If you're even remotely into social media and have yet to read (or hear of) Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble, Shel Israel (and the host of other authors who played a part in bringing the book to life), then you have some catching up to do. Published in 2006 about the way blogging was changing businesses (and with tremendous foresight regarding how blogging would continue to change business), the book is still exceptionally relevant to business managers who not only want to grasp just what the &%*$ social media means, but want to see that meaning in context...especially a successful context.
I'm writing about this book not so much to do a review of its content - that will be simple to review (and I will, briefly, in just a few sentences). Instead, the critical reason for you to read this book or at least understand why it is an important historical/seminal text in the nascent boom of social media, is because THE EXPERIMENT WAS A SUCCESS!
So, briefly, Naked Conversations is written by Rober Scoble, who helps run Microsoft's Channel 9 Web site and whose own blog attracts nearly 4 million readers per year with praise from Fortune, Fast Company and the Economist. Shel Israel is an innovation expert with a part in the success of itsy-bitsy product's such as PowerPoint, FileMaker and Sun Microsystems workstations. The book discusses the reasons that modern consumers are dissatisfied with large corporations - with the key reason being that their is no voice for them in the process and product that the company is. Essentially, the topic is quite simple - the company makes products for me, yet they don't talk to me about what I need or want. Imagine the benefit to both if the process/product were informed by a conversation between company and consumer...
Now, what's critical about this book is that it was begun in public on the blog Red Couch (a reference to a piece of furniture in Scoble's home.) The author's began a topic thread about how they were working on a book about the way blogging/social media was changing the authority that consumer's had over businesses and vice versa. This turned into a conversation where readers helped Scoble and Israel craft outlines for the books content and inform the content that would eventually become a published docoument. Now, imagine...you have your business. What if you could learn from the diverse audience of "consumers" of your business - from those who receive your non-profits assistance to those who volunteer and donate, to those who are interested in what you do and who can possibly provide the value of their opinion or experience to help you in managing your business? Wouldn't it be of value for you have that content not just in a documented format, but also in a threaded conversation that organically creates new content from relevant parties? I'd think so.
This is what blogging can do for you - and Naked Conversations is an exemplar in proving this. Scoble and Israel proved that they can get a coherent document published leveraging the 'wisdom of the crowd' - why shouldn't you be able to at-the-very-least engage your audience(s) and inform your processes and products with a conversation between your employees and the people they serve? So, if you haven't started blogging, take a page out of Naked Conversations and START! It's free and pretty damn simple - I'm more than willing to assist you.