Tag Archives: social media

Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #17 Age of Context

For those fascinated with wearable technology or struggling to predict the feasible potential of big data, this is a great resource. The Age of Context provides a comprehensive overview of what is likely to happen with location based services, wearable technology, big data, sensors, privacy and mobile in general. For practitioners in social media marketing, it is a must read. 

Age of Context ranks as top social media book

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel as authors of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, also qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel clearly have the technical insights to back their predictions. Their stories of high tech possibilities are backed by their expert grasp of social media behaviors as well as their personal exploration of technology. 
  2. The book fills a gap in contextual marketing and IoT understanding that professors and practitioners otherwise glean from fragmented blogs and research papers on the subject.
  3. The two authors make a great pair.  The seemingly odd pairing – some describe as a technical pundit and business consultant – makes for a dynamic dialog.
  4. The authors provide sound rationale and plenty of examples to back their future vision. This contrasts with the many 2014 predictions that widely overestimate technology adoption. 
  5. The book provides a convincing argument of how context will change how we use technology and social media. This fits in well with curriculum aimed at projecting future behaviors and marketing practices. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. Despite the fascinating perspectives on what big data, the cloud, sensors and Google Glass can offer consumers and brands, the book seems to miss an opportunity to lead the way in contextual marketing. If instead they referenced a number of conceptual or behavioral studies, students might be more convinced of the psychological dimensions of context. Their great chapter on “contextual self,” for example, should be appended by some journal articles on the subject.  
  2. Being a mix of mobile tech and context raises the question of where to position the book in a social media marketing curriculum. If classes are structured around a SoLoMo perspective, the book fits in very well. If not, the book could perhaps follow social advertising as the first exposure to contextual marketing and then lead into an overview of either mobile marketing or technology (e.g., IoT). 
  3. The book’s evolving technology storyline makes it a fun and fascinating read. The authors take a topical approach to introducing a myriad of new tech and changing consumer perspectives. On the other hand, it makes it challenging for professors tasked with constructing critical thinking and strategically oriented exercises as well as tying the topics to learning outcomes.  A suggestion would be to use the book as a prelude to models depicting contextual behaviors or frameworks for dissecting the psychological aspects of context.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for undergraduate and MBA courses in social media marketing as well as IMC.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Age of Context as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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Top 25 Social Media Books for Academia: #18 Think Like a Rock Star

This is a fun book to read. I believe it qualifies as the best on the subject of fan engagement.  In his book “Think Like a Rock Star,” Mack Collier draws a perfect analogy for turning customers into fans much like the way rock stars treat their fans. 

Think Like a Rock Star ranks as top social media book

Mack Collier as author of top social media book

The book, in my opinion, qualifies academically as a supplementary reading for undergraduate level and MBA programs. The recommendation is based on the following:

  1. Few books give such adequate coverage to this part of the sales funnel. Mack offers numerous examples of how powerful fans can be when you relinquish control and let them advocate. The examples start with familiar rock stars for picture stories and progresses through examples of brands that lead the pack in customer advocacy.
  2. Some solid examples are given in later chapters on how to implement brand and customer advisory councils with practical approaches to getting buy-in.
  3. The book provides an excellent example of how employee advocacy can be adopted in the real world of social media skepticism and social business challenges.
  4. His concepts are tightly integrated around “drawing relevant insights from existing customer feedback and conversations, with the end goal of creating more connections with and better understanding fans.” He then explains the value of this customer understanding to the bottom line. Few books tackle this beyond its value in customer service. Instead, Mack ties his concepts to the power of brand ambassadors, employee advocacy and even influence marketing (to a point) in driving business. 
  5. The book is highly current and very relevant to today’s challenge in adopting enterprise-wide programs to implement ambassador programs.
  6. The book is well organized around convincing first, then dealing with tactical issues and finally setting up an organization to mobilize and empower fans and employees. 

What keeps the book, however, from qualifying higher as a primary text for MBA social media courses is the following.

  1. The subject matter applies to one or maybe two classes at the MBA and undergraduate level.
  2. It is tough to draw critical thinking exercises at the end of each chapter. It almost requires you to finish the entire book before assigning case oriented exercises. I believe this can be done, but it will take some work on the part of a professor. 
  3. The last few chapters get highly instructional around the subject of creating and managing councils.  Although beneficial to practitioners tasked with implementing ambassador programs, the detailed steps could lose a student audience more interested in strategy.

Overall Evaluation of Social Media Book

Category: Recommended supplementary reading for MBA/undergraduate in social media marketing or IMC.

Social media book evaluation

Evaluation of Think Like a Rock Star as top social media book

So what is your take on this book being qualified for higher education? Please share your own criteria or what disagreements you have with this book’s academic influence.

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7 Ethical Dilemmas Faced in Content Marketing

With the rise of content marketing, brand marketers and advertisers have found a gold mine of opportunities for reaching and engaging their audiences. What’s more, consumers enjoy the power to invite their potential suitors.

But with this newly discovered consumer freedom to select what they read and who they befriend comes some new ethical challenges. No longer is the information vetted through high journalistic standards. Internet users now have to adopt their own filters for information. In addition, temptations still exist for advertisers to fake their endorsements and literally purchase favorable commentary.

Social Media Ethics

A growing list of ethical dilemmas continues with violations of misrepresentation, privacy, cyber bullying and general “creepiness.” With the arrival of broad reaching and relatively unrestricted social channel communications comes the price of consumer vulnerable to new scams and deception. This is why ethics in social media is now receiving a great deal of attention. At the heart of consumer protectionism in this arena is a concern for trustworthy advice and protection of privacy as it relates to the protection of an individual’s own credibility.

The following are several common ethical dilemmas faced when sales personnel and marketers engage in social media:

Invasion of Privacy

Actions that unknowingly infringe on the privacy of social networking participants should be considered unethical if it potentially harms an individual’s personal and professional credibility. This would include any non-permissive approaches taken by a marketer to disclose profile information as well as the sharing of sensitive personal information through channels that could exploit or otherwise harm the individual’s standing.

A questionable area to consider when evaluating social media ethics is the role of behavioral targeting. Consider the ways advertisers track where you shop and browse from “click-through” behaviors used in retargeting campaigns. An assumption here is that ad viewers will appreciate the the improvement in message relevance.

A similar question should be raised in the use of Custom Audience features that permit marketers to pass on their email lists to Facebook, who then matches these lists with their own user log-in IDs for further targeting.


Over-promoting unsolicited messages is often viewed as unethical given the manner in which messages are broadcasted. Users are often deceived through a trail of spamming Twitter and Facebook links. The unwanted messages often clutter up opportunities for more useful information.

Public Bashing

Publicly disparaging others (e.g., your competition) in your social media dialogs is typically considered unethical. Such negative sentiment can quickly go viral without permitting fair rebuttals. These defenseless attacks will not only damage your reputation, they run the risk of libelous lawsuits if not properly founded. 

Dishonesty and Distortions

At the core of social media intentions is transparent communication. Dishonest claims or untruthful derogatory comments can jeopardize the long-term reputation of your company with an uncontrollable number of message recipients.

This issue has become especially contentious with the trend towards native ads. Although the FCC is likely to step into the arena, brand publishers have essentially been given a green light on disguising their ad content as publishing content. 

Distorted Endorsements and Improper Anonymity

A similar ethical violation involves the misrepresentation of your credential, affiliations and expertise. Many once reputable companies have been severely damaged with fake stories of consumers using their products. i.e., What may appear to be an anonymous testimony is instead backed by a voice with a vested interest in the sponsor.

Any practice of hiring folks to comment favorable or fabricate a story about your company’s offerings should be considered unethical. In a similar vein, overly aggressive employees have been found guilty of exaggerating competitive shortcomings. This activity is especially harmful if it catches the parent company off guard.  

Misuse of Free Expertise and Contests

With the growing use of Facebook contests and crowdsourcing for soliciting design ideas, contest participants run the risk of divulging their secrets with no reward. Oftentimes, design ideas are rewarded to the most profitable partners of the social network sponsor leaving many with unrewarded work. This abuse is especially unethical if the sponsor knowingly gathers superior design ideas from contestants they have no intention of compensating.


In the spirit of providing social networking communities with contributions to their cause or business challenges, social media marketers are discouraged from providing content that subliminally heads readers down a self-serving path. Whether these actions are unethical or just plain “unprofessional” depends on the situation and degree of deception.

So which of these deadly sins concern you the most?

2014 Social Media Predictions: Wrap Up of Top 10 Stars, RIPs, Marginals & Rebounds

As the list of 2014 social media and content marketing predictions winds to a close, what can organizations really take to the bank this year?

2014 Social Media Predictions

Download this complimentary report  of the Top 10 Rising Stars, RIPs, Marginals and Rebounds from an academic perspective that attempts to winnow the wheat from the chaff. In addition to rationalizing the hottest trends in social media and content marketing, we also examine the comeback potential of traditional media caught in the social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) tsunami.

Synthesizing over 200 expert predictions from the social media and content marketing world, we concluded the following. 

2014 Social Media Predictions:

Top 10 Stars, RIPs, Marginals & Rebounds

So have we missed anything? Please share your comments.


Why Apps will Jump-Start “Friend-of-Mine” Marketing

You may know that over 1 million apps are downloadable on an iPhone. But did you know why businesses are counting on these apps to reshape their marketing?

Just at the point where you may feel comfortable sporting your inbound marketing badge, you may want to research this new generation of Friend-of-Mine marketing.

As explained well in Jay Baer’s book Youtility, smart marketers are finding clever ways to befriend consumers addicted to “self-help” apps while reinforcing their brand image in the process.

From “Top-of-Mind” to “Frame-of-Mind” to “Friend of-Mine”

Let’s first rewind. For years, marketers counted on Top-of-Mind awareness to reach audiences. So after constantly hearing AFLAC!, AFLAC!, we would remember them if and when we become a prospect. This assumes a great deal of consistency, channel breadth and cash.

But along came search engines and social content marketing. This shifted “Top-of-Mind” to “Frame-of Mind” awareness. The goal here is to align your problem solving content (e.g., webinars, eBooks, blogs, etc.) with targeted audiences precisely when and where they are in their buying cycle. This inbound marketing approach is less intrusive than Top-of-Mind and is based on the generous giving of helpful content.

Enter the “App” Generation

Big brands see the move toward mobile apps as a way to engage in Friend-of-Mine marketing. The concept works like this. Charmin’s “Sit or Squat” app allows you to download a map of rated restrooms in your area.

Sample Apps

Why would they do this? Hopefully, you will associate Charmin’s brand with helpfulness while inviting them into your circle of friends. Okay, that might be a stretch. But imagine seeing only this brand name at the time of need.

The Geek Squad is often questioned why their self-help electronic repair videos don’t jeopardize their own repairs. Instead, they find the typical overextended gadget fixer searching for a bail-out. Upon witnessing the Geek Squad’s expertise, they make the call. This “Let me Help” form of marketing” is not employed as a sales tactic but as a way for the Geek Squad to become a friend. But in the process of helping, they undoubtedly generate new demand.

A widely downloaded app for stain removals is sponsored by Clorox. Although much of their researched advice goes well beyond the scope of their offerings, they can actually stimulate new demand as users consider new possibilities for stain removal. Similarly, Ortho has an app that will help you identify and treat harmful weeds in real-time. Whose weed killer and fertilizer are you going to remember?

Friend-of-Mine Marketing Offers Entrepreneurial Advantages

Small businesses are also capitalizing on low cost app development to offset the high costs of top of mind advertising.  Consider how Columbia Gear has an app to explain the various knots to tie when engaged in outdoor excursions. Rather than sporting ads for their outdoor clothing, they are banking on your befriending them at a time when you might consider their products.

In effect, we have introduced what some call Sideways Marketing. 

So what cool apps do you think can qualify as an exemplary use of Friend-of-Mine marketing?