Book Review Wednesday: Wikibrands: Reinventing your company in customer-driven marketplace

Its hard to keep up with all the books coming out about social media for business. There are so many layers to this topic that entire (worthy) books have been written on social media philosophy, content creation or audience engagement. With all the dynamics elements to creating a successful social media presence, its sometimes hard to know where to start or even what books are worth the time investment.

But WikiBrands by Mike Dover and Sean Moffit ties all the necessary components into a social media strategy together with some helpful tactics.  Where WikiBrands differs is that it incorporates all those key subjects and more while also discussing the often ignored role of the brand. Branding is particularly relevant for small and medium sized businesses or start-ups who are looking to start or increase their social media voice. While most the examples within the book are of enterprise-sized businesses, the mini-case studies of numerous different types of brands ranging from WD-40 to Lunapads (a feminine protection product) to the oft-cited Zappos, Wikibrands proves that no matter the product, engagement can happen with a strong and willing brand. Businesses of all sizes can learn something from these examples and by implementing the FLIRT model that is roadmap to Wikibrand success, even the smallest entrepreneur can create a place for themselves in social media.

But before we get started: what exactly is a Wikibrand? According to the authors:

Wikibrand(s): noun

A progressive set of organizations, products, service, ideas and causes that tap the powers of customer participation, social influence and collaboration to drive business value.

It seems like a simple enough description, but the devil is indeed in the details of a successful Wikibrand.  The book begins with some branding 101 and then provides examples of the benefits of Wikibranding. Now, here comes the beef: it transitions nicely from the philosophical to the action plan with a concise roadmap called FLIRT, an apropos acronym according to the authors since flirting is “pulse raising, human and engineered to impress.” The other reason this acronym works is that each section represented is not only in order of steps, but importance. Each element has its own chapter: Focus, Language and Content, Incentives & Motivations & Outreach, Rules Guidelines & Rituals, Tools. I particularly appreciated the process of the FLIRT model. By encouraging businesses to start out with their focus and strategy and then move through to the other elements, the authors Dover and Moffit support what so many marketers know, but what so many companies ignore in their rush to create a program.

But understanding how to begin your social media presence is the first phase, building community then analyzing and measure the community and Wikibrands includes those very important topics as well. The community development chapter may seem intimidating to smaller businesses, but the chapter is a worthy read still since it articulates some of the motivations that people have for being part of a community. Understanding the needs of humans, rather than computers is the essence of Wikibrand success. Wikibrands even spends a chapter on personal brand development. I did wish that Wikibrands spent more time on measurement, but the authors do articulate some common measurement mistakes and make recommendations for measuring success based on your goals rather than more common tactics.

As you move through the FLIRT model, you’ll have lots of statistics that are worthy of your next powerpoint presentation along with research that is hard to get your hands on. While the road map of FLIRT doesn’t go into specific tactics, its a good brainstorming exercise for any marketer. Frankly, Wikibrands should be required reading for any business or marketing professional considering or executing a social media presence. For consultants Wikibrands offers an organized way to help your clients navigate through the complex choices in social media. I plan on giving a copy to my clients.

Resources: Register here for a Webinar with the authors on March 31st, sponsored by Social Media Club