Customer Reviews: The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?
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on October 25, 2012
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book. The video review is similar to the one I did on my blog. In fact, my review of this book was my first blog post ever. If it feels unbalanced or biased, it's not because I have any affiliation whatsoever with the authors, I just really liked the book. I've changed the way I think and work because of it's message.
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on October 25, 2012
I have to be honest: I wasn't a big fan of Trust Agents, the first book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. It was just a bit too nebulous and didn't contain enough actionable information for my tastes. So when I received a pre-release copy of The Impact Equation in the mail a month ago, I approached it with a bit of trepidation. I shouldn't have been worried.

The Impact Equation does a marvelous job of explaining how to build or expand your personal brand online. Refreshingly, it maintains a very strong human focus, rather than focusing upon specific tools and "nuts and bolts." Building influence and impact is an inexact science. There's no "do these 10 things and you'll be unstoppable" formula you can follow. Brogan and Smith acknowledge this, and focus instead on presenting a cohesive set of strategies and principles - a platform - that has proven to be successful.

As an experienced blogger and publisher of several websites for a decade now, I was pleasantly surprised to discover many fresh insights and ideas throughout The Impact Equation. Its conversational tone and numerous examples kept me engaged and turning the pages; I found myself devouring it with a highlighter and a pen, underscoring key concepts and jotting notes in the margin on how I plan to put them to work - always a great sign of a valuable business book!

Because I write extensively on creative thinking, brainstorming and visual mapping and love sharing awesome ideas, one of my favorite parts of the book was the authors' discussion of ideas. But not how to brainstorm ideas - that topic has been covered ad nauseum in numerous books and blogs. Rather, they concentrate on how to make your ideas stronger and more persuasive, a topic that has actually gotten surprisingly little coverage in other media.

Brogan and Smith emphasize that it's not enough to come up with great ideas; they need to be relentlessly refined and shaped to ensure that they have a deeper impact upon our target audiences. They need to stand out against an increasing volume of background noise; they need to connect to other knowledge and concepts that your audience already understands. Metaphor is one way to do this. There's actually something Darwinian about successful ideas - they not only fit tightly with their customers' needs but also are designed to be eminently sharable and spread easily in social channels.

"The best ideators aren't just creative; in fact, creativity is but a single aspect idea creation. The rest is a matter of fitting the idea into its environment in an effective way - finding ways for it to spread naturally and quickly and to live beyond its initial contact with its host."

Successful ideas have designs "that help them replicate effectively and take hold in the mind." And they emphasize that "an idea's reach is a consequence of its fit within the ecosystem of its time."

Clearly, I need to spend less time generating new ideas and giving more thought to how to shape, refine and improve the ones I've already created to ensure that they have a greater impact on the people whom I'm trying to influence.

The authors also talk extensively about sharing others' great ideas, rather than just promoting your own - a great way to grow one's influence. It's a "give before you get" philosophy that can't be emphasized enough. It's definitely time consuming but is well worth the investment. It's actually the only sustainable way to grow one's influence online. I've tried to practice this, but Brogan and Smith have challenged me to do even more in this important area.

The Impact Equation is a great read, filled with tons of valuable advice that can help you to expand your influence and impact, both on- and offline. I highly recommend it!
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on October 25, 2012
Why would you buy The Impact Equation? There's a heap of marketing books. A quick search on Amazon yielded over 700,000. Most are irrelevant. Here's why I found The Impact Equation different...

I read it and it does something very unique. It focuses on results and timeless techniques to get them. There are no tricks, silver bullets, or single venue gimmicks. It's about human behavior and fulfilling compelling needs in consumers, for good; which I'm assuming is why your business exists.

I recommend you read it.

Okay, if you're still here, let me share a little more about why I liked the book, annotated the book, and changes several client campaigns to reflect it's principles.

I make my living in the digital marketing space. It's a fiercely competitive and challenging space to consistently achieve successes. There are tons of us digital marketers and the landscape is always changing. What? MySpace is coming back? See.

Likewise, there are lots of digital marketing books. Again, lots of us and things are always changing. That's why I approach all Internet marketing books with skepticism and a realization that it will probably be obsolete in six months, tops.

However, there's a little secret elite marketers hold close. People, even in Fortune 500 companies, make the ultimate buying decision. And ultimately, people only separate from their money, even corporate money, when they feel something good will happen.

That requires Impact.

This book literally takes you through the formula for building companies, platforms, and campaigns that thump people in the chest. That's impact.

It's the unexpected human touch: a favorite CD laid on your hotel pillow, a reply via email or twitter directly from an executive or celebrity, an opportunity to contribute to an awesome project or charity, a one on one conversation with a favorite author.

Easy on a small scale you say? Thankfully, The Impact Equation stays grounded in reality. The book goes on to educate you on how to scale Platforms and Networks to satisfy even the most ravenous marketers' need for high quality and quantity of responses. Impact.

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have done it again (I was a big fan of Trust Agents too); they have teamed up to show you how to make your marketing more human and your customers fanatical by returning your customers emotions with yours.

Grab a copy!
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on October 26, 2012
I teach a graduate course in New Media Marketing, and want to adopt this book for my course. Chris and Julien provide a simple formula for creating content that moves your audience to action. In every instance, they provide real world examples of how each part of the equation has yielded success for them as well as other well known people, companies and organizations.

My class starts with online influence, then helps students to leverage content marketing, mobile and game-based marketing, location and more. There are different tools and sites that are currently in vogue for each of these areas, but what I love about The Impact Equation is that it transcends any specific tools or social networks: the principles Chris and Julien explain apply no matter which channels you use to reach your audience. Whatever your goals are, this book can help you achieve them, because it focuses on the people you want to reach, rather than the latest social network or mobile app.

Like most people, I have precious little time to read, and I need to choose the best industry publications to stay current in my field for teaching. Having read Chris's blog for years, I've come to rely on him for consistently top-quality content. I also knew from reading Trust Agents that he and Julien are the real deal: any publication of theirs will be informative and worth reading.

The Impact Equations does not disappoint! They get right to the "good stuff," explaining The Impact Equation (yes, it's an actual equation) and what each part of the process is for building your online influence. The rest of the book expounds on each element, providing plenty of industry examples and thought provoking exercises to ensure that you're able to apply the equation to your unique goals and objectives.

The insights you'll gain from this book are worth much more than this book costs. I liked it so much that I bought one even though I had already received a review copy. The Impact Equation is so good that I wanted to share it, but didn't want to part with my own well loved, dog-eared copy!

Buy this book and read it more than once. Take Chris and Julien's advice to heart, apply it to your online efforts, then watch your content make a whole new impact on your audience.
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on December 30, 2013
This book is a mess. It fails both in content as well as in the way the content is presented.
Content: nothing new. You can find everything in your common sense or in other books already written. See for instance books by Seth Godin, Tim Ferris etc. But what is most amazing is that the content is so unclear and naively presented that it makes it doubtful to speak about `content'.
Concepts and ideas are introduced but never developed in a way you understand what the goal of the authors is and their relationship to the whole book.
Every small chapter (paragraph!) reads like a blog post: sufficient in itself but without much connection with the rest.
I do not know whether the authors are good bloggers but they need to seriously think about both their `book writing skills' as well as what they want to write (content) before embarking in a new adventure. This is not a book, it is a manuscript which needs many more editing rounds. I did not read previous books by these authors but I do not care: I am judging this product alone here.
p. 76 "Creating today's garbage is an important aspect of creating tomorrow's gold." It seems it is working for these authors...
Really poor editing. See example below with "Sofia"...
Positive: many short hints to (known) ideas. However, up to you to understand them correctly and develop them.
If the book really has some interesting ideas these should be presented in a much better way. Unless, of course, you leave to the reader to make the best out of them. But then there is no difference from reading the same ideas on a blog...
I read half the book and then I stopped.
I agree with other comments on this book:
- "The style of writing was geared very much towards, what I'm assuming is, the authors' usual reader-base of A.D.D. bloggers or tweeters who can't follow a train of thought past 140 characters."
- "Every section I read, I found myself saying, "Grr, enough already, will you get to the point?!?", and then at the end of the section, feeling that the authors never really did."
- "The whole book is common sense."
And all the positive reviews??? They are written by people who did not understand the content or by other bloggers or `writing guys' or in any case people who expect to get positive feedback in return. In fact, 99% of the reviews they have written have 5 stars. Really no balls :-( That's the way it works.

- The authors at page 20 state "The attributes themselves [whose initials form the acronym C-R-E-A-T-E] are also divided into four sections...: Goals, Ideas, Platform, Human Element". So these should be the subdivisions. However, the main chapters of the book are divided into the subdivisions of the attributes and not the attributes themselves (which become - in the `Contents' - subchapters). This is incoherence to begin with.
- P. 17 Rating each attribute for yourself: "No numbers necessarily, although you can use them if you like (...)". Really? Contradicted at page 38: "1. Pick a metric for everything you're doing that matters."
- The graphs presented on pages 18-19 are nonsense. First, even if you can give a subjective value for each attribute - which of course does not make sense without a reference point! (oh my God!) - at the end, the decision on whether to act or not depends on how high you score, which again is completely arbitrary. Utter nonsense.
- Page 23: "Why is this guy not world famous?" Perhaps because he does not give a damn to being famous?? Is `being famous' the ultimate goal of every human being? In other words: would he really care about being famous maybe he would have a thought about having a platform... Naïve reasoning.
- No sentence or explanation on how to `understand clearly your goals' p. 25.
- Again, page 36: `Two ways to Achieve Your Goals" are indicated but not developed.
- P. 38: `Action: Get Your Game Face On" does this have to do with "Goals"? Yes? Explain how!
- Part 2: the concept of "Idea" is never really nailed down so that you understand what it exactly is. Is that "content"? Is that what?
- P. 60: "This means we need a process. We need a methodology. We need a laboratory. Thankfully, the Web has evolved to give you exactly that." So is the process the same as a methodology and the same as a laboratory? No explanation. No development.
- P. 62-63: "(...), in both Contrast and Articulation, the two attributes by which we judge any idea.": The first time the authors connect attributes with their subdivisions...
- P. 63: "Everyone likes a success story, even when it really isn't a success story but a barrage of ideas, some successful and some not. The rest is done in the audience's head, constructing a narrative of success even when that isn't how it happened at all." Is that really so? Explain please. But no explanation is provided.
- P. 72: "Recognizing a Good Idea" What the authors actually want to say is "We really do not have a clue. Try it out and you will discover by yourself!".
- P. 74: "To this point, save the `storms' for when you've got a bit of a framework going, and then let them loose." What is in this context a `framework' and when is it `going'?
- P. 75: "A preexisting idea that feels developed enough to share." What is a `preexisting idea'? P. 76: "Once you see what emotion you are able to create and what emotion your audience tends to respond to, it's time to create smart content around those feelings and wrap smart ideas around them." Is this the way to create good ideas and content??? Too simplistic.
- P. 77: "Contrast: A Quick Definition". After 77 pages this is the first definition - even if a sloppy one - of one of the basic terms used in this book.
- P. 80: "Sofia Walker". Three lines below it is "Sophia" and on page 84 again "Sofia". Hey editor do you know what proofreading is!?!??!?!?
- P. 82: "The bravery was in bringing a new idea into play that ran counter to the obvious and the acceptable." What is the `obvious' and `acceptable'?
- P. 86: "Have you ever noticed how the most effective episodes of a television series are those where emotional things happen to the main characters?" How was it determined that those were the `most effective' episodes? Provide data, references please.
- P. 96: "Articulation". It is simple according to the authors: Use simple words. Use fewer words.  Way too simple for these authors... But still, they need 35 pages to make the point. In fact the chapter is redundant. (Still contradiction at page 114: "Make what you do extremely concise and clear or extremely long and profoundly explained. Either method is a form of clarity if properly used." If properly used. Up to you to use it properly )
- P. 103: "Find unexpected patterns: There are patterns everywhere. If you look carefully you can see..." But HOW??? How to find unexpected patterns? By `looking carefully'?  What is a `pattern'? And then: does this have to do with "Articulation" (the current chapter)? No. It has to do with `Contrast". Many things in this chapter have nothing to do with articulation... (e.g. p. 108: "Business Ideas").
- P. 107: Finally the definition of "Idea"?? "(...) you can look at `idea' as meaning `project' or `thought you want to communicate' or `mission' or many other things. It all works out the same." Thank you guys. Thank you!
- P. 123: "The triangle method" SO POOR!!!!!
- P. 125: "One example of this would be the way that Julien wrote The Flinch." Is that English??
- P. 127: "How clear is your idea? This is an important section of the equation because you only get one chance to leave a strong impression." This is in direct contradiction with what stated before in the book, e.g. "Creating today's garbage is an important aspect of creating tomorrow's gold." (p. 76). Not that I would agree but this (and many other similar statements) is what you wrote before...
- ...
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on October 25, 2012
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have hit a home-run. The plain style language and conversational flow of the book make it very approachable. I believe I may be using this book and the Equation itself in a unique way.I am a teacher at Lawton Chiles Preparatory School in Cassellberry, FL. In my classes we have a secondary curriculum called "Positive Digital Footprint". In that time we encourage students to not only create social media but promote it as well. I have used The Impact Equation as a text. We not only try to rise above the noise and chatter of the masses, but also shamelessly promote ourselves, our interests and our causes in a positive and responsible manner. This book outlines how to do just that. We are not looking for a profit monetarily, but we do want to create value just the same. My labs and my school use the Impact Equation as a rubric for presentations as well. Students are versed in the meaning of Cx(R+E+A+T+E) and score one another and themselves accordingly. The Articulation informs my academic score, and the rest becomes part of their character grade. The kids know that they need to CREATE in order to get that 500! Point being, the Impact Equation is great for my individual endeavors, as a blogger, writer, activist (@ConHippy) and teacher.

My Students wish to share.

Charlie says:

"I think it is very useful because it helps me understand what I can improve in my presentation. like articulation which basic means if I say, 'um,' 'ah,' stutter, or if I actually studied what I am supposed to say. We use it to score how effective the presentation was. It helps to gauge the audience participation."

Nelson Says:
"The Impact Equation has helped out the students and the teachers of Lawton Chiles Preparatory School #chilesprep. The Equation was first introduced to us by #MrKRoom3. At first I thought the Idea was pointless. As we continued to get more projects we used the Equation. I then started to realize how effective this Equation was. We haven't changed the Equation at all this entire school year. I'm very proud to be using this grading Equation."
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on October 25, 2012
I do love EQUATIONS! Trust me I am an engineer! So I start to read this book looking for formulas! But Chris and Julien have that particular talent to write about complex things and translate it in such a way that you can actually make things happen.

Was I disapointed not finding tons of equations? Not really! Instead, It made me think of my actual web strategy and I implement changes right away!

Often, books like The Impact Equation suggests reflexions, excercices, etc. With The Impact Equation: I did them all! I even wrote IN THE BOOK with a pen! (I usually never do that)

Special thanks to Julien: "J'ai eu du fun à lire ce livre!"

So in the end, I recommend The Impact Equation! Because for your second book (after Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust), you deliver... again!
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on October 25, 2012
Some artforms are impossible to teach.

Somehow, authors Julien Smith and Chris Brogan distilled down the art of how to make an impact online. And they should know.

They're some of the most influential people on the Web. Both authors practice what they preach, and they've been doing it for decades (collectively). So, you get all the value of their experience packed into less than 300 pages.

Julien and Chris use stories and examples that bring their strategies to life. So, instead of having a bunch of vague ideas or a general concept of what to do, you'll find yourself saying, "OK, cool. I can go do that."

I've already purchased a dozen extra copies to give to some of my teammates and business friends. It's that kind of book.

Get "The Impact Equation." Read it. Takes notes. But most importantly, APPLY the equation today.

You'll thank yourself later.
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on November 4, 2012
The Impact Equation is great for marketing/social media professionals - or folks starting their own business - who need to step back from the dizzying array of tools and metrics software and figure out, what they actually want to DO with what they have. Having been on many social media channels when they first started, I notice the patterns for these books. The first wave of social media books talked about the revolution social media channels would present. The second wave focused on the tools and the metrics methods. This is the third wave that takes social media marketing back to its roots - real business - but somehow manages to weave in the "what is it all for?" subtext throughout.

Written in an engaging style, and looking at it from several levels of experience/need, The Impact Equation is a great book for folks who have to do the work and make a hands-on difference to themselves or their companies. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, only because I felt a few more practical/metrics-laden case studies were needed, to balance out the anecdotal tone and examples. But regardless of that, it sets out a strong structure for success and one that is adaptable to your situation regardless of where you start - because everyone wants to have impact.
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on February 17, 2013
It would be hard not to like this book or find it useful. Like the authors (as portrayed on their on-line blogs and sites) it is open, entertaining and helpful despite the fact that it makes me feel rather old. I have never played Pokeman.
I loved the practical bits of information regarding blogging and social media, and the usage of current
examples and stories.
The caveat is this, When I read through the reviews of the reviews of this book, I felt that authors were being reviewed more than the content of the book which is not all that different than the content of their last book. Updated yes, but different not so much so. The authors are clearly worthy of five stars when it being personable and leading by example (heck they even responded to many of the Amazon reviewers) but I guess I was a little disappointed in the recycling of many of the ideas. I look to the authors as pioneers going beyond what we already know and had hoped to see more of that pioneering spirit in this book. However even tho I didn't catch that spirit the book has a place in my library.
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