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Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World Hardcover – May 21, 2012
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"I've known Michael Hyatt for more than a decade, and during that time I've seen him master just about every social media platform that's hit the scene. He's used blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and more to expand his personal platform from a successful book publisher to a leading national brand of his own. Trust me, this guy knows what he's talking about—so pay attention!"
—Dave Ramsey, host of The Dave Ramsey Show and New York Times best-selling author
—Donald Miller, best-selling author of Blue Like Jazz
—Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works, and New York Times best-selling author
About the Author
Michael Hyatt was CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers for six years and now serves as its chairman. He is a professional blogger, author, and speaker whose blog is consistently ranked in the top three for Productivity, Leadership, Publishing, and Social Media Marketing. Hyatt and his wife, Gail, live outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
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1. Prior to the launch of Platform, he mentioned that much of the content was reworked material from old blog posts (which I assumed I had read previously).
2. Since I teach others how to start their own blog, I am already up to my eyeballs in information of this sort.
Therefore, I thought I would hold off and wait until I could get a copy at the library.
Incidentally, I bought the book the day it launched, swayed by all the 5-star reviews, enticed by the freebies he offered during launch week and intrigued by his launch process, which I wanted to watch firsthand (you just never know when that information will come in handy, you know). ;)
I have read the book in full.
Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order:
-- Overall, his tone is very encouraging and inspiring. I've read other how-to books in which the author seems arrogant and condescending, leaving me feeling discouraged and inept by the end. That was not the case here. By the end, I was rearin' to go!
-- He makes a strong case for learning the ins and outs of social media as a way to grow your business, even if you don't have a lot of computer background or if you feel technically challenged. I am also self-taught so I wholeheartedly agree. As he says, the best way to learn, is to dive in and go for it.
-- He talks about the importance of having a blog (or website) which acts as your home base online. I wholeheartedly agree with this point as well. However, like so many others, he doesn't go into great detail about exactly *how* to start a blog other than to offer tips such as "I recommend a WordPress.org blog." On the other hand, he goes into great detail about starting a Twitter account and he devotes several chapters to using Twitter effectively (see below).
-- When looking at his numbers, I do think it's worthwhile to note that even though Hyatt started his blogging and social media journey like many of us (with little background knowledge), he has had significant advantages that I think have helped his online presence grow so well. He is graced with connections to well-known and very influential people (great for interviews, endorsements, etc). It also doesn't hurt to be the Chairman (formerly the CEO) of one of the largest publishing companies in the U.S. :) To be sure, this is well-deserved and his experience is vast. Clearly, he has worked very hard for many years to build a huge network of excellent contacts. He definitely makes no guarantees that if you use his tips, you will reproduce his results, but I do think it is helpful to look at those results with his background in mind. I appreciated seeing his hard numbers (great transparency), but even though my numbers don't come close to his (and I've been at this for years too), I need to look for upward trends, not specific numerical benchmarks, which would indicate growth.
-- It is true, much of the book content is reworked posts that you can find for free on his blog. I found myself thinking many times, "Oh yeah, I remember reading this..." Because I bought the book for $13 and because I got all the freebies along with it, I would gladly pay the same for it again. However, had I bought the book at full price ($24) and didn't get the freebies, I think I would have been disappointed. If you're not already familiar with his blog and don't feel like poking around there to see what he has written in the past, it's probably definitely worth having all that great info packaged so nicely.
-- He offers a lot of tips for Twitter but doesn't talk about Facebook, Google+ or any other social media platform (except to mention he's not a huge fan of Facebook). Clearly this is because he has had the most success on Twitter which is understandable. But to those reading, I do think it's important to know who your audience is before assuming Twitter is the place to be. His target audience might be on Twitter, but if your target audience hangs out on Facebook or Pinterest more than Twitter, you should be on Facebook and Pinterest, not Twitter.
-- True to Michael Hyatt style, the book is absolutely jam-packed with helpful, actionable tips that will help anyone who wants to become active and effective in social media.
I think the challenge for the beginner will be to not get overwhelmed. There is certainly a lot of excellent information, but if you try to take it all in at once, you'll want to run for the hills! Tackle it in small chunks and implement his tips as you have the time. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. It really does take a long time to get established and start seeing results.
I can't remember if he said it explicitly in the book, but I would also add that ideally, you will dive into social media *before* you have something specific to say or sell, not *when* you have something to say or sell. Hyatt's right, it's all about relationships these days, so the sooner you can get those relationships started, the better. Then, when you do have something to say or sell, you can tap into what you've already established.
Overall, it's a great reference that I'm sure I'll be returning to again and again.
Hyatt's depth of knowledge, his practical tips, and examples that resulted in his own success make his message compelling. Yet, he never talks down to the reader. I had never heard of Michael Hyatt until I got his book. I was just looking for a way to believe that social media was worth my while, and a way to get some "science" for how to use it. Hyatt's book provides all of that, and more.
For those critics who note that Hyatt lifted some of his blogs to create the book, I'd say: Right! As experience authors, we ALL snitch stuff from our stash! But the original blog is amplified, updated, polished, and organized into context for the book. I might add that I've read some parts of the book more than once; not because the content is hard to understand, but because it takes much practice to fully implement what he's suggesting.
I can't remember how long ago I bought this book, but I keep going back to it. Honestly, I went from thinking that social media was just a bunch of dribble to believing that social media is the key to getting your message out there if you have anything--anything at all--to say or sell.
I handle all of my books very, very gently. But I've just plain over-used this book. And, I am beginning to want one copy at home, and one at the office!
What I liked about the book--
Clearly and engagingly written.
Organized in 60 short pithy chapters that were apparently originally blog posts. You can easily find the subjects that are relevant to you. (I read the entire book but anticipate using some parts as a reference.)
Very good succinct summaries of what makes a successful blog and a good blog post. Some of it is pretty obvious (post frequently but not too frequently) and some is not (end with question to invite reader participation).
Specifics about the software and services Hyatt actually uses.
Honesty about the time and financial outlay he personally has made. (It took him eight years to reach the level of readership he has now. These days he spends about $1000 a month on his blog--but he makes a good deal more than that and you don't have to start out investing much cash.) He is not offering a get rich quick scheme in other words.
Very specific strategies for "monetizing" your blog.
Lots of detail on how to use Twitter.
Interesting and creative ideas for subjects a novelist could blog about.
What I didn't like--
Too much time spent on uplift (positive thinking--which I actually sort of enjoy but did not buy this book for) and on stating the obvious--defining what "Wow" is for example. A fifth of the book is spent basically saying you need a good product to sell on your blog.
Not as much about using Facebook as I would have preferred. He seems to personally like Twitter a lot more than he likes Facebook.
What the author doesn't say--
Hyatt is a first-rate writer and a charismatic speaker. I'm all for aspiration but if you aren't already skilled you are going to have to spend a good deal of time educating yourself and developing your skillset before you can hope to engage readers and audiences as he does.
He is a motivational speaker and publishing/business guru. The kind of platform he has constructed may be very similar to the one you want if you are in a similar field. Or it may not be. I would advise reading what he has written and then looking at the websites of successful people in your own field.
How much will the time spent on building a platform add to your book sales if you are a serious literary novelist? If you are a science writer? Or in other diverse fields? There is just no data presented here on how much a platform of a particular kind will help you. I'd like to see some.
The hype made me feel a little wary about buying this book, but it has good info and I will use parts of it as a reference.