Category Archives: Book Reviews

You Are the Key: Unlocking the Door Through Social Selling book review

You Are the Key: Unlocking Door Through Social SellingI read You Are the Key: Unlocking the Door Through Social Selling cover to cover as someone that is very familiar with the content and their goals. If I stepped back and looked at it from a new comer to the ideas of using social networks as a social selling tool, they cover the basics very thoroughly and then get a bit lighter in the actual selling.

The book only has one flaw that got in my way an that was the breaking up of the networks across the chapters causing them to repeat themselves. I think they could have covered all of the initial aspects in You Are the Key: Unlocking the Door Through Social Selling, then set up each network thoroughly, then closed up with social selling as a whole. Jumping back and forth of a topic and then into each network made you have to go back and forth between them to validate what they referred to (or set it up if new).

The book does include many screenshots of steps making that helpful to follow along. I only found a few things that had already changed since they wrote this. But, that is the nature of social networks in how fast they change the UI and possibly where you click menus.

There are eight chapters in all with some resources at the end. I personally go against (and present in depth on it) some of what they instructed you to do in chapter 3 on setting up your social personas. I feel they have you giving too much information in some of the examples.

Overall, readers of You Are the Key: Unlocking the Door Through Social Selling can walk any C-level person through creating social network accounts and using each as a tool to reach more prospects. I would try to look for each social network in each chapter and go through the book that way. Finish a network setup and understand how to use it before going on the next one.

Thanks to them for sending this over free for review. I had a great grasp of the total concept which made it a bit easier for me to dissect it.

Book Review: What the Plus! Google+ For the Rest of Us by Guy Kawasaki

What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us

Guy Kawasaki is back with a new book What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us that I was anxious to have them send over for review.  I have had the pleasure of interviewing Guy a couple of times now (see the archived audio interview here) and was sent Enchantment for review and liked his writing style. This book was not an exception to appreciating how he simplifies things.  As a Google+ early adopter I was curious to view it from the eyes of a new person but I came away learning a bunch of things along the way in the ~200 pages.

The chapters walk you through reasons Guy likes and believes in Google+, creating your profile and into mastering circles and streams.  He does a great job of explaining how circles work in simplified terms and why you should build your circles around you interest.  As well as share your own circles with others.

Before you start commenting away or posting your own material Guy explains how important your profile is to those to draw people in and have them circle you. I know I need to go back and now update mine a bit more. Your own picture is a key along with reasonable information about who you are and why they may find you interesting. All of us have something to share and that is what Google Plus is for.

Book review: Smashing WordPress (Third Edition)

Smashing WordPress Beyond the Blog Thord Daniel Hendengren has released the third update for the excellent book Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog. The five part and 14 chapter book is a bible for anyone wishing to work with WordPress as a platform. This is my third WordPress book review but I found myself coming back to the first two editions so I was anxious to review the third which is 350 pages.

Thord presumes a basic understanding of HTML, CSS and PHP. He starts the book with understanding a performing installs in the first section moving on to designing themes. Most people often look for free themes to begin and go from there. I was happy to see an entire section around plugins in section three before he covers some additional features and functions in the final section. I should mention there is also an appendix where he lists some plugins and themes to help you get started.

Even with all the WordPress sites I have installed and currently run (like this one ) there are always tips. Such things as configuring the server to use an external MySQL database are covered right away. I also learned how to adjust the default autosave and revision history amounts. An awesome tip for everyone.

Chapter two digs right into the core of WordPress including template files, themes and template tags (not t be confused with tags in posts describing content). Once you get a crash course on how those work he takes you right into the loop.

If you are going to do more than just apply a free template them knowing how PHP queries aka the loop work is a key to doing cool stuff. For example almost every theme has a loop that shows the latest blog posts. Without this code you would have static pages instead of ones showing the most recent updates. Chapter three does a great job of giving code samples for 25 pages.

Once you master some code Thord takes you into the design section of the book for theme creation basics, template files, loop usage, widgets and pages and pages of code samples.

The next two chapters deal with child themes and advanced theme usage taking WordPress to yet another level of functionality. I like how the author gives good design rules as well as the technical side. It is easy to make a junky looking theme. RSS feed building is a hidden gem inside chapter 6 so if you aren’t going to do advanced work make sure to find those pages to understand WordPress and RSS better.

Chapter 7 is not like other WordPress books that cover plugins. The author is not telling you the best ones of use. Instead he teaches how and why to build plugins. He finishes with using widgets to utilize the built plugins and extend WordPress functionality in chapter 8.

Section four starts with how WordPress can be a multiple author and strong content management system or CMS. I know I mentioned learning how to make WordPress fluid was a key of earlier chapters but he does cover how to use it best as a static site.

Everyone is all about social right now ans chapter 10 is built around his showing how to integrate Facebook, Twitter, URL shorteners, Google+ and even third party comment solutions. I actually use Disqus on all my sites.

Chapter 11 is cool design tricks and tips for proper 404 error pages. Media is becoming a must have feature and chapter 12 dogs into embedding and techniques for best presentation.

Chapters 13 and 14 deal with extra and uncommon usage with WordPress. It gives a great idea of the power of the platform and all the things you can make it do. He also points out things you shouldn’t use it for.

Finally the appendix is a great starter list of plugins and starter themes to get you moving quickly without developing your own. The author gives a reason why you would want to use them and a link (at the time of writing) where to grab them.

I know this is a much longer book review but anything less would not do this book justice. The third revision only strengthens why this is the go to source for More advanced WordPress understanding and examples.

Disclosure: the links for Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog are Amazon affiliate links but no compensation was given for the review, ever.

Book review: Social Game Design by Tim Fields and Brandon Cotton

Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics

With the recent push of social business and gamification I wanted a viewpoint from the originators of the idea.  Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and Mechanics by Tim Social Game Design: Monetization Methods and MechanicsFields and Brandon Cotton comes from true successful experience.  Game designers lead the way in gamification and monetization with many of the tips applicable to social business design.

I am glad I was able to get this book for review after getting into the second chapter.  The first chapter was just introductory and gave you an idea on what the book does not cover.  I fully anticipated it to be about online and mobile games with tons of technique I could apply outside of that.

Chapter 2 has a subsection that summed up social business ideas in many enterprises.  Just being online or multiplayer in their words does not make you social.  This is a point often overlooked by businesses entering the deployment and ideas.  The ability to bring employees, partners and customers back again and again is a key component.

A highlight of the book is the interviews at the end of each section with major names in social game monetization.  They openly talk about how they built the empires and what mistakes they made along the way.  It is great knowledge and the same mistakes that we will all make.

While chapter 3 is only a few pages on the history of game monetization,chapter 4 gives the business reason to build social into the game or your company site if you look at it with the same lenses I did.  Industry terms were not as important that were shown in Chapter 5 but serve a good reference point for some analytics you will need when deploying.

I felt Chapter 7 was the most important one I read showing you how to acquire, keep and regain users.  Not only through innovation but by building in rewards and systems to keep them energized about your platform.  Acquiring the users is the highest cost a social business will have.  Providing value back to the enterprise is a grassroots effect.  Getting the data into the system and having it grow is where rewards, leaderboards and badges come into play.

For the gamers reading this the book definitely covers virtual goods, payment systems and forms of currency.  Being able to decide what platforms will be beneficial and how to set varying levels of gaming are all explored with great expertise.

This book has value for both the game writer and business trying to get into the social game.

Disclosure: The above links are Amazon affiliate links for the book.