BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

The math of making an impact ...

This one came to me courtesy of the authors … Chris Brogan (@broganmedia) had queried on Twitter whether anybody was interested in getting a review copy, and (of course) my virtual hand shot up. It's the second book from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (@julien), although it's not exactly a follow-up to their previous Trust Agents. To start on a gripe, as I've noted previously, I “have issues” with mnemonic acronyms that don't immediately prove memorable or useful … admittedly, not everything can be as awesome as the one for remembering how CSS properties are called around an object (“trouble”: Top-Right-Bottom-Left) ... but so often these are more useful in marketing an idea than applying it, and I was, frankly, disappointed that The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? was, to a certain extent, built around one of these. At least in this case I have been able to retain the word - “CREATE” - which is what is spelled out in the “equation”:
Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E) … where
C = Contrast
R = Reach
E = Exposure
A = Articulation
T = Trust
E = Echo
(And I did have to go look up those – so they didn't exactly stick in my head from reading the book.)

I have a suspicion that perhaps the authors had come up with this “equation” as a way to analyze social media programs (despite their preface’s homage to Magritte), and then extrapolated it out into a general business function. In the early parts of the book, there are several examples of charts and case study break-downs which take various elements of either hypothetical or real-world (McDonalds going into the coffee biz, Instagram's success, etc.) situations and block out these according to those six categories. However, the rest of the book is less about analysis and more about how to achieve these various elements in one's business or projects.

The book is divided up into four sections, Goals, Ideas, Platforms, and Network, with the latter three handling two each (oddly, not “in order”) of the six elements of the “equation”. Most of these chapters end with an analysis according to the equation of a company/example more-or-less highlighting the specific element being discussed. The fact that they ended up approaching the particulars in a different order than how they are set out in the “equation” I think is telling on how limiting these acronym approaches are!

Now, I realize that, considering the above, one might assume that I didn't much care for the book … and this is NOT the case, only that it seemed to me that the messages of the book were being needlessly contorted to fit what was (possibly) a framework conceived in a rather different context. Obviously, all six of those elements are key for reaching an audience in the current web-connected world, and Chris and Julien (and, to their credit, the writing fairly seamlessly keeps a constant “voice”) are quite approachable here. Frankly, most of the time I had the sense of sitting around listening to friends “riff” on a subject rather than being pontificated to by some “expert”. The book is chock-full of recommendations for particular tools, resources, and books (I actually bought a piece of fiction due to their strong recommendation of it), and most of my little bookmarks ended up marking these rather than blocks of text to quote here.

However, one thing I think I want to point out is that, in the “equation” the element of Contrast stands apart, and is pretty much the defining element of that construction. As many other social/marketing writers have noted, excelling in a tightly defined niche is probably the best bet any of us can have in a world that has tens of millions of content creators all looking for a sliver of the available attention. One thing that Brogan and Smith recommend here, which plays to this, is embracing your quirks:
We both have been recently working hard on self-actualization, for lack of a better term. We have both worked harder at being ourselves, unflinching versions of what we feel and believe. One piece of advice we have about the process: Package your quirks.
What do we mean by that? There are many unique things that make you who you are. With a little bit of pruning and positioning, the parts of you that are quirky and different can often separate you from the crowd in a positive way. “Packaging” simply means putting a little bit of attention and mindfulness into the way your represent yourself to the outside world.
This hit home for me, as it's certainly in direct opposition to the voices saying that you need to “Live your life as if your mother is watching.”, self-editing and conforming until you're just another sheep in the herd!

Anyway, with the assorted caveats detailed above, I enjoyed reading The Impact Equation, and felt that I got quite a lot of value from it … although I must admit that I've not gotten around to doing a few of the “exercises” presented in the text as yet. Again, this isn't a book on theory, and it's certainly not a text book, but, as noted, it's like having a long wide-ranging talk with a couple of friends who are very passionate about the way that things get presented in the ever increasingly web-centric world we live in.

However, you're going to have to wait to get this … as its official release date is still nearly a month away … but the on-line big boys have it for pre-order at a substantial discount. If you have an interest in social media, marketing, or the general direction that the world is going … you are likely to get quite a lot out of reading this one.

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Tags: book review

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