A while ago I decided I was going to quit buying books by the big thinkers of the digital world. In my experience the books are inevitably too long and feel a little dated by the time they get released. Plus it always seems a weird way of consuming knowledge about this sort of thing when I can read and comment on the blogs for free.
Nonetheless I had a few Amazon vouchers left over at Christmas so decided to take a punt on ‘Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do’ by Euan Semple.
I’ve come across Mr Semple before, his work at the BBC is often held up as an early example of social media in practice and I even followed him in my early days on Twitter (before I radically changed the way I used it) so I was interested in what he had to say. Also it is fair to say I have been looking for inspiration recently – I’ve felt a strong need to reignite my passion for what I do.
This is a *very* optimistic book it has to be said. It talks about the opportunities and possibilities that social media offers and while it acknowledges the challenges it doesn’t dwell on them.
It is too long – like all of these books – and reads a little anachronistic at times (the regular mention of ‘forums’ feels strange – but I think it is used in a generic term to include all sorts of tools). That said the great saving grace with the format is the list of bullet point takeaways at the end of each chapter. That is a great idea and works especially well.
The book is best (IMHO) when it is talking about the cultural changes needed in organisations that are a) caused by this new culture and b) need to be embraced to make the most of these changes. I especially liked his thoughts on the new role a manager needs to take in this world (maybe as it mirrors my own thoughts!) and also the ideas around a kind of ‘corporate democracy’ powered by internal social tools.
When he writes about the culture of sharing and helping online and the way you can know people better you have only met online than those you sit with at work everyday it felt familiar to me. This is the social web I signed up for but had lost faith in somewhat. He also summed up one of my big bugbears when he talked about how marketing has subsumed an element of social media (to its detriment) but that is just one area and we shouldn’t cede it all.
I’ll be honest I didn’t feel like the book was saying very much new – but it did say it all very well. Would it help senior managers understand this world better? I don’t know – it feels a little like preaching to the converted at times – but it certainly gave me a boost and I can’t ask for more than that.