This weekend I read From From Lincoln to LinkedIn by Mike Klein, or to use its full title… From Lincoln to LinkedIn: The 55-minute guide to Social Communication or Why Social Media has (tweet) All to Do with New Technology and Everything to do with Timeless Principles of Word of Mouth.
It bills itself as a 55-minute guide to social communication and I was intrigued to see how or if it would be any different to other books on the market.
It has 93 pages and I certainly read it quickly, in fact I read it twice, and I know I will keep rereading it. I’ve already spoken to another comms professional I know about it and will be lending the book to him this week (with the proviso that I’d like it back!).
What’s it about and who’s it for?
The book is billed as being for Corporate Communicators, Change Leaders, CEOs, and Social Media ‘Experts’. I would also add HR professionals to that list. Like social media, the idea of social communication isn’t new and I found the clarity and straight-forward explanations peppered throughout the book guided me through and kept underlining the difference.
Instead of being packed full of tips on how to use Twitter, which most books in the similar ilk seem to have, and which would not be appropriate here, Mike’s book focuses on the ‘real social networks’ already at play within organisations and communities, and on those that can be created to support new initiatives and agendas.
It’s all about being social
I found the most important element that helps set this book apart is the fact that it makes the distinction between social communication and social media and that the key word in those terms – social – is the path to success.
Setting aside all the gadgets, theories and noise that is around, I think the author cuts through it all to peel back the layers to the core; social communication, and simpler than that, the effectiveness of using word of mouth to deliver change and communicate with those around you.
Having said that, it does offer ideas on how to use LinkedIn to identify the tribes within organisations, more on tribes later.
To quote the book, it says that:
using the techniques and tools it explores, you have access to an approach to communication that channels power, precision and passion directly to the challenges you and your organisation face.
Importantly it says that by using them you’ll avoid being a social media trainwreck. What a great description. Having a railway background, that particularly made me smile. So how do we keep on track, what is the approach, why Lincoln, what makes this book different and what are my lasting impressions?
What struck me was the no nonsense stance. I found the content drew me in and reading it the second time was even better. During the first reading I was nodding along and wanting to see what was next, whereas during the second reading I took much more detail onboard. The right hand side of the book works in the usual conventional way, whereas the left hand side has chunky, thought-provoking quotes that would work well as stand alone text at the bottom of presentations.
Mike examines the ideas behind Abraham Lincoln’s political campaign in 1840 and cites five principles for winning electoral campaigns, which as you read the book, you can see how they apply to social or corporate communications in 2011:
- In each location, create a sub-committee
- Prepare a perfect list of all the voters
- Determine with certainty whom each voter will support
- To persuade the undecided, send in someone they trust
- Turn out the Good Whigs on Election Day.
What helps make this book different is the fact it examined tribes within this mix. It looked at tribes and networks and offered straight-forward advice to help identify them within organisations, stating that at its core, social communication is built around tribes and networks that are constantly forming and reforming around the organisation.
Having attended a New Brand Tribalism day in November 2009, the concept of tribes isn’t new to me, but I think the approach and cohesiveness of the thinking and tactics presented in the book makes it viable.
What are my lasting impressions?
I’ll leave you with some of the quotes that have been whizzing around in my head since I read them. It goes without saying that reading the book will provide far more context and detail and I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
The real breakthrough of social communication isn’t the ability to communicate with more people more cheaply. It’s the ability to focus communication on the few people who matter most.
Social communication is about the selectivity to be effective without being offensive
With tribal communication, focus on the nature, power, speed and cohesion of these groups, particularly as they transcend the limitations of the organisational chart
Step back and think about the informal social and conversational networks that drive real communication – not just the tools that may help give it shape and velocity.
Congratulations to Mike on writing such a thought-provoking book. I’m always interested in finding new things to read. As you can tell I clearly enjoyed it and that’s not due to the fact it was a complimentary copy(!), I genuinely believe it’s worth checking out.
You can find it on Amazon.
Have you read anything good lately? What’s on your reading list? Do get in touch and share your thoughts, Rachel.
Post published: 23 May 2011.