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Book Review: Michael Brito Goes for Broke in "Smart Business, Social Business"

Maybe it's his upbringing or perhaps it's his extensive training as a marine, but wow does social media heartthrob Michael Brito do his homework. Smart Business, Social Business (Que) might just be the most thoroughly researched book on the larger topic of social marketing. Hell, had Smart Business, Social Business not been bound with cardboard and filled with parchment, I wouldn’t even have known what to call it, because Brito’s first book felt more like transcribed consulting services than it did a business title. There has to be couple hundred grand worth of consulting fees captured in this three-sitting, 230-pager.

The concept of “zooming in” and “zooming out, popularized in Jim Collins’ Great by Choice, has become the jargon du jour at Eloqua. When someone is too close to an issue, he’s urged to “zoom out” and consider it from a broader perspective; conversely, there are also times when we urge one another to “zoom in” and wrestle with the details. Every chapter in Smart Business, Social Business is a study in zooming out – then zooming in so fast year ears pop. Chapters open with a heady but succinct overview of a particular aspect of social business, then fasten your seatbelts for rapid descent. The rest of the chapter dives deeply into from-the-trenches tips, tools and techniques for how to incorporate the practice into your organization.

While many business books identify a concept, then share best practices and highlight examples – few, if any, do it as relentlessly as Smart Business, Social Business. To read it is to gorge on information.

You see, Brito doesn’t merely point out what to look for in a social media partner, he also supplies questions to ask during the selection process. Rather than just tossing out names of trendy tools, he writes beefy sections detailing the functionality of each technology. Whereas some social media writers breeze over KPIs, not Brito. He shares actual formulas. Instead of simply suggesting you develop a social media policy, Brito delivers an actual template.  The author’s “go for broke” mojo can also be felt in his willingness to address pebble-in-your-shoe nuisances like personal profiles vs. professional profiles with the same zeal as massive topics, such as detailing the state of social business in various countries and detangling the bird’s nest called social CRM.

This isn’t to suggest Smart Business, Social Business isn’t without its shortcomings. It has its flaws. Cisco, Intel and Dell – the trinity of tech companies that “get” social business – are over-represented. Because smaller, non-tech companies may struggle to identify with many of the examples in the book, the lessons may be perceived as similarly out of reach, which would be a shame because they are largely untethered to company size or industry.

Brito also demonstrated a peculiar knack for knowing what his reader is thinking. It seemed that every time I felt anxiety that I am not doing enough in my own role, a reminder that social business is a journey soon followed, assuaging, at least momentarily, my slacker fears. Similarly, there were times when I’d find myself thinking, “If only he’d write about X (e.g., how to convince executives to fund social business initiatives, or a chapter on content marketing), this book would really be great.” Then: boom! There it was, almost as if he anticipated the percolating question.

Smart Business, Social Business isn’t the first book on social media, and it certainly won’t be the last. But it feels more honest than many of the titles I’ve read. It’s as if the author wanted to guarantee he’d never write a second book, because he put everything he had into his first. And you have to admire a guy who goes for broke like that. Even if he could kick your butt and steal your girlfriend.

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