Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build Their Brand by Shel Holtz and John Havens is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic of Social Media, and I have recommended this book to many of my colleagues, friends and clients. If you enjoyed Search by John Battelle, then you’ll like Tactical Transparency, as it does for Social Media what Search did for SEM & SEO; it explains in a straightforward way how companies need to be thinking about their Web 2.0, blog and Social Media strategies.
This book shares a lot of what I would consider common sense principles. However, it takes only a few case studies such as the dishonesty that brought down Enron, the astroturfing (i.e. lack of disclosure) that gave both Edelman and Wal*Mart such negative PR, or a dismissal of a blogger by Target to realize that what sounds like common sense in hindsight is not always practiced in the day to day operations of a company. That is, if Edelman can make such a huge blunder (and they are considered by many to be one of the premier social media PR companies), anyone can – especially when the values at the top of an organization are not practiced throughout the company.
One of my favorite quotes from the book came from Mike Wing, vice president of strategic communications at IBM, who said:
“We think blogging is a big deal, and we don’t know yet what the real full nature of that big deal is. It goes way beyond diaries or opinion or even marketing or PR. It’s an unprecedented empowerment of individual human expression, a fulfillment of the original promise of the web in which everyone can become a publisher.”
And of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, “What are the implications for my business?” How does a company today evolve from sending out press releases to truly being part of the ongoing conversation about your company and your brand? While this book is not necessarily a “How To” book, it does provide great examples of what leading companies are doing today and the issues that most companies are currently grappling with – especially the really tough ones such as legal and resource implications. The book provides some great suggestions on how to mitigate the risk associated with social media and how to have productive conversation with your lawyers.
I believe that this book is well worth your time to read and that you’ll get some great insights from this book regardless of where you currently are in the Social Media spectrum – from novice to expert.
Bill Carmody is a PMA Board Member & Co-Chair of the PMA’s Digital Center of Excellence