Engage or Die! Participating and Engaging in the "Era of Digital Darwinism"

by Steve Fisher on March 5, 2010


In his recent book, “Engage!”, Brian Solis presents a solid guide showing how brands and businesses should use the tools of social media to, what the book cover says “build, cultivate and measure success in the new web”. This means actually taking the tools that every talks about (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Blogging) and using them to engage your current and potential customers so you can survive what he calls the “Era of Digital Darwinism”.

A Bit About The Book’s Approach

Brian himself describes the core approach of the book on his blog – “use of the tools does not guarantee that people will listen”. He goes on to state “engagement is shaped by the interpretation of its intentions. In order for social media to mutually benefit you and your customers, you must engage them in meaningful and advantageous conversations, empowering them as true participants in your marketing and service efforts”.

Brian’s Bottom Line Recommendations

On his blog, Brian distills his book into six core recommendations to survive in this “Era of Digital Darwinism”:

  1. Create a space in the online ecosystem that truly represents your business and cultivates your customers’ loyalty and trust
  2. Participate in the unique culture of each available social media platform to engage your customers
  3. Establish an organizational structure that constantly targets the next new media trend
  4. Attract online champions and change agents who will uncover the social networks you need to reach and the influencers who will help build your reputation in the networked world
  5. Consistently adapt your company to market needs and trends based on the invaluable connections you forge and the empathy and insight you garner in the process

A Quick Bit About Brian

Brian Solis is Principal of Futureworks, one of the early pioneers in leveraging social media in PR. Brian is know for coining the term PR 2.0 and writing many early books like Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now is Gone, challenging the status quo on how brands and businesses should approach communications.

I first met Brian about four years ago at South by Southwest (SXSW) and knew that he was in PR but knew him online from his awesome photography skill. Like Mark Salsberry, he takes pictures of people who are in the tech scene and makes us all look like rock stars. Brian’s flickr feed can tell a better story so go and take a look.

He is also know his collaboration with Jesse Thomas of JESS3 to create the “Conversation Prism” which if you haven’t seen it or bought a poster, captures all the functions in this new media landscape and identifies the products you should check out and use in your business. You can check that out over at http://www.theconversationprism.com/.

My Perspective on the Book – “Engage or Die!”

As you can see in the title above, Brian as Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, creates a social media mantra of “Engage or Die!” which is Brian’s writing style – get in your face, tell it like it is, tell you what to do and step away so you can actually do it. I wish more books were like this. The book is separated into three key parts – theory, application and measurement. I know, measurement. That is a term that has alluded many people in the social media space because for a long time people felt that this stuff was so cool and important that it didn’t need measurement. WRONG. You have many stakeholders around you that know about Twitter and Facebook but in the end know that the company needs to produce results (profits, membership, whatever) and whatever you do must contribute toward meeting those goals.

Theory – Social Media Manifesto and Making the Case to Your Boss

He begins the book with his “Social Media Manifesto” which provides a foundation for understanding how social media is one component of a broader communications and marketing strategy. He goes on to show you how to make the case for using social media in an organization with the numbers to back you up and get buy-in from the “quant jocks” or “bottom-liners” in the organization.

Application – Social Media University

You might get e-mails on classes to learn “how to become a social media expert” and might have scratched your head wondering “I need to know what is out there and how I can apply it to my business”. Well, Brian spends about 130 pages of the 350 page book getting you a virtual degree from “Social Media University”. This part of the book could be turned into a class with a $1500 seat for five days. It is that good.

It is true that with time, some of the products mentioned in this book will “Engage or Die!” themselves, the concepts and application are core to the book and that is the perspective you should take. I am not going to go into a whole lot of detail and am thinking about taking each “class” chapter and discussing it in more detail in future blog posts.

More Application – Brand “Me”, Brand “We” and Being a Social Architect

There are many people who are engaged in using social media to support the company they work for while at the same time have a brand or presence of their own on the social web. He makes excellent points on making sure your personal brand is clear and when necessary should be separate from the brand you represent. Each person who works with social media to support their personal brand or company needs to know the functions to architect a plan or blueprint to execute a social media program. He goes into great detail on how to define a social media plan, leveraging various functions in the organization and even using your CRM system to its fullest to get a comprehensive picture of your customers and your business.

Measurement – The New Media Scorecard

Brian closes the book by taking things to a whole new level by introducing what he calls “The New Media Scorecard”. He defines a successful way to measure to “start with the results, then work backward”. This so critical in any economic environment because people want to know that the investments they make in time, money and people will produce something they need. He includes an awesome measurement program checklist from the queen of metrics, K.D. Paine. She is one of my favorite people and knows this topic inside out. This part of the book is like getting K.D. for a half day session and is fantastic.

Final Thoughts – Yes, this book Rocks.

You can see just from this 10,000 foot review of the book that it is worth every penny and if you are doing this in your job, thinking about doing it or trying to make the case for it, you need this book.

My final thought?

Engage or Die! Now go buy this book….

Engage is now available for order on Amazon.comBarnes and NobleBooks a Million, and Borders,

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