I don't know that there are any shortcuts to doing a good job.
—Sandra Day O'Connor
Author of an acclaimed book on social media and business, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture.
As a principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm, Solis works with businesses on new media strategies and frameworks to build bridges between companies and customers, employees, and other important stakeholders. Additionally, he specializes in change management to help businesses (and their leadership teams) introduce new media resources, systems and processes, and management layers to effectively embrace and excel around the connected customer.
His blog, BrianSolis.com, is among the world’s leading business and marketing online resources, ranking among the top 1 percent of all blogs tracked by Technorati. Solis is also ranked as one of the leading voices in the AdAge Power 150 index of worldwide marketing bloggers. He has also contributed to FastCompany, BusinessWeek, AdAge, Harvard Business Review, and Mashable. His next book, The End of Business as Usual, will be published this September.
The social media space is continually evolving, and I think that’s what makes writing a book about social media both difficult and impractical. That’s why both editions of Engage have nothing to do with tools, so much as they do with understanding the needs of customers and those who are influencing them, and examining their decision-making cycle—where they went for information, how they shared, how they connected with one another, and why. And then also examining what it would take for them to engage with the brand not just today, but over time. And in turn, really looking at how a business could first recognize and then appreciate the opportunity that was before them in terms of engagement.
Because really, what the book, in version one and version two, set out to accomplish was to demonstrate the need and opportunity for businesses to shift from a one-to-many broadcast model in all that they do—marketing, communications, advertising—and to complement that with a way that would allow a brand and its brand story (the brand promise, its value) to connect with that consumer directly, and then in turn activate that consumer to be an extension of that story. Because that’s really what this is all about: an audience with an audience of audiences.
The difference between the two editions of Engage was not about technology at all. Revising it was merely a way to tell the story about brand engagement in a different way—so the same story, but a different approach. I listened to everybody who reviewed or read Engage and gave me feedback, and the things that they loved and the things that they didn’t love, and it was interesting that there were two camps. There was the camp that loved version one for its depth and its academic approach, the prose, the narrative. And then there were those who just didn’t need that depth. So it had an opposite effect. Yet the first version did very well, and it’s still doing very well. Lots of universities are using it, and a lot of people pick that up as individuals to help their brands and also help their careers.
I was asked as the book was going into paperback, “Do you want to make any changes?” And I think they were really asking, “Do you have any updates or any small things that you want to do before it goes into paperback printing?” But I sort of took the opportunity to rewrite the whole book. I cut out 35,000 words, cut out 40 different topics, introduced new topics, changed the narrative and the style, and just focused it for a different type of reader. I had in mind a reader who needs information quickly, needs to understand what is taking place and what to do about it, and needs to know how to build a strategy without having to go through the backstory of how strategy might work or not work within their organization. I revised it for someone who was not looking for the deep dive or the long cycle of education, but who needed the insight necessary to execute quickly.
So it’s a different read, and if you found yourself sort of enjoying the experience of the original version, it’s not unlike watching a movie and then watching the director’s cut with the deleted scenes and extra footage and maybe a different ending. That’s the sort of approach I share with people who read the first Engage and ask me if they should also buy the revised edition: That if they liked it, then yes, the second Engage is definitely worth the read—and it’s about half the cost of the hardcover. But for other people, money is tight, and they’re more than fine with just the first edition. They lose nothing by not reading the second edition.