Age of Conversation 3: It’s time to get busy!

I’m happy to report that the Age of Conversation 3 is available now on Amazon, and in other outlets! I am a contributor to the section on Innovation and social media along with quite a few other really smart folks (full list of authors follows below). I’m really excited the book is finally out, with the social space maturing, going beyond the standard “101″ type information will be important for business looking to tap into the social web smartly. If you pick it up please let me know what you think!

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti
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Book Review: Join the Conversation


When publishing “Join the Conversation“, Joe Jaffe decided to take a collaborative approach to it’s marketing (dubbed “UNM2PNM” or “Using New Media to Prove New Media”), to prove that a book could be a success without the huge launch support of most book publishing events. He offered up 150 review copies to bloggers who requested it and agreed to post a review, positive or negative, on their site. Having enjoyed “Life after the 30 second spot” and his blog, I thought I’d take him up on it.

Without further ado, my review:

Joe Jaffe is a passionate guy and it comes through in this provocative call to action to corporations used to shouting at their customers from their ivory towers. Its rallying cry to speak ‘with’ your customers vs. ‘at’ them is a gospel truth for any business in my view. But Jaffe is also realistic and one of the key points he makes is that brands can “catalyze the conversation”.

Joining a conversation implies participating as an equal partner, which is an ideal situation. However, it doesn’t mean that a brand cannot step up to the plate and lead the conversation or attempt to take the conversation to the next level.

I absolutely agree. The caveat is that it has to be done transparently and with actual vs. forced value.

Equally valuable in my view is his addition of 3 new “C’s” to the original new marketing model premise from the late 90’s of the 3 C’s. The original three are: Content, Commerce and Community. Jaffe adds three more to the mix with: Context, Customization and Conversation, and by doing so brings much needed additional depth to the discussion.

Although I feel that the book is absolutely a must read, especially for traditional marketers struggling to come to grips with “Web 2.0″ and “social media”, I do feel that there are a few weak spots that may fundamentally occur by his insistence on separating conversation from communication, which makes some of his arguments appear forced and not fully articulated. Conversation is communication, otherwise it’s a different form of one-way dialogue. The ultimate goal of any conversation, or communication, should be to build a relationship. Jaffe actually makes these same points at various points in his book, however, because of his aversion to talking about “relationship marketing” the basic premise appears forced to become a catch phrase.

His own examples in places can contradict his main point of only a few paragraphs before. For example, in “The Ten Tenets of Good Conversation” he talks about how traditional advertising is built on a web of lies and we are constantly going to market with deficient products that we are lying about to consumers, yet later on in that same section he mentions “Snakes on a Plane” as an unqualified viral success, but states the studio could have done more to drive box office receipts after opening weekend by offering up the stars for interviews with bloggers and such. Perhaps. But after opening day the buzz shifted from how cool the film concept was (and the nostalgia for Sam Jackson as Pulp Fiction character) to how absolutely awful the movie actually was. More buzz online can’t make up for a bad product. With social media/ new media as with traditional advertising; you can’t mask a bad product behind buzz.

I also feel that in many ways the book neglects to truly take technology and historical context into account and provide a deeper understanding as to why some parts of the culture at large are embracing two-way conversation and mashing up their own brand related content (or the Read/ Write Web) at this point in history. And on the flip side, recognizing that an equally large portion of the population has no interest in having a conversation with a brand, or having them insert themselves into their social interactions.

By somewhat disparaging “traditional interactive” (by which I gather he means email, websites, search, online advertising, newsletters, games, etc. etc.) as just as much of a problem as “traditional advertising” Jaffe neglects to recognize how the technology has not only limited, but has also paved the road of experimentation to arrive at a point in time where two-way conversation online is possible. The “conversation” aspect has always existed in the online world that most people know, with email, live help, IM, etc. The ability for the consumer to *start* or change, the conversation with potential strangers and have it exist for posterity is what has significantly changed in my view.

Although it has it’s flaws (as does everything in life!), I absolutely feel JTC is a valuable addition to the marketing conversation and should be a must read in not only Fortune 1000 corporate boardrooms, but is also incredibly valuable for smaller organizations looking to make a difference and engage their customers as a competitive edge.

Give away: I have an extra copy of the book to give away to the first person to leave a comment or email me (addy is on the sidebar and timestamps will determine the winner in case of tie) with the answer to the following trivia question:

Which chapter of Join the Conversation is comprised of thoughts from contributors on the Wiki prior to the books publication?

Update: And the book is gone!

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