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Best Back To School Campaigns, Part III: Bookstore Alternatives

Part III of our Best of Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010 dives into the changing world of college textbooks.  In recent years, numerous companies have sprung up offering alternatives to the notoriously expensive college bookstore.  This year, I was particularly impressive by two such companies – Coursesmart and Chegg.

Through its sleek, easy-to-use website, Coursesmart offers an ever-growing selection of “e-textbooks” – electronic versions of the traditional print texts that can be read on desktops, laptops, iPads and even iPhones.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks give the reader the ability to highlight sections, take notes in the margins, print selected pages and cut and paste selections.  Now there is no need to carry around tons of heavy books – you can keep them all on our laptop, read for easy access with just one click.

I was particularly impressed by Coursesmart’s synergy with Apple products.  Being able to access textbooks from an iPhone is the ultimate in transportable texts.  Furthermore, the iPad opens the door to more interactive and impactful textbooks.  (See image above for an example of a Coursesmart text viewed on a iPad.)  The Wall Street Journal discussed the iPad and Coursesmart’s innovative e-texts in a recent article, stating that the new device makes book publishers “eager to exploit its color, video, and touch-screen capabilities.”  I, for one, would love to test drive this exciting new technology.

Of course, this new technology comes with a big price tag.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks, while less expensive than print versions, can still run in the $100 range.  And then there’s the iPad, priced at $499 – a very pricey item to pile on top of an already expensive back to school season.  Another textbook innovator, Chegg, combines new and old technology to offer a more affordable alternative.


Learning Loyalty from the Grateful Dead

In 2008, David Meerman Scott drew comparisons between social marketing and the Grateful Dead at the the first Inbound Marketing Conference in Massachusetts. Having seen dozens of Dead shows, my first in 1982, I immediately understood what he was talking about.

This band did everything differently– they produced only 13 albums over 30 years but instead toured constantly, doing more than 2300 shows. They played different songs every night from their catalog of 500 and supported the fans need for live shows by letting them record from a special section in the audience. Their brand lives on more than 15 years after Jerry Garcia’s death, and new fans are discovering them even now.

So, when I heard that David and Brian Halligan of Hubspot had written “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History”, I knew I needed to review it here. It covers how the Dead did the marketing basics differently: Their unique brand, message and offering, their fans(customers), and finally, their business model and operations. It’s a perfect guide for CEOs and marketers to learn to think differently and  create a break through brand.


Charlene Li’s ‘Open Leadership’ -Book Review

Charlene Li ‘s new  book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, opens with a memorable story about musician, Dave Carroll, and his unfortunate incident when United Airlines damaged his guitar. Nine months later, when Carroll hadn’t made any progress being compensated for his guitar, he did something a little different to vent his feelings. He made a music video called “United Breaks Guitars” and posted it on YouTube. Charlene writes, “Within three days, the video had over one million views, and Carroll’s anthem became a viral sensation. By the end of 2009, there had been over seven million views and hundreds of news stories about Carroll’s experience.”

With this story, Charlene lays the groundwork for her new work about the ways in which social technology has changed the shift in power, where “individuals have the ability to broadcast their views to the world.”

Throughout the book, we learn from one example after another, how leaders need to find a way to communicate as openly as they can, and how this comes more easily for some than others. Charlene includes Open Leadership Self-Assessment tools so leaders can determine where they fall in the spectrum. She offers hope too for those who may not naturally be inclined towards openness by suggesting they start small. As she says, “It’s hard to suspend a mind-set that’s driven you throughout your professional career-it may feel completely unnatural to you and go against every fiber in your body.”


  • Filed under: books

Phil Simon’s ‘The Next Wave of Technologies’ –Review

Check-out our Podcast Interview with Author, Phil Simon

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Not a day goes by when I don’t hear someone talk about the challenge of keeping up with technology. Most of the time it’s an individual talking about things like new mobile phones, iphone apps, google docs, search engines–you get the picture. But think about how difficult it must be for CIO’s and people working in corporate Information Technology departments; people who are responsible for choosing systems and applications and having to make decisions on where and how to spend their IT dollars.

This is why people like Phil Simon are so important. Simon is the author of a new book, The Next Wave of Technologies: Opportunities in Chaos, who collaborated with a network of experts to write about a wide spectrum of Enterprise 2.0 technologies.The book demystifies topics you may have thought were hands-off to you: SaaS (software as a service), enterprise search and retrieval (ESR), service-oriented architecture (SOA). The book also covers topics which may feel more mainstream at this point such as cloud computing, mobile technologies, and social networking.

The Next Wave of Technologies is a must-read for IT professionals who are scrambling to keep up with the implications of new technologies and a book for their colleagues who need to interface with them. Students and consulting firms will also benefit from reading the book. Simon writes, “…it does not provide all of the answers to any one technology, but summarizes the questions that readers should be asking themselves.”

Simon concludes, “In the end, no one has a crystal ball predicting how any technology will ultimately be used and by whom. Even the experts in this very book cannot foresee with any degree of certainty where we are going, much less how we are going to get there. In five years, any one of the Enterprise 2.0 technologies in this book may have already fizzled. We may look back at any one of them and say, “What were we thinking?…It will be a bumpy but exciting ride with magnificent rewards at the end for those able to find opportunity in chaos.”

One thing is clear, we can’t bury our head in the sand until the next wave of technologies settle. All of us who want to stay current and competitive need to have a good picture of the choices out there today and the effects they will have on the ways we communicate professionally and personally.

* DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION Special thanks to John Wiley & Sons for providing a review copy of The Next Wave of  Technologies for this blog post. Wiley books are available at your local bookstore or by calling .

Jim Sterne’s ‘Social Media Metrics’—Review

Jim Sterne does an excellent job of laying out the current social media playing field in his book, Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment. He provides numerous examples and resources to further our understanding of metrics.

Sterne begins the book by suggesting the three business goals we should be most focused on: raising revenue, lowering costs, and increasing customer satisfaction. He says desired business outcomes are measurable and include things like: awareness, survey completions, subscriptions, registrations, blog comments, blog posts, leads, and purchases.

Sterne cautions us that social media results can take time. He cites Marshall Sponder who surveyed social marketing experts and practitioners, and recommends that you plan on spending six to twelve months of effort and data collection before you can tell whether “you have hit a jackpot by fluke or have actually built a long-term, brand building program.”

While web sites can be measured by key performance indicators (KPI), Sterne suggests we take a look at Chris Lakes’s list of social interaction metrics/KPIs which includes 35 metrics to help measure engagement–everything from alerts to wishlists. See the full list.

The social media reader coming to Sterne’s book may be looking for the answer to the question–are we improving our brands standing by using social media?


A couple of months ago we reviewed Chris Brogan’s new book, Social Media 101.  Since reading the book we’ve thought about what we would ask Chris if we could. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to discuss the book with Chris in this Impressions through Media exclusive interview. Welcome, Chris!

DH: You wrote in Social Media 101 that some people advise organizations to go for a blog as a first option in their starter moves for introducing social media, and that you think blogs are possibly not a good first choice. Universally are there any good first choices for organizations? Or do you think it’s more a case-by-case situation? Are there any identifying factors to help organizations decide e.g. by type of business, size of organization?


Blogging Your Way to Happiness

There’s been a lot of interest in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project which was published in late 2009 and became a #1 New York Times Bestseller. The book is a memoir of the year Gretchen spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from the popular culture about how to be happy–from Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah.”

As a blogger, and someone who derives a great deal of pleasure and happiness from blogging, I loved the part of the book where Gretchen describes launching her blog.

While my blog posts usually have more of a business focus on topics such as social media marketing, I wanted to take this opportunity to share Gretchen’s perspectives on blogging—mostly because I identify. And, because I often talk with people who are contemplating starting a blog and wondering how it will be for them. These passages describe my experiences so perfectly. I believe that if you want to blog, once you get through the initial steps,  you too will reap the benefits which come from blogging.

In Gretchen Rubin’s words from The Happiness Project:


Brian Solis’s ‘Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web—Review

In Brian Solis’s new book, Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, he uses the metaphor of “new media university” to take the reader through the basics and onto a more advanced education. As he says, “We are forever students of new media.”
See what’s in the book.

In 2010, there’s an overabundance of social media tools at our disposal. However, Brian Solis cautions us to keep what’s important in the forefront, namely, content.

He writes about the need for producing compelling content as a way to gain and earn friends/followers. He reminds us that everyone in a company plays a critical role in communicating the brand; and to be effective in social media, a company needs to engage as a team. Consumers want a meaningful way to connect, and businesses must be ready to listen.

Brian Solis offers the Conversation Prism, a visual representation of social networks, and the Social Marketing Compass which he created with Jesse Thomas. These are invaluable resources and will serve as guides as you embark on developing a social media plan, as well as in your efforts to garner the support and participation of the organization.

The author does much more than simply introduce us to social media tools. Engage! is truly an education. If you take the time to do your homework, trying out the suggested resources, your efforts will pay off. There’s something for everyone in this book regardless of where you are on the new media learning curve.

I found myself captivated by several things in particular: social media dashboards, aggregation and syndication, geo location and mobile networking, social objects and social media optimization.  Engage! is a book you will be able to pick up on any given day and find what you’re looking for as a way to keep on track with your social media goals and objectives.

At Impressions through Media, we’ll be talking with Brian Solis about the book and then posting part two with our Q &A.  If you have any questions you’d like to add to the list, suggest them here. We’ll include your name and link back to you.

This is the first of two posts on Engage! by Brian Solis.

In the book

  • Integrated marketing tools organized by categories and instruments
  • Content communities, social bookmarking and livecasting
  • Multimedia, Forums/Groups and url shorteners
  • Social media dashboards
  • Aggregation and conversational threading in activity feeds, lifestreams, microblogs and microcommunities
  • Geo location and mobile networking, widgets and applications, video broadcast networks
  • Social objects (as the connection of abstract objects that trigger and host related dialogues and activities), Social media optimization
  • Syndicating social objects and aggregation networks
  • Establishing an online presence, shaping the brand persona
  • Real-time web and tapping into the statusphere
  • From Web 1.0 to 2.0 and ultimately to web squared
  • Online reputation
  • Talking with meaningful exchanges
  • Policies and guidelines
  • Rules of engagement
  • The Conversation Prism
  • Listening and searching the social web
  • Differing levels of participation
  • Creating a social media plan, using a social marketing compass
  • Social Media as a team effort
  • Social relationship management
  • Earning friends and followers/buying friends and followers
  • Return on participation, experience and influence


* DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION Special thanks to John Wiley & Sons for providing a review copy of Engage! for this blog post. Wiley books are available at your local bookstore or by calling .

The Passport to a Well-Planned Social Media Journey

Chris Brogan is the quintessential trust agent for social media. If you’ve already read Trust Agents, the book he co-authored with Julien Smith, you’re well-versed in the characteristics—people who humanize the Web, understand the systems and how to make their own game, and who connect and build fluid relationships.

Chris Brogan’s new book, Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online*, is a collection of posts that originally appeared on his blog, which he has since updated and edited. I can attest to the fact that having it in a nicely bound book with the new additions will serve you well (and besides it has such a cool cover!) What he accomplishes so perfectly in this book is tackling the discussions about social media tools and social networking, and coming at them from multiple directions. As you read the book, you’ll undoubtably entrust Chris Brogan with taking you on a social media journey, and as a result, you’ll feel more confident about the tools you’re currently using and the ones you decide to pursue.

Social Media 101, goes well beyond the usual discussions of Facebook, Twitter, blogs. LinkedIn. MySpace, Flickr and Digg.  Brogan explores rich media–audio, video, video hosting, and live video, browsers, internet , social bookmarking, IM aggregator applications, blogging platforms–home base blogs and mobile blogging, listening tools, shared documents, collaboration, and screencasts.

Many of the pieces are literally chock-full of useful information and tips e.g. 50 ways, 100 tactics, 5 moves, 50 steps. He references and includes links to bloggers and websites you may never come across on your own, but you’ll be happy you took the time (as I am) to stop and visit those sites.


Q & A with Steve Garfield, Author of Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business

If you’ve thought that having a working knowledge of YouTube covered your video bases, you’ll be in for a wonderful treat by reading Steve Garfield’s new book, Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business—which lets you in on some of the best kept secrets out there.

I was completely engrossed in Steve’s book which I read in one day, only stopping to try out many of the things he references. Within a short period of time,  I found myself streaming video from my iPhone on qik, creating blog posts on posterous, developing unique videos on animoto, researching mics for iPhones, checking-out vimeo,, how to create a playlist of our videos on youtube, making a screencast on jing.

By half-way through the book I was convinced how no social media marketing campaign will be complete without video.

While high-end video cameras and experienced videographers are certainly one way to go, Steve demonstrates how by having an interest in shooting video and a wide range of tools to choose from, video is within every business’ reach regardless of your budget. Above all, Steve demonstrates how interest and passion will be your ticket.

Steve is right here to tell you about his book himself (in his video, of course!) And after viewing, keep reading our exclusive interview.


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