Download Welcome to the Fifth Estate

Welcome to the Fifth Estate by Geoff Livingston

It’s almost been two years since my second book Welcome to the Fifth Estate was published. Because of the compensation issues, time since publishing, and frankly, the plethora of social media and online marketing books out there, it’s time to give it to you for free!

Please feel free to download the book here. The password is “Fifth.” I’m sorry that it’s only available to you in this PDF format. And per the issues link, please forgive any typos.

From a content perspective, the Fifth Estate offers the deepest dive into social media of my three books. Here’s a glimpse:

  • A fantastic introduction from Mashable’s Chief Strategy Officer Adam Ostrow.
  • The first chapter details the media theories driving social networks and communities online.
  • Chapter Four offers perspective into the four types of strategies most frequently used in social networks; participation/community, content, influencer marketing, and crowdsourcing.
  • My former colleague Kami Huyse delivers perhaps the best 20 pages you can imagine on social media measurement in Chapter Six.
  • Chapter Seven offers tips to handle and successfully adapt to rapidly evolving social media.

Enjoy! Feedback is certainly welcome.

Bashing Google+: Fashionable, but not Smart

Pinata time
Image by Monkey at Large

Many social media wonks bash Google+ at social media conferences and in online conversations. Doubting the new social network is the fashionable thing to do. Yet you have to wonder if this absolute negative view is professionally smart.

While the network has not surpassed Facebook and to date lacks the business impact of established networks Twitter and LinkedIn, it has developed its own community. Engagement waned after a stellar launch, but new voices continue to join Google+ and more of Google’s core applications have been integrated into the network. As a result, traffic has increased. AddThis recently reported that Google+ had its third highest in bound traffic week to date.

Google continues integrating its entire ecosystem into the + social network, and the biggest social chip is being added to the mix — YouTube. As YouTube (and Chrome) become more integrated, Google+ will only gather further steam.

Keep in mind, my attitude about Google+ has been conservative with a wait and see approach. As time has continued doubt remains, but Google+ is consistently a top 10 referrer to my blog. In general, because of the larger ecosystem, the smart thing to do is to begin engaging mostly because of search benefits, and to protect brand reputation.

Regardless of pros or cons, a professional’s job is to view Google+ with an analytical eye. Otherwise, it is hard to provide objective counsel.

History Shows Google+ Won’t Beat Facebook

Much of the Google+ negativity finds its basis in the over exuberance of some social media experts who initially lauded Google+ as the great Facebook killer. But marketing history shows that it is almost impossible to unseat an entrenched market leader like Facebook head-to-head.

When competing against a dominant leader with no major differences in technology, distribution or product, most companies cannot win. Avis’s “We Try Harder” positioning against Hertz rental cars was an acknowledgement that it could not escape second in the marketplace.

Ironically, Google is one of those rare companies who has knocked out a market leader. In the 1990s Yahoo! had a lock in the search marketplace. But in 2000 it lost its lead to Google, which won the market with its unique search algorithm.

Yet Google’s success over Yahoo was due to an improvement in technology. Without some sort of major game changing technology or major collapse on Facebook’s part, Google+ will likely end up competing for second place in traffic and page views against Twitter and LinkedIn.

True Blue

Go as a River

True blue — loyalty in your views and causes — is an admirable quality.

Blue means more culturally, too. It can mean feeling down.

When I consider this blog over the past year and half — really since I began writing Welcome to the Fifth Estate — I have the latter kind of blues because I sacrificed the true blue of authenticity, and writing what I cared about.

Yes, I was supporting a book. Yes, I do care about social media, but as time has come to pass, it’s clear not enough to write about it every post three, four even five times a week.

During the Fifth Estate period this blog became well-ranked. It’s the fourth such blog I have written or created the strategic plan for that has earned these types of rankings. This is a noteworthy achievement that many respected marketers want and most bloggers love.

But as a writer there is something immensely unsatisfying about the restraints of a beat, particularly one like social media that is well, limiting in several ways. For all intents and purposes it is the limitations of being a trade journalist, and not writing about anything with serious life consequence. Frankly, to become top ranked in social media there is an element of selling out — writing about Twitter, Facebook, Google+, shamelessly pursuing retweets, Likes and plusses, etc. — that is just unpalatable after a while.

I work to find ways to positively impact society via media and communications with as much reach as possible. These are the types of projects I successfully find professionally. Yet at times my social media writing has little to do with my personal passion.

It gives me the blues to thing about what I have done to become well read, and to market. There is a sense of dismay and personal loathing when you realize you have sold out.

I am sorry for this. Not just to my reader, but to myself, for compromising my character in such a fashion.

After all the Google+ hoopla last July, I stopped writing about popular social media topics every post. I also stopped making myself post four or five times a week. The social media expert land grab around Google+ was the final straw, killing my passion for the game.

My rankings plummeted. My love for writing the blog has returned. Writing flows from me again, tapped back into my soul, a river running its natural course.

Popularity may be worth it to some. In fact, it can downright lucrative, if done right. Without popularity and ranking as a goal, this blog can have so much more passion and discuss important issues. It can address aspects of the Internet, media, marketing, cultural and life issues beyond the popular top ten list of Twitter tips. Yes it will be eclectic, but even when the posts are social media oriented (and I will continue blogging about social media), they will be pure, and not contrived to meet a quota of top ranked posts.

This blog in the past few weeks has been more representative of my heart. My conclusion: It’s better to be true blue.

The Post Social Media Revolution Era Begins?

Leederville house 2
Image by Vagawi

It’s 2011, social media is not new, and for all intents and purposes, there are no new form factors, just better versions. Innovation in the space revolves around better form factors and features. This can be likened to innovation in established sectors, like better DSLR cameras for consumers. Point being, we’ve entered the post social media revolution era.

This is the era when the dust settles. It’s the time when consolidation occurs, and best practices are refined.

Traditional media companies and new competitors are entering through acquisition or innovation upon the old forms of social media. Social media experts seem a little tired, rehashing the same lessons within the “new” innovations.

Consider that the greatest innovations and progress this year in U.S. social media have come from Google+, Spotify and Instagram (hat tip: Allyson Kapin). None of these are truly new form factors. They play off of and better predecessors like Facebook, Napster and Camera+. That’s not to belittle the innovation that these tools have brought to the market.

But there are no new form factors, and no major revelations about the conversation anymore. People are still people. And many of them young and old have experimented with social media. Your grandma uses Facebook now (1/3 of 50-64 year olds now use social networks).

Social media has grown up. It may not grow much bigger. Growth rates are now in the single digits year over year within the U.S. adult population. Conversational media is now finding itself in a bit of a routine.

And the revolution? Well, let’s pull-up an arm chair instead. That MacBook can get a little heavy after a while.

What do you think about the state of social media innovation?

There Are No Experts, Only More Experiences

Red herring @ Lowestoft, Suffolk
Image by timparkinson

After reading the chatter about clown-gate and ensuing social media expert bashing posts last month, the first reaction was to ignore it and continue real work. It was the ultimate red herring. But upon further reflection, it seems necessary to point out that all parties became obsessed with the word expert. There really is no such thing, there are only experiences.

The reemergence of the social media expert meme was fueled by two well known voices who have had great successes in the past. Yet they sought to put themselves above their peers. Why? Who knows. Perhaps they were trying to sell books or needed attention. Maybe they were just venting.

It doesn’t matter.

Some of us have more experiences than others. This lends insight into current situations, and can usually lead to a better result.

However, as the old saying goes, you are only as good as your last ball game. We each have an opportunity to excel or fail every day. Even failure provides an experience, one that can create growth.

What does matter is that those of us who care about our business avoid petty distractions. We need to continue serving our customers with great communications. And we have to keep evolving. The media continues to change, becoming faster, and more mobile and visual. Staying abreast of this ever changing online world, and continuing to deliver excellence is the real task at hand.

It is only by gaining more experiences that we can excel. What do you think?

Additional Conversations

Jim Long: Work Hard, Be Excellent, Kick Ass, and Let That Be Your Differentiator

Shel Holtz: I’d Hire a Social Media Expert, and Maybe You Should, Too

Free Social Media Strategy Content

4 Types of Social Media Strategy for Businesses

Today, you are welcome to free content from the forthcoming book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate. It is a great pleasure to offer this to you as a loyal reader.

The Fifth Estate Strategy Wiki has two versions of the above powerpoint (for businesses and nonprofits) featuring the ideas presented in chapter four on strategy. It also has links to a dozen blog posts about strategy, many of which are not included in the book, and other resources. You can visit the wiki here. Please feel free to take this content and use it, and become a wiki member and add/comment/edit.

So many social media books have been published as vehicles for the personalities behind them. That would not be a successful outcome for Welcome to the Fifth Estate. This book is meant to provide ideas on how to create a strategy for social media within the context of a larger communications program. It will be a success if more practitioners understand and create effective strategies, rather than deploy tactics and tools alone. That means getting these ideas in the marketplace is the most important aspect of publishing the book.

There will be future updates to the wiki, including additional pages on tactics, measurement and sustainability. Expect more free information on this wiki, as well as an ongoing podcast of the book, which will disseminate the book’s ideas, again without cost to interested parties.

Thank you for your support.