Book: Welcome to the Fifth Estate | Beth's Blog

Book: Welcome to the Fifth Estate


Geoff Livingston, Author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate

There’s been a nice crop of social media books published this spring!   So Mondays have become book review days as part of the discipline to keep up with reading.    My Zoetica colleague, Geoff Livingston, shared a preview copy of his forthcoming book Welcome to the Fifth Estate and it is a great read!

This book offers  principles to guide corporations and nonprofits to think through a social media strategy that is aligned with communications or marketing goals.   It is chocked full of excellent case studies from the for-profit and non-profit sector to bring the concepts to life as well as a synthesis of expert opinions.    Geoff frames his strategy advice in the context of the current media landscape  and how it has changed and evolved since his first book,  Now is Gone,  as he discusses in this interview from Networked for Good.

I went straight to the strategy and measurement chapters.   The book defines a social media strategy as an overarching plan that creates meaningful engagement with stakeholders.    Strategy is what powers  tactics and tools, and  without it an organization won’t achieve results or be seduced by “shiny object syndrome”  or as Jeremiah Owyang says, “Don’t Fondle the Hammer.”    A well designed strategy that includes a positioning statement is what will enable organizations to break through the media clutter – the rest is tactical.

So, what makes a good positioning statement?  As Geoff writes in the book, “an understanding of what makes people fall in love with causes, products, services and ideas.”   That takes the discipline of listening to ensure that you understand your community, value them, and build a meaningful experience.   It also takes analyzing competitors and perhaps in the nonprofit sector, understanding the ecosystem or network of organizations working on similar issues.     In short, listening is  market research.  Geoff reminds us that a good positioning statement is simple and dictates messaging used during media interactions.

The book identifies four categories for a social media strategy.   Each strategy type is  not mutually exclusive.  An institution can use all four, if they have capacity and resources.   The four types described in the book in more detail include:

Participation — This may be an individual (often called a social media or community manager) or in more sophisticated organizations, a team of people that are basically out and about on the interwebs, having conversations with their communities of interest.

Service — Serve your Internet community with great data, content and applications.

Top Down — Many organizations assume they will not be able to invest the time in the grassroots effort necessary for full community participation, nor do they want to commit to a long-term content offering. Instead , they opt to build relationships with influencers using a top down approach. With a relevant offering for the influencer, they seek blog coverage or social network profile endorsements. By building relationships with critical influencers, they hope the communities following these leading voices will follow suit.

Empowerment — The hardest of all forms of social media strategy, empowerment assumes that the organization will commit to building a far flung community.  In essence, these stakeholders create conversations and ideas that are so extensive they exist well beyond the organization’s reach.

Geoff reminds us that tactics are not tools, but actions.   He outlines ways to approach interaction across different social platforms and technologies.  These include:

  • Conversation Starters
  • Relationship Approaches
  • Shareability
  • Integration
  • Community Management
  • Course Corrections
  • Reputation Management

My other favorite is Chapter 6, a guest chapter from my other Zoetica colleague, Kami Huyse, on measurement.    She outlines three guiding principles that can help an organization shape a measurement plan:   SMART objectivesMeasure What Matters, and the 3 A’s of Online Measurement.      The secret is becoming a measurement maven and transform data into actionable insights to inform  strategy.

If you’re looking for solid  principles to think about  social media strategy formulation,  pre-order your copy of  “Welcome to the Fifth Estate” now!

3 Responses

  1. OMG,someone cut off my finger!

    Thank you so much for this very kind review.

  2. […] Zoetican Beth Kanter said, “If you’re looking for solid principles to think about social media strategy formulation, […]

  3. […] and sometimes don’t think about where they want to go and how to figure out if they landed. Read Beth Kanter’s review of the book for a good summary of chapters 4 and 6, on strategy and measurement, […]

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