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on March 7, 2006
People familiar with my reviews will know that I'm not much given to hyperbole, but on the occasion it is absolutely justified.

I've been a late recruit to the Blogosphere, but I'm now lapping up everything that I can find. One of the most fascinating things to someone who's taught neurology for years, is the way in which links are developing in almost exactly the same way as occurs in the developing brain, and the same principles apply in the Blogosphere, and in the brain of mature individuals as they learn new information.

This book starts with a quick overview of why blogging is becoming such an important part of our lives, and then we're off. We get straight into tons of practical advice.

Although I'm an admitted newbie, I think that even experienced users will likely find a lot to interest them here.

The book identifies eleven tips on how to Blog, with a nice section on each:

1. Get found easily

2. Read and comment on blogs before starting your own

3. Keep if simple and focused

4. Show passion

5. Demonstrate authority

6. Allow comments (Not everyone does, but the authors are quite right in saying that a good blog is a conversation)

7. Be accessible

8. Tell a compelling personal story

9. "Be linky"

10. Build real world relationships

11. Use your referrer log

All of this is sage advice, and the book contains loads more.

By the way, it's also a fun read: so naturally, it is highly recommended!
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Blogging is all the rage these days and authors Scoble and Israel proclaim that "blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers." The claim is vastly overblown in the sense that most businesses do not and will not talk "with" their customers, but rather talk "to" them.

While the authors enthusiasm for something they themselves do well can be understood, their perspective is limited. For example, they cite Apple and Google among companies that discourage employees from maintaining blogs. The author's attitude is that "some cultures are open and others closed." Frankly it appears Scoble and Israel have no conception of all the legal reasons why organizations may choose to discourage blogging. Trade secret, security, privacy, harassment, international laws all must be scrupulously observed to protect a company against potential liability and unless platoons of lawyers are to be employed merely to review proposed blog postings, many companies are well advised to discourage employees from posting.

Thus, the authors threat that companies that discourage blogging "will be perceived in the public eye as less interesting or relevant than those that do" is humorous as well as misinformed.

Claims such as "[b]logging is cheaper and more effective than most marketing programs in use today" are simply unsupportable, though the authors do cite a couple of examples. But exceptions do not make a rule.

Scoble and Israel fully admit to their personal enthusiasm for blogging and they are indeed believers as every page makes clear. They do present a solid framework for business blogging with lots of solid tips for those sticking a toe in the blogging waters.

But on the whole, blogs are simply one more tool for organizations to consider. For many companies (and, particularly, individuals), blogging may make a substantial difference - but, as with everything else, for most it won't.

Given all my reservations, I would still recommend that managers at least give this book a fast read, just to stay current with blogging and what the buzz is all about.

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on January 18, 2006
The short answer to that question is yes.

Don't miss this book even if you and/or your organization haven't yet jumped into the blogosphere.

Scoble and Israel hammer home the point that blogging and other forms of social media are transforming how businesses communicate with customers, suppliers, and all their constituencies.

But this isn't a one-sided, navel-gazing tome on the virtues of blogging. This book is full of hard-hitting advice from dozens of successful bloggers on what makes some blogs work and others flame out.

The book itself is like a blog on steroids, but with a natural thread through the topics that leads the reader easily from one subject to the next. It's more of a conversation than a traditional book.

Throughout the case studies, the authors let the voices of the bloggers shine through, giving the reader a sense of the issues each company faced. When the authors agree or disagree with how a business handled a situation, they let you know-in a civilized way.

Scoble and Israel boil down their research and experience to help businesses understand the nuts and bolts of blogging without going geeky on the reader. They've got eleven tips for a successful blog, how to blog your way through a crisis, and an update of Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto.

Make no mistake-this is a business book. If you're blogging now, read it for the hundreds of insights you'll uncover. If your organization isn't blogging, use this book as a discussion starter for deciding whether blogging is right for your company.
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on January 21, 2007
Scoble and Israel concede that Naked Conversations is not an objective report; the book is written by two blog-champions and sometimes you have to take their arguments with a grain of salt.

However, the authors make a great case for blogs and showcase their power in crisis management, recruiting, and customer support and evangelism. Companies that capitalized on this trend (Microsoft, L'Oreal) came out as big winners, and companies which failed to do so (Kensington, Google) have looming PR crises. Blogs can be instrumental in two-way marketing, and in today's world of 'citizen journalism' they can make for great customer evangelism tools, or if you're not careful, a public bashing from online and offline press. As the authors point out, people are more polite when they know you are listening. The PR folks, the marketing consultants, and mom-and-pop shops stand to benefit from ideas described in this book.

Blogs may not be revolutionary after all, but without a doubt, they add to the repertoire of marketing and PR strategies. Blogs are word-of-mouth on steroids; blogs can make or break your company in a span of several hours, and you better figure out what you're going to do about it before it's too late.
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on April 7, 2007
Naked Conversations is an insightful guide to the phenomenon of corporate blogging. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have taken the fundamental message of The Cluetrain Manifesto--the claim that `markets are conversations'--and explored its business implications. Less visionary than The Cluetrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations is far more practical and instructive. It's the kind of book that you could recommend to your boss if he wanted to know why he should encourage his employees to blog about work.

The authors put forward a convincing case that businesses large and small need to take blogging seriously. On the one hand, corporate blogging can provide excellent return on investment, particularly in terms of search engine rankings but also, less quantifiably, in shared community perceptions. On the other hand, ignoring the blogosphere or entering it without taking account of its culture risks injuring a company's credibility. A key point is that blogging, unlike traditional public relations, is as much or more about listening as it is about speaking.

The authors divide the book into three sections. The first provides a series of case studies exploring different aspects of corporate blogging. Scoble and Israel point to corporate (and national) culture as the major differentiator between companies which encourage blogging and those which do not. Some companies like Google and Apple have turned corporate secrecy into a competitive strategy. Others simply let the big boss blog, preferring not to allow the minions to express themselves in their own voices. Microsoft and Sun are among the forward-thinking corporations which recognize the public relations value of encouraging their employees to talk online about the products and ideas they care about. The second section gives very practical tips about how and how not to blog about business. The third section, which is the shortest, provides a broader perspective on the place of blogging among other emerging technologies and trends.

Robert Scoble did a tremendous job with Channel 9 while he was at Microsoft. His video interviews introduced me to the people building the technologies I use everyday. I now feel a kind of personal connection to Microsoft and its employees. This would never have happened through advertising and traditional public relations. It came as a result of letting employees speak publicly about what they are working on. Rather than thinking about the company as a `Borg,' I regard Microsoft as a collection of extremely interesting and creative individuals who also listen and respond to what others have to say about their products.

Naked Conversations is not a technical book about how to set up a blog. Rather, it's an introduction to the culture of blogging and how it contributes to business today. Clearly, anyone considering blogging about business will want to read this book first--not just to avoid getting `dooced'--but to gain the right perspective on the risks and returns of talking and listening to customers online.
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on October 9, 2006
I bought this book being a newbie to bloging. Results after I've read it? I would call my self a bloging enthusiast now.

1. The book gives a really good insight on what is bloging buzz all about. Gives a lot of good examples on how can businesses benefit from bloging.

2. Authors provide some useful advices on HOW TO blog and get the most out of blogging.

3. By the end of the book you get a pretty clear idea on how to start blogging.

Authors are very enthusiastic, they provide many examples, they make several courageous statements. The main line of the book is "Bloging is great! Companies should blog! Bloging can beat conventional marketing and PR"

I find some of the ideas mentioned in the book overly optimistic. The authors have their own (sometimes narrow) perspective on the issue. Some of the examples are a bit of a filler. Though you can still get enough dimonds out of a whole bunch of things described in the book.

Anyway, this book is a good source if you:

a) want to get an insight into the world of bloging

b) find out how big of a benefit bloging can be to your business

C) if you are just fishing for new ideas on how to improve your marketing & PR.
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on March 22, 2007
This book is all about business blogging and how it is THE way to communicate with your intended audience.

Why is blogging the best way for a business to communicate?

Think about what "advertising" means to you. What do you picture -- a TV commercial? A magazine ad? Maybe even a website or a virtual tour.

What's the main problem with each of those? There is no TWO WAY CONVERSATION happening with any of them. Mainstream advertising is about talking "at" people. Blogs let you converse with people.

Blogging blows the lid off of "shut up and listen to me" advertising.

A blog welcomes you in. A blog makes room for you in the conversation.

People want to talk. It is a basic human need, to be heard. You'll never hear a response if you talk to your TV. But leave a comment on a blog, and chances are you'll hear back from the blogger.

Blogging is affordable. Thanks to Active Rain, all it costs you is time. In a world where everyone seems to have their hand out, this is a refreshing change. Your blog is available to anyone in the world with computer access. Even the largest postcard mailing you'd ever dream of can't do that -- and certainly not for free!

Having a blog may allow you to reduce your spending on advertising.

The "fresh pages" that are a direct result of blogging raises your SEO like nothing else. People will find you faster if only you take the time to blog.

Blogging as a Realtor makes perfect sense. You are an independent contractor, your business is your own. Speaking in your own voice in your blog lets people know you in a way no other form of advertising could ever allow. Realtors sometimes bounce from one agency to another. It's should be important to you that people remember YOU, and blogging accomplishes this with gusto!
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on August 2, 2013
It's been seven and a half years since Naked Conversations was first published, but it remains persuasive and relevant.

The state of the blogosphere is not what it was then, the tools are not the same, and some of the future trends Israel and Scoble predicted did not happen, although to be honest they did stress that it is impossible to predict the future.

However, the case studies remain relevant, and even more importantly, much of the book is basically a manifesto on what they considered blogging and blogosphere should be like: transparent, open, and truthful. This vision and their arguments in favor of it remain as relevant today as they were in 2006.
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on May 31, 2007
Blogs are another way of marketing a company's products and services and drawing folks into the raison d'etre for the company doing certain things, or going in a certain direction. Websites offer information, but no dialog.

My take on this book is that .. this is a must read for every Marketing person. Blogs have a huge potential for making companies look human and help sell products.

The book is very 'straight from the heart'. You can see that all over the place :). These guys are really into blogging and passionately so.

The industry examples are very good. Google and Apple not encouraging blogging was a big surprise.
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on August 9, 2007
As a novice blogger and blog reader, I found this book to be a very helpful initiation into the culture of blogging. While the authors can be a bit "preachy" at times, they do get their message across and I find that their views on what blogging is all about ring true.

If you are already out there in the blogosphere, you will probably not find anything new here. However, if you are just getting your start, and especially if your business is just getting its start in blogging, this is an important book to read.
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