Now Reading: The New Influencers, by Paul Gillin

This book was recommended to me by colleagues at the California Healthcare Foundation, given my obvious interest in blogging (sort of…). I have had great experience with Web 2.0 tools for leadership and change management in my own work, so I am always interested in others’ experiences.

Like Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, this work is stimulating and very supportive of using this new technology. It is geared toward a marketer / journalism audience, and includes a healthy number of success anecdotes of ordinary people that have entered the blogosphere. You can’t help but want to start a blog, or blog more when you hear that a piece of work you posted could garner 30,000 downloads in a month.

Some of the content praised in the book, such as Download with Heather and Jonelle, appears to have fallen by the wayside. This podcast hasn’t been updated since 2006. I think this actually supports the argument that Gillin makes, which is, “we are going to have to work harder for a little while,” because of the immediacy of this communication.

There are great success stories told, such as of GM’s FastLane blog. This one is often mentioned in discussions about Web2.0 and provides a good case study. One thing that interested me is the different treatment of Microsoft Corporation in this book as opposed to Naked Conversations. The sense that I got from Naked Conversations was that the policy was closer to ambivalence than of open directed support. This probably comes the different perspectives of being internal to the conversation (in Robert Scoble’s case) instead of external to it.

I think this book works well for the converted as well as for the pre-converted, though. I learned a little bit more about the currency of links, and the way that people that blog think. One thing I have been grappling with lately is the idea of allowing promotion of commercial products and services. It seems that this is something of a norm among the top bloggers, but then again, this is their career focus. I have tended to subscribe more to a Consumers Union model of information dispersal.

There is also value in learning about the leaders of this movement, including Richard Edelman, of Edelman PR. There are powerhouses in the industry embracing this technology. At the same time, Gillin talks about the disruption that the technology brings, in an analogous way to many other industries:

In order to adjust to an online-driven model, these institutions will need to jettison vast numbers of sales, editorial, production and marketing staff and fundamentally remake their businesses. I think a lot of media executives understand this, but they’re powerless to do anything about it. Their investors don’t have the patience to endure the short-term losses they’ll have to take to make the transition. So they’ll milk profits out of declining markets rather than position themselves for growth in the new ones, which is a sure formula for failure.

I agree with the premise of the book that blogs are not going away, much as e-mail never did:

Ron Bloom, of the PodShow Network calls it the 5/50 phenomenon: Within five years, he believes, 50 percent of the content that people listen to will be generated by other consumers.

I once said that every member in the health care system I worked in would have a blog in 5 years (whether or not we hosted it), because the content in them would add incredible meaning to the health care encounter between patient and physician and family and community. If it’s good for other consumers, it should be good for health care.


It's a first for me to receive a comment from the author of a book that I was critiquing. I like the blogosphere more every day. Thanks, Paul, for taking the time to look.

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