With refreshing candour, Stratten's book is laced with numerous case studies. They highlight positive and negative examples of what worked - and sucked - in the fields of social media, PR, customer service, HR, branding and other related areas.
The first "half" of the book - The Book of Business Awesome - provides lessons, tips and tales of how companies have differentiated themselves. By hiring great people, providing outstanding customer service, responding with speed and sincerity to PR crises, and developing premium content, these companies could thrive in the age of all things "social".
Poo poo-ing the need for social media to show ROI (compared to say printing 2,000 mugs with one's corporate logo), the book demonstrates how "awesome" companies are able to reach their third circle through quality content that spreads "virally". The first circle are our clients/friends, the second are the friends of our friends, while the third are folks who have no personal relationship to us.
Two examples of awesome businesses in the book:
- How DKNY (@DKNY) responded to a customer's tweet on a torn shirt cuff with an offer of replacement (no questions asked);
- How Grand Rapids overturned a negative report (it was labelled a "dying city") by Newsweek with "Grand Rapids LipDub". Set to a live recording of "American Pie", this nine-minute-long video saw thousands of residents singing and walking through their town in a spontaneous display of exuberance.
The dark side of the book - The Book of Business UnAwesome - is probably the more interesting half.
Here, we're taught that customers do not care less about a company's silos, that one should always check one's facts before blurting out in social media, and that "Bright Shiny Objects" syndrome can be extremely dangerous. Many of these "unawesome" practices stem from companies focusing their energies on sales and marketing while failing on customer service.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the book is its "Hall of Shame". Companies "etched in infamy" due to their ignorance, offensiveness, and lack of accountability are depicted here. Examples include:
- Kenneth Cole, who decided to hijack the trending topic of #Cairo (a hashtag created for the protests and riots in Egypt) to promote a new spring collection of apparel;
- Politician Newt Gingrich, who was shamed for buying hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers; and
- Quantas Airways, which ran a contest using the hashtag #QuantasLuxury which offered - get ready for this - a pair of pajamas and an amenity kit to its winners (what were you expecting?).
A master of wisecracks and clever quips, Stratten provided tonnes of
"tweetable" quotes and "status update" worthy sayings throughout both
sides of the book. My favourites include the following:
"Numbers give you only half the story."
"I would rather have 500 targeted new likes than 5,000 generic ones."
"We need HR to be a catalyst for what employees can do better."
"It's what we do that affects our brand perception more than any brochure ever could."
In summary, The Book of Business Awesome/ UnAwesome provided practical bulls*** free insights into the "hows" and "whats" of customer and employee engagement in the age of social media. Through numerous stories from the frontline, it demonstrated what one ought to do and not do in a world where "spam" is hated and where "outrage does not take the weekend off."
For more insights and examples of both awesome and unawesome companies, check out Scott Stratten's UnMarketing blog which comes loaded with lots of juicy goodness (and badness). I'm sure you'll learn as much from him as I did!