Last July, The Wall Street Journal published a positive review of my book, The New Influencers. That was good, but I didn’t expect a second mention! Today, the Journal’s small business section has an interview with Scott Monty, whose Social Media Marketing Blog is one of the livelier and more readable efforts of its kind. Scott recommends New Influencers in addition to a couple of other books and several excellent blogs.
Okay, there are actually a lot of better things you can do, but I’d still be delighted if you’d join me this Saturday, Feb. 23 at 2:00 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Worcester, Mass., where I’ll give a talk on that subject, sign some books and meet some interesting people. Like you! Come and say hi.
Here’s where to go:
Barnes & Noble
541 D Lincoln Street
Worcester, MA 01605
IMedia Connection published the first less-than-positive review of The New Influencers today. It’s written by Phil Gomes, a veteran blogger who’s often cited as the first PR professional to practice the craft. In my view, Mr. Gomes’ review can be summed up as follows: New Influencers is a useful, if flawed attempt at putting into context a rapidly changing market in which decisions are frustratingly difficult to make. The book is full of good stories and makes a solid case for why corporations should pay attention to social media. However, it is marred by some factual mistakes and advice that is occasionally off-base. It’s a decent early attempt at putting social media in context, but it needs to be baked more fully.
I would call the review modestly positive, although the headline, “Does ‘Guide To The New Social Media Mis-Guide?’” implies otherwise. I don’t completely agree that the headline accurately represents the review, but I’ve written enough headlines in my time to know that it’s a judgment call and reasonable people disagree.
I have enormous respect for Phil Gomes and don’t quibble with any of the flaws cited in his review. I would like to respond to a few of them, though, if only to point out sources and motivations.
Mr. Gomes notes disapprovingly that I recommended that readers vote for favorable stories about their own companies on Digg.com. He’s right that that was bad advice. Digg was still fairly new when the book was submitted to the publisher last October, and time has demonstrated that my recommendation was misguided. He has a good point.
He takes me to task for using statistics from Alexa and Technorati to validate the significance of trends and the influence of blogs. He notes accurately that Alexa relies upon a limited universe of users of its toolbar to estimate traffic statistics, which skews the results. This is true; however, the Alexa toolbar is used by millions of people, and should give a representative, if not statistically valid view of traffic performance. Alexa is open about the limitations of its approach, and I should have cited this at least in a footnote. However, in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king, and Alexa is the best we’ve got.
The same can be said of Technorati, whose blog popularity ranking has been both hailed and reviled. I cited Technorati rankings generously in the book, mainly because it is the measure of popularity that bloggers overwhelmingly told me they use. Blogpulse has a similar ranking, but its universe is much more limited. While Technorati has its flaws, bloggers pay attention to it and I think that has merit.
Mr. Gomes comes away with the impression that I lavished too much attention on the Technorati A-list, thereby downplaying the importance of less prominent bloggers. If this is the impression the book leaves, then I did a terrible job of making my case in Chapter 4, titled “Measures of Influence.” The whole point of that chapter was to emphasize that A-list bloggers are influenced by many others, and that any campaign that focuses exclusively on the A-list is ignoring the sophisticated patterns of influence that work in the blogosphere. As noted in that chapter:
“Most A-list bloggers actually select at least half the items they choose to highlight from tips sent in by their readers, many of whom are small-time players. So the supernodes actually get their energy from satellites of much smaller influence who have their ear… [E]ven small players in the blogosphere can exert an unusually high level of influence depending on who is reading them. It is a modern version of the six-degrees-of-separation model. The blogger without much influence may actually be a link between two bloggers who have significant influence.”
He points out that I incorrectly identified Steve Rubel as head of Edelman‘s new-media consultancy. I stand corrected. I did send Steve an earlier version of that material for his review, but I evidently introduced errors after he had seen the early draft.
Finally, Mr. Gomes chides me for claiming that entertainment and celebrity blogs “don’t generate much cross hyper-linking activity.” In fact, that statement was attributed to a researcher at Nielsen BuzzMetrics in the context of a discussion about patterns of influence. While that doesn’t absolve me of blame, I did not present the statement as being my own.
I offer these comments solely in the spirit of giving my perspective of these issues. In reviews of any kind, perception is reality, and Mr. Gomes’ perception of my misfires are my responsibility to correct, hopefully in a second edition. He says he’d be willing to read it :-).
Much to my delight, The Wall Street Journal this morning carried a 900-word review of my book, calling it “a persuasive case for companies’ reaching out to bloggers,” and recounting many of the stories and examples I used to argue for greater marketer attention to social media.
Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to read the article. We’ll see what we can do about that 🙂
Having tried (unsuccessfully) for years to get published in the Journal, this was an unexpected endorsement and a very gratifying one. It’s good to see marketers coming around the perspective that social media can be a meaningful channel for customer connection.
The day this feature appeared, New Influencers jumped into the top 1,200 titles on Amazon. It’s slipped since then, but the sales rating stayed within the top 10,000 for 10 days. Hopefully, this will get some other people reading and talking about the book.
Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve had a photo published in a major newspaper (the shot of Peter Rojas is mine). Unfortunately, the photo ran with a credit to the book publisher, not the photographer. Ah, well. Such is life. 🙂
(Click on the photo to get a larger image)
Thanks to Renee Blodgett for her kind words about New Influencers. She admits she hasn’t read it yet, but expects it to be great. Now those are the kinds of critics I like!
The prolific Rob Enderle also said some very nice things about the book in his TechNews World column, which is widely syndicated. My thanks to him, also.
I have to admit to having developed a fascination with the Amazon sales ranking over the last couple of weeks particularly as New Influencers has moved into the top 10,000. I tend to check it every few hours and my mood can vary according to whether it’s up or down.
I guess my mood varies a lot, because the book has run the gamut from 1,500 to 70,000 in just the last week. Its rank can easily move 30,000 places in a day. I looked around for an explanation of how the ranking works and found an interesting one on Web Pro News, but the bottom line is that it’s Amazon’s little secret and no one outside of that company really has a clue.
Perhaps more importantly, no one has figured out a direct correlation between the sales ranking and actual book sales. Perhaps this is why my publisher refuses to pay any attention to it. And I try to ignore it. I can quit whenever I want. Really.
The San Jose Mercury News’ Dean Takahashi devotes a column to The New Influencers today. Takahashi, who’s reported for The Wall Street Journal among other journals, touches on several key points from the book and notes that a former colleague of his, Peter Rojas, went on to become a millionaire and a poster child of blogging success. He asks playfully (and a bit ruefully) if there’s still time for him to become a new influencer with his popular gaming blog.
Dean took the time to speak to me at some length on Monday evening. He also read the entire book, a fact that is both flattering and impressive in this continuously distracted world. It’s a thrill to be cited in such an important newspaper and by a reporter whose work I respect so much.