Last week on my way down to WOMMA-University
I threw Joseph Jaffe’s latest tome – Join the Conversation in my bag. Once the doors to the plane closed and I could no longer frantically update Twitter, I opened it up and started reading. (We sat on the ground a LONG TIME so by the time I made Miami; I was through the whole thing.)

Now a couple of weeks ago in my review I said that Groundswell is the how-to book for marketers wishing to play in a post-cluetrain world – and I now see that Join the Conversation bridges the intellectual divide between The Cluetrain Manifesto and Groundswell. The first half of the book is a bit scholarly – and while I was a bit put off by this at first, I really appreciate it having finished the book.

When Jaffe reaches back to George Orwell’s on media and connects it to Web 2.0 a single word pops into my mind. Subversive. That’s what this whole social computing movement is. It’s subversive because it’s a revolution that takes power out of the hands of giant corporations and gives it back to people. With the Internet as plumbing we can find our tribe and talk to them – regardless of time and distance. Jaffe makes the point that Orwell would have loved the subversive nature of this revolution – the new age of conversation. Power to the people!

Jaffe makes a passionate argument that markets are conversations – so of course marketers must be involved. Before reading the book I considered myself a bit of a Purist (on the Purist => Corporatist Scale) and I still do. What comes clear is how this apparent gulf between people and corporations can be bridged. It is simple really; corporations need to act human if they want to participate in the conversation. And that means giving up control, not always being right, respecting people building relationships instead of running campaigns, listening and acting like caring human beings.

Along with lots of great examples of how companies are doing things right in conversational marketing, he has some great counter examples – and he’s not afraid to call them out! (TIP: If you find yourself asking the lawyers to contact one of your best customers who is doing something odd with your brand or product, you are about to nominate yourself for the “Join the Conversation Hall of Shame”. )

My favorite thing about this book? Jaffe is very passionate about this subject and he doesn’t pull punches. He is happy to get in an argument – and even offend if he thinks you don’t get it. I also like the scholarly approach of the first half, because with this Join the Conversation provides the intellectual grounding in how corporations can get on board the Cluetrain.



4 Responses to JOIN the CONVERSATION: Book Review

  1. AC says:

    Here’s a nice little piece about (not) adapting to the world in the age of web 2.0

  2. Andrea Hill says:

    Hello Tom, you’ve managed to mention three books that are currently on my “to read” list. Is there a particular order you’d recommend reading them?


  3. tomob says:

    HI Andrea:

    I think you have to start with the Cluetrain. I would read Join the Conversation next and then Groundswell.


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