Social Media 103: Reading Assignments

Posted by Brian Reich, Mar 24, 2010 0 comments

Brian Reich

We last discussed the key to an effective social media campaign. Here are some additional thoughts and resources from me to help you going forward.

When I wrote my book, Media Rules!, I set out to address this challenge faced by organizations and help shape the ways organizations can communicate with their audience, in the face of rapid innovation in technology and the massive social change we are currently (and it seems constantly) experiencing. The book offers a roadmap for helping organizations, including newspapers, to understand what the audience expects and how to use technology to meet those expectations. More than that, however, it highlights the other things that you need to take into account—how you staff and manage your team, how you support your partners, and how customer service has changed. These things are important to consider because executing on an effective new media strategy, whether it is online community based or something else, requires buy-in from all levels and close coordination among all the different elements of your organization.

Second, there are literally hundreds of books, articles and blog posts that offer interesting insights into the opportunities that exist for using web 2.0 technologies to support your work, and your communications. I try to look for articles that are not specific to one subject, so that you can take lessons and ideas from other sectors and apply them to your work. So that is what I have tried to do here—below is a list of recent articles that I have found particularly interesting and useful:

Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine and the author of The Long Tail (the book that singlehandedly changed the face of eCommerce forever), has a new book, Free. I recommend the book, but if you aren’t sure, he previewed subject in a cover story for Wired Magazine, also conveniently titled "Free."  "Free" is important, because it speaks to how to get audiences to pursue more information (and if you need to monetize or measure in the process, how to do that). Here is the link:

McKinsey Quarterly published an article over a year ago that highlighted 8 trends relating to the future of communications. Every single point in this article is relevant to the work that you do—maybe not today, but certainly in the near future. Here is the link:

Clearly, President Obama's campaign figured out better than anyone how to use technology and the internet to engage and mobilize a community online, at least in the context of politics. His campaign is not a model for everything, but there are elements of what he did that are applicable to your work and represents the way many organizations are going to have to operate in the near future if they want to be successful. 

Two quick notes: First, I believe much of the analysis you will find in the media of his campaign's use of technology to build and support his community is flawed—the press has written that his building of his own social network, using text messaging, or posting videos on YouTube were the key to his success.  But, as we know from our discussion, it goes much deeper than that. Second, while I acknowledge that he has been extremely successful in many aspects of his campaign thanks to this effective use of technology, I think suggestions that he has radically changed politics are overstated, so take this with a grain of salt. He has not been able to port his strategy for winning the campaign to help advance his legislative agenda fully either. So, to be clear, what President Obama and his team did was run a traditional political campaign more efficiently and effectively than any before (and who knows, maybe any ever)—and technology was a prime reason for that. 
If you have truly dynamic educational opportunities, technology will allow you to scale you operation and reach new potential audiences more effectively than ever before. However, if President Obama had not had the right message, great timing, and a supportive political environment, the technology would have had little impact. Without that core to fuel your efforts, you will fail (just as the Obama campaign would have if they did not have the best campaign strategy for the time). So, if you have a solid organizational understanding of how to communicate with your audience, you can start to apply technology and the internet as effectively as the Obama campaign did. Or, you may need to take a hard look at every aspect of your organization before you try to figure out how technology and the internet could be used to expand your reach and impact.

Here are some links to articles that I think do a good job explaining what the Obama campaign did and why it mattered.

How the internet Put Barack Obama In The White House

How Obama Killed Election Day and Became The Next President

Campaigns in A Web 2.0 World

Propelled by the Internet, Barack Obama Wins

I blog about these subjects quite a bit—so feel free to look at my blog,, or a couple of other blogs that I write for -- and
Third, if you are looking to fill your bookshelf with some key reading that will help you understand the broad social theories driving changes online, and the increase in the community-driven nature of communications, consider reading these:

- The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
- Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger
- Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
- Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
- A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
- What Would Google Do? By Jeff Jarvis
- Socialnomics by Erik Qualman

And specifically for information about to target audiences, and in some cases younger generations and how their perspectives and capabilities are different...

- Microtrends by Mark Penn
- Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser
- Growing Up Digital by Don Tapscott

These are just a few of the must-read books out there today. New ones are being released every day. You probably don't have to read each of these books cover to cover to understand what is happening, and how to apply the changes we are seeing to your work–in fact, I keep them (and dozens of others) as reference books on my desk, referring to them regularly to help translate what is happening day to day. There are no guides. There are no answers. But these books will help you to think differently about communications, and the use of technology and the internet, and set you up for greater success over time.

I could go on and on, but this is just the beginning of a conversation–and there will be many other opportunities for us to explore these topics together.

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