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To get the benefit, you will need to work at it
on 29 October 2013
Christopher Holloman produced a bestseller in The Social Media MBA and this led him to speak at a number of events around the world - which no doubt he hopes to repeat - and in the process he came across many good case studies. This book is the fruit of that experience. Does it deserve to be another bestseller?
I'm not convinced. It's a useful book and if it perfectly meets your needs - then, stating the obvious, it's what you need. But this is what it gives you.
There are 25 case studies, three of them focused on "set up", mainly creating a centre of excellence, two of them focused on strategy, although I think that's a generous word, and the rest focused on the deployment of social media practice in a variety of different "departments", such as PR, sales, customer service, product development, and innovation. The studies of these deployments are generally better. In each case there is an introductory executive summary and background followed by "The Case". Commonly there are "Lessons Learned", and if you gather these across the many case studies and do your own analysis they give you some food for thought.
They tell us about the people involved, indeed they and their CVs are showcased, as well as what they do. There is also some analysis of the situation of the company and a statement of the objectives. So if you're looking for ideas about what people have actually done, then this will give you many, although most of the case studies are targeted around specific forms of deployment.
On the other hand if you're looking for some deep thinking, a structure that will help you to navigate your way through this complexity, this is not the place to look. You should also bear in mind that case studies like this often take a favourable line. I am aware in more than one case of considerably other complexities and people involved in the success than those that appear in the case study.
Moreover one of the classic problems is the repeated use of "mid-level abstractions". These are nice words that seem to sum up something significant, but perhaps if they were food you would end up feeling hungry afterwards. Moreover, especially at the strategic level there are platitudes, encouraging words for a business case or strategy presentation, but the fundamental question is how would you actually do it? The case studies are strongest when they are focusing on tactical methods for getting internal buy in and external results.
Case studies were developed as a method of teaching and then they were used as part of group discussion with an academic leader. To get the full benefit, do the same kind of work for yourself.