Book Review: The Now Revolution



The Now Revolution book reviewThe Now Revolution (affiliate link), co-authored by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund, offers 7 shifts on the adaptation of social media within your organization to meet the expectations of your customers.  This book is a book of guidance and all you would expect with that guidance. They are not just writing the words, they are giving hard examples for each major point they are making. If you are new to social media or are seeking some guidance as to how it all fits together and into your overall marketing strategy, this is the book that you will keep referring back to. It is not one that will be thrown up on the shelf and dusted off every so often. No, it will be one that you keep close by to double check that you are staying on top of The Now Revolution.

The Now Revolution 7 Shifts

Shift 1: Engineer a New Bedrock. No this is not the whistle blowing 5pm slide down the dinosaur bedrock, this is your corporate culture. The 5 attributes of a healthy real time culture is immediately followed by the cultural roadblocks to social media. They go to great lengths to first map out the attributes and then what walls are met in the adoption. Adoption of social media cannot be half hearted and the true concept of going all in applies. They walk you through this process of identifying your corporate culture even if you are a sole proprietor and how you assess that culture. There is even a quiz!

Shift 2: Find Talent You Can Trust. Talent who does a great job is not always talent you can trust. In the digital age, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips and finding talent who is qualified and also worthy of your trust is how we hire today. The bottom line is that the customer experience starts with the employees you hire. How their personalities fit within the corporate culture travels down to the customers. There is an important reminder at the end of this shift, the 9 elements of finding talent you can trust (these elements will change the way you go about the hiring process)!

Shift 3: Organize Your Armies. This shift jumps immediately into the big question that so many companies have: who is responsible for the social media – which department? The answer is simpler than we ever thought. Social media is not a specialty per se and treating the entire organization as part of the social media team is truly how a successful social media strategy is created and executed. I naturally loved this shift as it has references to football and that is something that I can relate easily to. They do not leave you hanging as they delve into not only the team, forming the team but also the social  media policies for the organization. Guidance. Jay and Amber guide you every step of the way.

Shift 4: Answer the New Telephone. This shift is where I can see many coming back and reviewing over and over. Listening. Jay and Amber provide a foundation for which you can build upon. Here they explain how we listen, what we listen for and how listening is not limited to just the marketing/PR departments for brand mentions. Listening is for the entire organization with sales, customer service, HR for new hires, etc. They round out the shift with the levels of listening. Grab your pen and paper for this shift as a lot of notes will be taken.

Shift 5: Emphasize Response-Ability. Listening is the most important in social media. We learn from listening however we also have to respond and engage. Shift 5 walks you through the different avenues of engagement and how to keep your story straight when multiple people are responding and engaging. This section was a bit slow for me as I have good foundation on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and engaging however for someone new or unsure how they can engage via the various platforms, a lot can be learned here.

Shift 6: Build a Fire Extinguisher. This shift walks you through with some fantastic examples, when a crisis is fueled. Regardless of how big or small your business is, you need to build that fire extinguisher or at the very least have a resource available to help walk you through some steps that would need to be taken. When a crisis hits (ie a bad tweet, a blog comment that was not putting your best foot forward, etc) we are not thinking about anything other than how can we fix it fast. We forget some of the steps to take. Flag this section so that if you are faced with a crisis, your resources is readily available.

Shift 7: Make a Calculator. This is where many probably wished they went to first. ROI! It is the biggest and never ending question in social media – what is the ROI? Well, get off that train and look at the bigger picture. The GOALS! You cannot start to measure anything unless you have goals to measure and achieve. What is your share of voice? Driving sales is a goal just as is building the email list and repeat customers. Just as with a billboard, it is very hard to definitively calculate the ROI in social media.

The Now Revolution has so many takeaways that it is hard to just throw a few out there. Jay and Amber definitely delivered with this book and certainly did not disappoint. There is a lot to be learned for folks new to social media and a whole lot to be refined for those that have been hanging around in the social media neck of the woods. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I keep it nearby and have already referred back to it quite a few times in tweaking my social media strategy. Again, it is a book that guides you and trust me, it will be very helpful to you.

Building Relationships that Matter

chris brogan, lucinda devries, suzanne varaWe are taught to build relationships from a very young age through socializing with other children at daycare, preschool or play dates with children who are born to friends of our parents. It is instilled within us to play nice with the other children as no parent wants their child to be the bad kid. As we grow and develop stronger socialization skills, we seek out friends with whom we share interests. My BFF in elementary school was Terry. She was the youngest of 10 children (8 girls and 2 boys) and  was the best friend anyone could have. When I think of my childhood, she comes to mind as there was more days spent together than not. She was and is truly an amazing person to know.

We cherish our friends and will do anything for them to make their lives easier. There is just something about certain people that draws us to them. We know in the first few seconds of meeting them that there is a connection and they are here to stay. About a year ago, I met Chris Brogan. He was speaking in CA, and as luck would have it, my very dear friend Lucinda DeVries (more on her later) invited me and my son to come to CA, go to the beach and for us gals to go and hear him speak and attend the book signing for Trust Agents. Andrew and I were very happy when we jumped into the car until 20 minutes into the trip, the freeway was a parking lot. We sat in traffic for 1.5 hrs.

The Relationships that Matter

Social media has afforded us the opportunity to meet a lot of people. We gain insight as to who they are through their profiles, blogs, with whom they associate and our interactions with them. When we are first starting out on Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, commenting on blogs and even Facebook, we look for that acceptance. We know that conversations are happening but yet there is hesitation to jump in. Once we are able to jump in, we find an entirely new world and start building relationships. There are some people we just click with and feel like we have known them forever.  We like them and look forward to seeing them each day on their blog, on our blog and in our platform streams. Chris Brogan is one of those people. My friend and I waited 1.5 hours in line to get our books signed. She and I entertained ourselves quite well as I spilled hot chocolate all over myself, we talked about everything and anything which made the wait seem not so long. We approached and he was tired. He greeted us, happily took a picture and chatted for a minute. I just knew that he would be my friend and it would be a friendship that I would hold near, dear and cherish. So many of us know how amazing he is, how he gives countless hours of himself to the on and offline communities, how he inspires us and challenges us to challenge ourselves. He is a thought leader, he has opened the doors up for us all to come in and experience social media and relationship building through his countless hours dedicated to the world of social.

Welcome to the Community

I have been welcomed into his community so much so that he dedicated an entire post to, well, me (that is a whole lot of real estate afforded to me). It is overwhelming to think about it. Not only is the post single handedly the nicest, kindest and most  powerful words that anyone has ever said about me, it literally left me speechless. Damn him as that does not happen with me. No, No, speechless is not something people would associate with me! My mouth was wide open, my eyes welled up and I sat in amazement. I refreshed to be sure that it was real and then just sat there staring at it. I naturally thanked him and then sent a DM to Marjorie as I was so happy that she was mentioned as yes we did speak about her, her blog and what a great person she is.

My Community of Greatness

This post is not to create a Vara-Brogan lovefest. Nah, he knows what I think of him and well I guess we all know what he thinks of me. It illustrates how we are able to build relationships by a brief meeting and support it with social media. We can stay connected despite being across the country from one another. I like Chris and he pushes me to be better and stronger. But he is not the only one … there are others that inspire me, some I have met face to face and others I have on my Must Meet list (yes it is a real list). If you have not connected with them,  I say run and and do so as they are incredible people that brighten my day.

Lucinda DeVries. This is one special lady. I met Luc 8 years ago as she was being interviewed at the ad agency I worked at. In the first minute of meeting her, we clicked. Our love of Jim Rome and football (she is a Denver fan, but I forgive her for that) was exposed and I knew that I would be lucky to spend my days with her at work. My boss made the right choice and hired her. She lives in CA now so we do not get to see each other as much but she is my go to. She is a wonderful person to know and is looking for work. Please if you know of anyone seeking a marketing manager/director she is the one. Trust me.

Marjorie Clayman. This ad maven is drowning in sports loss in Akron. The Indians, Lebron, it goes on and on. She has gained a fan though in me. Her blog posts are superb, the value she adds to the twitter chats and the online community are rock solid. Marjorie is so dedicated to her 3rd generation family agency, Clayman Advertising and her connection to the community of Akron gives insight to who she is and her loyalty. Follow her and talk to her on Twitter at RLMadMan. You will be glad that you did as this is one person we all need to know and associate with.

Amber Naslund. I had a brief meeting with Amber at BlogWorld last year. She, I believe, has created and paved the way for Community Managers/Directors of Community through her guidance and leadership at Radian6. Her blogs at Brass Tack Thinking are top notch and her contributions to the overall online community do not go unnoticed. As a single mom, I can relate to the time restraints, the switching of gears from a business person to watching the Elmo DVD 5x in a row. Amber is a role model.

Tom Martin. My fav! We all know my admiration and #1 man crush for Tom. He is good people. He has inspired me countless times as not only did he do something that was never done before in livestreaming Mardi Gras, he, like Marjorie, has strong ties to his community. Tom and his family stayed in NOLA after Katrina; yeah, he was the guy that when they were allowed to go back in to retrieve some items from his home brought the police and rescue workers water and Gatorade (I think). Simple right but yet he was thinking of others when he had no idea what condition his house was in. He writes for AdAge, his blog Positive Disruption that never disappoints, loves sports and beer so we fit into each others communities just fine.  I probably could write a book on how great I think Tom Martin is.

DJ Waldow. DJ is on my must meet list. He, like Amber, is has helped to define and mold the role of Community Manager/Director of Community through his work at for Blue Sky Factory. He by far is one of the happiest dads I have ever seen. DJ is real and makes us root for him in getting his inbox to a manageable level. He says Dude which makes him even cooler and more likable.

Jim Mitchem. Jim is not your usual copywriter. He is such a great, funny and yet oh so snarky guy. He gives me the business about the Mets which I welcome from him. He is a family guy that keeps me laughing regularly with his way with words. Jim is brilliant and his blog Obsessed with Conformity shows us really how brilliant he is.

Dan Perez. He is new to my community but as a Mets fan and friendly with Tom Martin, I welcomed him with open arms. He is an award winning film maker in Florida, formerly NYC, who is always there to lend a hand. He has found his way around twitter chats and is one to keep a watchful eye on.

Tee Riddle. Tee is my fav gardener. He is a part of the Skype chat group that I was invited into. He is a southerner who is always ready to compliment but also to get in some cheap shots.  He is a die hard VT fan but also a Braves fan. We manage to make that part work. He shares some very valuable gardening tips and tools over at his blog

Keith Bloemendaal. Keith like Tee is a part of the Skype chat group. I have been fortunate to be a guest blogger on 2 of Keith’s blogs, Hot Blog Tips and also Extreme Social Media. He is a good guy who is there to answer questions and also make me laugh. He is good people for sure.

Patrick Petruccello. Oh Patrick is one of my oldest friends. Patrick, the famed Kahuna of KahunasFoodWine on Twitter and I went to elementary and HS together. He comes from a good italian family that lived across the street from my grandmother. Despite living a block away, it was always a good excuse to go over there and see if Patrick was around. Patrick’s cooking vids at clearly show the life of a family man-artist-turning chef. He is not around all that much on Twitter but you can catch his articles on Cork’d. The guy knows his wine.

Beth Harte. Beth is best said one spectacular lady. She did amazing things while at Marketing Profs (if you are not a member, join now) and now at Serengeti Communications. I did spend a little bit of time with her last year at BlogWorld which was by far one of the highlights of the conference. She moderates the IMCchat 8pm EST, Wednesdays and responds to questions with such well thoughtout answers. She is one to be sure to get to know and talk to.

Andrew Kolyvas. Andrew is also a part of the Skype chat group but he also is the reason this blog is still here today. A few months back when I was infected 2x with a virus, he took care of it. I am indebted to him as he was kind and patient the first time and walked me though the entire process to rid it of the virus. When it came back, he practically rebuilt the entire site and I remain virus free. He is an Aussie so ladies, if you have site problems and you dig the aussie accent, he is your guy.

There are so many more people that inspire me each day and light a fire under me. I welcome all new members to my community and cherish my relationship with every one. I am so very lucky to have such wonderful people around me that care and are role models.

Chris Brogan has set the bar really high here for me and while I am incredibly grateful and could thank him a gazillion times, I am channeling that energy into the community I have created and want to create. I am so very fortunate to have him as my friend and he is so dead on that my mind does work faster than I am able to get out. I never did realize how I am viewed as to me, I look in the mirror and see just me.  I just try and share in my community members’ happiness, sadness, stress and hits to the preverbial wall.

Social Media – Join the Conversation

brand controlSocial media is the buzz these days and companies time and time again are told they have take part.  The fear that the control will shift from the company to the consumer has created chaos of sorts where some companies are jumping in without really knowing why or how. Think of face to face networking. Someone new starts to come around and you see them everywhere talking to everyone they possibly can and then poof they are gone. Why? They did not get what they expected and abandoned ship.  Same goes for social media where the expectations and immediate gratification is high but the feedback and acceptance is low so they disappear.

In a recent post, I spoke about the consumer controlling the brand. Your brand is your message and there is no way the consumer can control that.  They can influence sales and credibility with positive or negative experiences  but not control. I came across a fantastic article by Amber Naslund who really breaks down the control in her article Social Media and the Reality of Control.

…There are a few different things we need to talk about in context of the idea of control.

1. How You Present Yourself

You’ve always held the keys to how you put your business out into the world, or how you educate your employees about your purpose and values. Everything from your logo to your collateral to how your customer service department behaves is under the umbrella of your presentation as a company. You get to decide how you do this part. You make the rules about what you put out there in terms of sanctioned image, content, or message. That’s always been true, and that hasn’t changed. You have every bit the control over the presentation of your company as you always have.

2. How You Are Perceived and How People React
This is the bit where we’re talking about businesses never really having control. You can’t dictate how people think, period. You couldn’t do it before the world of social technologies, and you can’t do it now. You can present yourself and hope to influence that perception, but you cannot control it.

The difference is that today, with the prevalence and ubiquity of the internet, there are lots of places for people to share those perceptions with their friends and the world at large (including your customers, prospects, employees, and people not connected to you at all). So you haven’t lost any control. People are still reacting to your business the way they always have. Now, they’ve got more tools with which to share those viewpoints, and they’re more visible and sharable.

Worried that the danger is in your own house? That employees are going to misrepresent you if you give them tools to do so? Hint: they already have them. They’re called the phone on their desk, and the email account with your domain on it, and their own voice and personal lives. You trust them as representatives of your business in every other communication channel. If you don’t trust them here, you have a hiring problem or an education problem, but not a control problem. The tools are not the issue.

3. What You Do With What You Learn

Ultimately, you decide how you’re going to absorb and assimilate #2 into #1. As a business, if you’re listening and paying attention to how people are articulating those perceptions, you still have the choice as to what you’re going to do with that information. You can change everything. You can change nothing at all.

The reason social media advocates get up in your grill is because they’re afraid that #2 is happening, but that it’s not informing #1, and that the two may even be working at cross purposes. They (we) also believe that there’s probably some insights that your customers and community can give to you that might actually help make your business better, whether it’s reinforcement of what you’re doing well, criticism intended to point out potential weaknesses, or a way of looking at your business or describing your value in a way you may never have thought of.

The truth is that, with the rare trollish exception, people aren’t expressing their opinions about your company because they don’t care. They’re not trying to wrest your brand from you and create some brand alter-ego doppleganger thing, and they’re not using YouTube or Facebook or their blog to try and overthrow you as the masters of your brand domain. In fact, most people don’t want that kind of responsibility.

They’re trying to tell you what matters to them and what would make your business more useful and helpful to them (read: what makes them spend money on you), in whatever medium they think you’ll notice. They’re not trying to control your brand. They’re trying to get your attention.

You have all the control you want over #3. Using social media strategies and tools can help you with #2, if you’reengaging with the intent to hear and the intent to consider what those folks are telling you. That builds trust. It lets people know you’re paying attention and that you value their voice. It’s not a promise of action, but it’s a demonstration of awareness.

But control? You have as much as you always did. Now, you’ve got more accountability and expectations surrounding your business because of social media. People are watching to see how you respond to both. Ultimately, what you do with any of it is completely up to you.

See the difference? What do you think?

“More accountability and expectations surrounding your business because of social media” says it all (wish I thought of that). The reality is that a company has a choice whether to take part in social media or not however the conversation is always happening about your company – whether you are there or not.  That is the dynamic that social media brings.  Yes, prior to social media people shared positive and negative experiences with friends and family but how they are sharing with a community.  A community that listens and is willing to share.  This is where the influence comes in – the consumer may control the bottom line of sales but never the brand.

Takeaway – it is a choice to engage in social media.  Having an opportunity to talk directly to your customers and in real time and see what they are saying about you should matter, right?

Agree or disagree?  Share your thoughts and open up the conversation.

photo credit: faramarz