Book Review: Social Nation

I recently had an opportunity to read Social Nation: How to harness the power of Social Media to attract customers, motivate employees & grow your business by Barry Libert.  Heckuva title.

Libert is the the CEO at Mzinga, which is a company that connects other companies–and their customers–using social media to collaborate and communicate.  Social media is, quite simply, using the internet to drive interactive communication.  This includes Twitter, Facebook, and forums.  Sometimes, it’s just discussion, sometimes, it’s sharing user-generated content.

Social Nation “will show you, as an employee, customer or partner, how to use new social technologies, make yourself heard, and produce better products and services.”   It bills itself as a “complete toolbox” for social media.   Does it match the hype? Let’s see.

The book is broken into three sections.

Part 1: The Future of Business is Social

Libert asserts that the future of business is social.   That is obviously true, to a degree. A solid viral marketing campaign can drive more eyeball to a product than a full-page spread in the New York Time or a 30-second spot during Super Bowl halftime.  However, there are a lot–possibly a majority–of business-to-business companies that will gain no value from a social media campaign.   Would a regional supplier with an exclusive distributorship for a top-name line of faucets benefit from being on Twitter?  No.  On the other hand, 17% of our time online is spent on social applications and the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 35 years old or older.  There is certainly some value to be gained by have a social media presence in some markets.

This section(all of chapter 3!) also contains a link to a test to determine your social media skills.   I haven’t taken the test, mainly because I don’t feel like registering for another site.  This struck me as nothing more than lead generation, which is a shame.  It could be a useful tool.

Part 2: Seven Principles for Building Your Social Nation

This section has seven chapters, containing 7 case studies that detail the 7 principle of social media, as defined by Libert and Mzinga.

The principles include:

  • Let the culture lead the way, as demonstrated by
  • Involve your fans.  The big takeaway from chapter 8 is that, when you create a community, your job is to facilitate involvement, not to control it.  If you try to run it with an iron fist, it will choke and die.
  • Reward others and you will be rewarded. Apple lets developers keep 70% of the money they make in the app store.  That encourages developers to develop, making everyone more money.   Give.  Karma will take care of the rest.
  • There are 4 other principles, but some are just common sense, and I don’t want to give away the contents of the book.

Part 3: Start Today and Create Your Own Social Nation


Chapter 11: How to Get Started and 10 Pitfalls to Avoid

Section 3 has just one chapter, but it’s a good one.    It explains the difference between followers and fans, the value of each and how to bond with each.   The difference?  Fans are actively involved.   Followers are far more passive.

This section/chapter also goes into some things to avoid, like abandoning a social media strategy too early, failing to market your business, underestimating the power(positive and negative) of a social network.

Is it worth getting the book?

Social Nation bills itself as a complete social media toolbox, but it falls a bit short.   The book tackles social media from a purely strategic point of view, ignoring the tactical concerns.   It’s clearly geared toward helping a company plan its social media strategy from a 10,000 foot perch.   For the people in the trenches, or anyone with a grasp of strategy that’s looking for the details on running a social media campaign, it’s not enough.  That said, if you are trying to plan a social media strategy, or you have no idea where to start, this is a great book for you.   It holds a lot of value, but stops some distance before “complete”.  Definitely worth a read if you are involved is social media planning.


I’m giving away Social Nation.   If you’d like to have a chance to get it, just leave a comment, telling me how you like to see companies use social media.  Fair warning, this is the book I read, so it’s “used”.   I take care of books, so you can’t tell that it’s used.

Publishers, Publicists, and Authors

If you have a book you’d like me to review, please contact me.

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