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Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager (IBM Press) Paperback – January 25, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


“A must-read for anyone in business today. Ed does an incredible job at articulating the cultural shift driving social business today and the need for companies to embrace social business practices in order to thrive in today’s changing digital world.”

—Jonathan Levitt

Chief Marketing Officer, OpinionLab


“Ed gives us a highly actionable, from-the-trenches view of social business, how it works, and why it will reshape how we do business.”

—Dion Hinchcliffe

Chief Strategy Officer, Dachis Group

Columnist for ZDNet and InformationWeek


“I have been teaching Internet Marketing classes at DePaul University since 2006, and the IBM Social Computing Guidelines have been indispensable in providing direction to students looking to meaningfully engage in business social media. To this excellent resource I now add another, Ed Brill’s Opting In. The book is an honest and open combination of history and insight, in which Ed shares how he and IBM have used social media to make a technology giant more approachable and relevant to the lives of its customers and prospects. No small feat. The publishing industry abounds with social media guides at present. Opting In distinguishes itself from the completion by sharing real-world examples of what has worked (and what has not), with a clear explanation of the critical factors and lessons learned. Perhaps the new IBM meme will be ‘Nobody ever got fired for ‘Opting In’.’”

—James Moore

Director of Online Learning, DePaul University, Driehaus College of Business


“Many organizations are struggling to find ways to connect more effectively with their customers, partners, and their own employees. As an early adopter of social business solutions, IBM’s Ed Brill has been excelling at this for more than a decade. In Opting In, he shares his experiences and insights on how to engage with communities and use their feedback to help guide critical business decisions. Anyone looking to learn how to leverage community feedback should put this on their reading list.”

—Alan Lepofsky

Vice President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research


“Social business is an organizational imperative. In Opting In, Ed Brill demonstrates how IBM transformed our culture and tools to connect people with people and insert social into business process. This book represents the best practices and lessons learned in an extremely effective, personal narrative. Must reading for any product or brand manager.”

—Jeff Schick

Vice President, Social Software, IBM


“Ed has been involved with social software since its very early days, driving his personal, product, and corporate brand forward as the social landscape began to take shape. This book gives an insider’s view of the evolution of the social business from a personal perspective and how brands needed to adapt to the changing way of communicating. He shows how the use of social media has enabled the growth of transparency in business and gives practical advice for aspiring social product managers. It is an excellent resource for any business wishing to activate its advocates and grow its agile social business.”

—Eileen Brown

Contributor, Social Business column at ZDNet and author of Working the Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business


“Clearheaded, actionable, and hype-free. As an IBM product manager who has successfully navigated the social business waters for himself, Ed demonstrates a remarkable ability to marry data and experience into a framework others can use to build, lead, and actualize social product strategies. This book is a must-read for any product manager with questions about navigating social business!”

—Jason Seiden

CEO, Ajax Workforce Marketing


“‘Opting in’ to become a more social business is imperative whether your business is large or small. This book gives you the roadmap you need to get there.”

—Laurie McCabe

Partner, SMB Group


“Ed Brill’s Opting In is an important book that takes social business beyond external marketing to provide practical guidance on how to drive significant business value through enhancing human interactions within the enterprise.”

—Bill Ives

Partner, Merced Group


“Product management is a relationship business. It is about resonating with the user. Opting In shows you why and how social tools can accelerate relationships so you can sing to your consumer and make an extraordinary difference to the world.”

—Kantha Shelke Ph.D.

Principal, Corvus Blue and developer who helped create and launch more than 100 food products that are still on the retail shelf today

From the Inside Flap

Using today's social business tools and approaches, product and brand managers can bring new products and services to market faster, identify new opportunities for innovation, and anticipate changing market conditions before competitors do. In Opting In, IBM's Ed Brill demonstrates how product managers can fully embrace social business and leverage the powerful opportunities it offers.

Brill explains why social business is not a fad, not "just people wasting time on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube," and not just for marketers. He shows how to drive real value from crowdsourcing, interactivity, and immediacy, and from relational links across your organization's full set of content and networks.

Drawing on his extensive experience at IBM, Brill explores powerful new ways to apply social business throughout product, service, and brand management. Using actual IBM examples, he offers candid advice for optimizing products by infusing them with the three core characteristics of social business: engagement, transparency, and agility.

Drive breakthrough product, service, and brand performance through:

Engagement: Optimize productivity and efficiency by deeply connecting customers, employees, suppliers, partners, influencers... maybe even competitors

Transparency: Demolish boundaries to information, experts, and assets--thereby improving alignment, knowledge, and confidence

Agility: Use information and insight to anticipate/address evolving opportunities, make faster decisions, and become more responsive

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: IBM Press
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: IBM Press; 1 edition (January 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0133258939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0133258936
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,922,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Ed Brill is Director, Product Management -- IBM Social Business solutions.

Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM's messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products. Brill's focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

In eighteen years at IBM, Brill has led a variety of sales, marketing, and product-related organizations. As Director for Social Business, Brill has succeeded in elevating IBM's expertise and reputation in brand and product management. He has constantly innovated in both marketplace strategy and product execution.

Committed to understanding the global marketplace, Brill has visited IBM customers in over forty countries, and is a frequent speaker at IBM and industry events worldwide. Brill has served on the advisory boards for Web 2.0 Expo and IDG Mobile Enterprise Next.

Outside of IBM, Brill is an active Chicago community member. As a 25-year resident of Highland Park, Illinois, USA, Brill authors "Highlands and Ravines", a regular opinion column on community news website, and previously wrote for the Chicago Tribune's TribLocal.

Brill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Indiana University, with a minor in political science.

To connect with the author online:
Blog:, named a "Best Blog for Buyers" by Network World

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike on February 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ed's book has some terrific stories and examples that every business person should take to heart. It's not a book on how to be a product manager. It's a book on how to be a successful leader and team member in business. Whether you are in sales, marketing, product management, or any part of the product life cycle, you will benefit from the experiences Ed provides in this quick read. He lays out the basis for his thinking early in chapters, provides excellent examples of what works (and often, what doesn't work), and then summarizes those experiences for easy retrieval when you feel like you need a refresher. For me, it provided validation that many of the habits I've been practicing for years are the best path to success, and it gave me some new ideas to focus on to grow and become more successful in my career.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Head on January 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
(In an effort to be transparent, I am acknowledged in the book for hosting Ed's blog and am a good friend of the author)

I downloaded the book on my kindle to read what I have heard and read the author discuss during the process. The book reads well. Great tone. Great pacing. Good balance of ideas with specifics. I was able to read it in two nights.

The content is great. I don't always agree with many of the ideas of Social Business that come from large vendor such as IBM, but this book isn't about that. It's about showcasing situations and learning how social business applies. The ideas are genuine and connect well with the specifics shared. No one reading this, either part of the Notes/Lotus/Social community that has known Ed for years or new to the space, will question the Author's passion and knowledge. There is no fluff. Unlike many business or best practices book, you can see yourself in the situation.

The additions from other authors broaden the discussion. They never felt tacked on.

I did not agree with every conclusion or outcome, but I learned quite a bit. I wanted more. In a business book, that is the best outcome.

(edited to fix a grammar mistake that changed the meaning of a statement)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are considering reading Ed Brill’s book, Opting In to gain valuable insights on the pluses and minuses of being engaged in social media as a product manager, you will not be disappointed. Brill lived the life, made the mistakes and had the successes that make this book a great “how to” lesson for anyone considering being a “social” product manager.

But the book is more than that. Brill makes the case for social business regardless of the organization and regardless of your role.

It’s one thing to hear the best practice or the theory of how things should work. It’s another to read about how they’ve played out in the real world. Brill practices his messages of transparency and engagement by sharing stories - some of which make him look good and some…not so much. But it’s that willingness to be authentic that makes the book a good read and a set of lessons that others can learn from.

Here are some favorite passages from Opting In.

“Being transparent often introduces a new cultural element to many organizations - that of admitting and discussing when something goes wrong. Transparency often encourage a culture of continuous improvement rather than striving to get things right the first time.” - Ed Brill

“Social business is not just about adopting technology and tools, although these are obviously important elements. Just as important are the policy and cultural requirements that must exist, or be adopted, as transformational elements, from the very top of an organization. This is certain for internal use as social business tools as it is for external.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephan Hovnanian on September 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Opting In, by Ed Brill, examines what it takes for a business to empower its community (internally and externally) to become a more social business.

Often, as marketers and business owners investigating social business practices, we read content targeted toward the marketing department, since marketing drives the public-facing initiatives for a company. But in Opting In, we learn how employing social techniques internally can truly elevate a business, and in more areas than just marketing.

Brill offers many examples of how an agile, transparent, and engaged business can effectively communicate with itself and its customers. He even lays out the tools IBM uses internally. I have to say, as an online marketing professional, I became very envious of what they are capable of at IBM. But even if you aren't IBM, even if you are a small company with limited resources, this book will open your eyes and lay a foundation for you to analyze your internal capabilities and opt in to building the necessary social frameworks to stay competitive.

I'll add, on a personal note, that if you are a personal brand who has achieved any level of success using social media, you will identify with many of the teachings in this book. Over the past two years I have used Google+ as a platform to expand my own reach and network. I've learned to listen, engage, empower, build authority, and connect with an audience that has done a lot of my marketing for me. This path is not new for the personal brand, as I said. But if you have a company that wishes to achieve the same type of success, your company needs to Opt In. Plain and simple.
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