Social Networking for Business

I've taken a number of classes on management and leadership, and I'm good at navigating the dense, textbook style tomes typically mandated in those courses. However, I have to say that Social Networking for Business outdoes most of them with its droning, dry style and its penchant for restating fairly obvious things in charts and tables. Rather than supplying practical, how-to types of information that a business could use to start or improve its social networking, it provides foundational knowledge useful for someone who has never heard of Twitter or Facebook before.

The book, rather IBM-heavy in its slant, talks about the different ways companies manage information - centralized, or decentralized. It talks about having groups that have set leaders, vs groups that jointly come to a consensus. It mentions that you can encourage people to do things you want them to by awarding them "merit badges". Are these really ideas that we have to read through a book to realize? How do these help us to build the best social network system we can? Should we be focusing on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, in what percentages? The book doesn't say.

Did you know that using all capital letters is considered shouting and is a bad thing? The book is sure to inform you. Did you know that users who are unfamiliar with you will probably not be very active in your system, while users who love and evangelize for you will be more active? The book shows you a graph helping you understand it. This is a primer of sorts - but it's a primer for people who have never even touched a forum or a social system. And even for those people, the language it uses is so dry and distant that they will be hard pressed to translate the theoretical images into practical, useful details about what they should actually do and in what order.

It's not that the book is written poorly. Its information is accurate, the spelling and grammar are all well done, it certainly contains factual information. The problem is that I can't even imagine who the target audience for the book would be. Someone who is new to social networking would want something far more practical and engaging. Someone doing research on social networking would not need any of the introductory material and would find the book lacking in details.

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