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Review: Social State by Esteban Contreras

January 20, 2013

I’ve had the pleasure of following Esteban Contreras since his early days as host of the Social Nerdia podcast and blog. In fact, he hosted me as an interviewee back in 2009. When he announced he was writing a book on the state of social media, I was eager to get a copy. I’ve long identified with his point of view because all those years ago when we first met, we were both struggling through many of the same challenges and opportunities in companies that were just beginning to embrace social media as a marketing tactic.

The past few years have seen enormous shifts in not just the technology of media, but also the culture and psychology of social media, as well. It’s extremely difficult to keep up with it all, but Esteban has managed to do just that. In short, I wish I had something like his book, Social State, four years ago when my team was building a B2B social marketing program from the ground up. I would’ve given each of my stakeholders a copy of this book as a comprehensive introduction to what social media is and why it’s become the phenomenon that it is.

What is it about Social State that is so important for marketing stakeholders?  Without question, even after five years as a solid marketing tactic, companies are still struggling to balance the need for immediate bottom-line ROI with the benefit of longer-term customer relationship returns. I’ve seen countless fabulous social marketing programs slashed to pieces because stakeholders preferred to rely on “traditional” tactics that yield short-term but immediate results.

It’s a lot easier in most businesses to claim immediate success, however fleeting, than to urge patience for success that lies down the road. Often, this expediency is not purely a numbers game—I’m convinced that if stakeholders truly understood the dynamics of social media and its culture, they would be more likely to embrace it to its full potential. That’s the key value of this book.

Social State is not a step-by-step roadmap for launching campaigns and programs, so don’t expect to get guidance on crafting or executing a marketing program. Rather, it’s an artfully painted landscape of possibilities and lessons. The author discusses the ins and outs of the major social platforms, but also offers insights on the qualities that makes those platforms so powerful. Then he speculates, with input from industry colleagues, where this social journey will take us next. Whether you’re a social media newbie or veteran, you will find gems in this book.

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