One of the first things that struck me when I began reading Citizen Marketers, was the ability that Ben and Jackie (calling them McConnell and Huba just doesn't fit) have to take a concept as misunderstood as Social Media, and scale it down to where it is accessible to all, and to do so without talking down to the reader. In fact, the book does such a good job of giving background on the various forms of social media, that it can double as a general primer on the subject.
But where CM shines is in explaining what exactly Citizen Marketing is, who these people are, and what motivates them. I'll be honest, going into reading this book, I was a bit worried that this would simply be a collection of case studies providing examples of citizen marketing, bookended with an introduction and conclusion chapter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Ben and Jackie have done exhaustive research into the subject of citizen marketing, and instead of simply rehashing examples such as the CGM buzz behind Snakes on a Plane, Jarvis' Dell Hell, or the liberation of Fiona Apple (quite possibly my favorite story in the book, which I'd never heard of previously), Ben and Jackie talked to all the parties involved, and discovered what they did, why they did it, and who they did it for.
Their conclusion was that they were dealing with, concerned citizens. Citizens whose love of their favorite brand compelled them to take action on its behalf. And thanks to the rise of the internet, and more specifically social media, those concerned citizens not only have the tools necessary to produce their own brand marketing, they have the ability to reach others, and mobilize them to share their cause. One person's blog post lamenting the cancellation of a favorite TV show can blossom into a full-fledged petition drive that saves the series. A bad customer service experience at a fast food restaurant can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube within minutes. Jarvis' post about his dissatisfaction over his Dell erupted into Dell Hell, which eventually forced the Austin-based computer maker to totally re-examine their customer-service, and revamp their policy on reading and responding to bloggers(IOW, creating a policy for reading and responding to bloggers).
But in my opinion, the heart of the book lies in Ben and Jackie's breakdown of Citizen Marketers into four distinct categories, which they have dubbed 'The Four Fs', all with their own motivations for their actions:
The Filters collect all manner of stories, blog posts, podcasts, etc. related to a specific topic, and present them in one place. These filters serve mainly as an aggregator for content in all forms related to a particular topic, but also add their own analysis and commentary on occasion.
The Fanatics are very similar to evangelists. They love(obsess?) over their favorite brand/product/person/company, and are committed to informing others about this topic. They are in the truest sense of the term 'Customer Evangelist'. But they also have great love for the brand/company/person, and aren't afraid to criticize any action that they feel is detrimental to its progress.
Facilitators are community creators/builders. They bring like-minded individuals together around a central framework, usually an only forum or blog. Ben and Jackie liken them to 'online mayors'.
Firecrackers are the one-hit wonders of citizen marketers. They may create a hit sensation viral video, or a blogging meme, and then never be heard from again. As with their namesake, they burn very brightly and quickly, and burn out just as rapidly.
In conclusion, buy this book. It isn't a marketing book, it's a book about your community of customers. What motivates them, and what inspires them to take action, both on behalf of, and against your brand. A customer is shaken from their apathy toward a brand, and spurned to action either in response to a brand's indifference towards them, or as a result of the brand's reaching out and offering the hand of empowerment to them. Right now your brand likely sits on one side of this fence, and gaining a better understanding of your customers and what gives them the incentive to act, will help you understand how they view you.