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When I’m not busy with library school work or busy at work, I try to read at least one social media-related book a month. (Yes, I know, I’m super rad and stuff.) Despite 99% of them having nothing to do with libraries, I find that these books are a great place to find library marketing ideas.

Sticks & Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click is no exception. I can honestly say that this is the best social media book I’ve read this year. Divided in to four parts, Sticks and Stones author Larry Weber explains the importance of one’s digital reputation, shaping said rep, examples of small and large-scale digital reputations and strategies for managing your own digital presence.

Part I: Digital World, Digital Reputation takes readers through what they need to know about what having a digital reputation really means, its implications and how to form and hone your/your company’s. Throughout the book, Weber uses real-life examples of businesses rocking their digital reputation and cautionary tales illustrating why you better learn to rock your own. (The highlight of Part I is “The Reputation Management Process” outlined in Fig. 1.1. Though a simple six-step process, this process is a place to, if nothing else, begin one’s online PR management strategy.)

Part II: Building Reputation: Start a Dialogue addresses a range of issues that arise when building a digital reputation:

  • establishing community guidelines
  • the concept of treating your reputation as your brand (using zappos.com as an example)
  • becoming the venue at which conversation regarding you/your company takes place
  • where to be on the web
  • what jobs are necessitated by a web 2.0 presence

Part III: It’s All About You (and Your Firm) delves in to establishing YOU online. Getting on LinkedIn, how to network online – all the stuff you should know about if you’re going to be relevant in world 2.0. As someone pursuing a career in social media, I appreciated the time Weber took in this section of the book to remind readers that establishing a social media brand is a process. One that takes care and requires an amount of judiciousness. It is also a process that, if you’re not careful, can eat up an unreasonable amount of time. Weber calls for striking a balance between one’s real and digital professional lives and one’s personal life. In my experience, many social media writers fail to address these issues and by doing so, imply that having a successful digital reputation takes ALL of your once-personal time.

Part IV: Tools and Tactics is wonderful. With chapters dedicated exclusively to YouTube, responding to negative community feedback, “The New Craft of Public Relations” and the Obama presidential campaign, all I can say is that you really need to read this section of the book (I literally photocopied the public relations chapter for my boss before returning the book to the library). Weber explains what strategies work and why without being condescending or overly simplistic. It is so easy to translate these strategies to non-corporate business and industries.

Weber discusses “The Future of Digital Reputation” in his final chapter, which almost ALL social media books insist upon doing. Despite loving the vast majority of this book, this last chapter left me thinking, “These are interesting theories.” Just like all the other theories about the future 4.0. I’m sorry to end this recommendation on a negative note, but that’s how the book ended. :/

(I wonder if Weber will use his negative feedback strategies on this blog post.)

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