels. So marketers must listen. What can they do with so much information? "Instead of inhibiting the pace and breadth of information flow, we must channel relevant details and data," a task that does not only require "attention" (nice reference to Linda Stone's Continuous Partial Attention), but also some understanding of applied social sciences or researchers' and analysts' categorizations (such as Charlene Li's and Jeremiah Owyang's Socialgraphics). Achieving a state of the art "unmarketing" to use a time-stamped word by Scott Stratten - i.e. rebuilding a marketing strategy from the bottom up - entails, for many companies, a serious reassessment of some entrenched marketing habits. Hence the resolutely didactic approach of the two parts of the book: "The New Reality of Marketing and Creating Customer Service" and "Forever Students of New Media."

The second half of the book comprises four parts that detail the new responsibilities that come up with the potential of social media, and focuses more specifically on what a "new marketing" approach may look like. One of the most remarkable sections is related to "defining the rules of engagement." It unambiguously shows to the skeptics that the social media revolution is not a passing phenomenon spurred on or controlled by influencers, but the reality of today's computing, one of the incarnations of the social Web, and that it is set to transform every single company from the inside. The examples of IBM's and Intel's guide-lines (and its digital IQ Program) do not only demonstrate the forward-thinking intelligence of people like Bryan Rhoads or Ken Kaplan, but also the proactive approach of highly regarded companies as they define new roles and responsibilities to adapt to a new world. Digital intelligence is not simply the prerogative of a handful of gurus appointed to task forces or advisory boards, it will also be part of the job description of most employees in the close future if they want to be up to par with educated customers. The scope of the book stops here, but it's clear that the social media revolution will lead to the reassessment of corporate cultures, employee empowerment methodologies, and linguistic and artistic skills. "Unmarketing" just like any vibrant "marketing" starts from within. Corporate stonewalling doesn't have too much future.

End result: a serious book that gathers the Zeitgeist (and will bring many people up to speed with trends and idioms). Somewhat voluble, yet kindly extroverted and definitely useful if you want to create a social media plan.
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on June 30, 2010
First things first, Bryan Solis is extremely knowledgeable, passionate and plugged into the Social Media space. This book, his blog, his professional experience, they all prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

He is no social media pretender or self proclaimed Social Media Guru, he is the real deal and I highly value his insight.

That said, I really did not enjoy reading this book. Sure, there is some valuable information in there, but it's buried in a sea of overwritten prose, that flat out sucks the fun out of Social Media. Words like "elucidate" "facilitate" "social architecture" and "threshold" dominate, making my eyes heavy and my interest wane. I wish Solis would have put away his thesaurus and just told it like it is.

Social media really isn't that complicated, so why make it so?

After finishing university, I promised myself, I would never again read a piece of over stuffed academic writing again. Sadly, I just did. Sorry self, I'll try not to break our promise again. Or as Solis would say, "I will strive to follow a course of action, that will ensure in the utmost that I will not again breach a condition set verbally, or otherwise in regards to my personal conduct, henceforth.

Content = 4*
Readability = 1*
Overall = 2*
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on April 15, 2010
Much like the de rigueur necessity of having a website a decade ago, it has become increasingly apparent that any company looking to establish a direct connection with their consumers now needs to have a social marketing strategy as well. Yet, with a daily growing array of platforms and tools now available to accomplish such goals, the choices and strategies needed to achieve such relationships can often seem overwhelming at best.

With a surfeit of so-called social marketing `experts' now in the marketplace, how can a brand be sure they are getting the best advice and a full understanding of the expanding number of options available to accomplish this mission? Enter Brian Solis. In recent years, Solis has emerged as one of the foremost experts on social marketing. His new book, `Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate and Measure Success in the New Web,' offers a truly comprehensive guide to managing a company's online brand awareness and customer interaction that is second to none.

Solis opens the kimono on everything from establishing a company's initial messaging goals and approach to a deep dig into the tools and platforms currently available to facilitate and evaluate the success of an effective social media campaign. While admitting various brands have different needs, Solis lays out his program like a college curriculum offering fourteen chapters that create the rubric for `The New Media University: 101 to MBA.'

`Engage' reveals the best practices for establishing brand identity, reputation, rules of engagement and feedback, both through carefully planned corporate planning as well as through the use of tools ranging from social networks, widgets, feeds and more designed to facilitate the best messaging systems, listening devices and conversational workflows. Solis provides access to a broad array of resources, some so new that they aren't actually even in full operation yet when we tested their websites!

At the end of the day, Solis appears to cover every single aspect of social marketing and while the book eventually gets into some very heady stuff regarding feedback metrics, charting and tracking programs, it is clear that this book goes further than any volume we have yet to see on this subject. Whether most companies can keep up with the extensive options Solis presents has yet to be seen. Of course, this new medium is far from a static state and therefore there are clearly more platforms and tools just around the corner (Gowalla, anyone?) For that Solis offers a website to carry on from here. Well done!
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on February 15, 2011
The promise of this book is terrific -- learn how to engage your online audience effectively -- plus it was published recently enough that I might trust most of the insights to be fairly up to date. Unfortunately, "Engage!" is a poorly written, poorly structured mess with very few if any groundbreaking insights. The book is far too long for how little information it actually contains, and to access that limited information is a slog, to be generous. For a book titled "Engage!" the author has a very difficult time engaging his reader. Beyond just not being able to write well, he seems unjustifiably impressed by his own buzzword coinages ("statusphere," "egosystem") and that he's advised Ashton Kutcher in this arena. Finally -- and I don't fault the author for this -- the book is designed poorly as well: extremely bad typographic choices paired with a total lack of, yes, engaging layout. One should be able to open a book like this to almost any page and glean something useful -- impossible here.
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on January 1, 2012
I was very dissapointed on this book. I could not find a single original concept or idea that made the book worthy. It constantly repeat the idea of "engage or die" and, as the usual apocaliptic analysis, does not go one step further on that. As the creator of the conversation prism i expected more from him and not a list fo links and research done by others.

If you have some experience of interest in this field, the book is basic. If in the other side, you are new, you may find it an great. But for me, very ver lame and boring.
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on November 4, 2010
After trudging through 2/3rds of this book I finally gave up. Filled with a mixture of too much inane detail of little use and out of date references ( as one example) I found the book to be of no value to our social media efforts whatsoever.

If you are completely new to the internet, have a tremendous amount of patience and time, maybe this will interest you. For a practical guide to developing and integrating social media as a brand component, I cannot recommend this book.
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on December 20, 2012
It almost seems like the author enjoys hearing himself pontificate about various social media subjects. A lot of good theory and some insight, but not a lot of useful information for the experienced social media advertiser.
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on February 14, 2014
I have to admit I couldn't finish this. I started it on a Californian beach, moved to Seattle with a 24-hour train trip, took it to Canada numerous times but couldn't get into it. It's not the book, it's me. I'm an early adopter, digital marketer. Nothing in this book was new for me.

A year ago I gave up and gave it to a colleague who wanted to learn about social media. It was a perfect match.
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