A few weeks ago I was contacted by Megan Dougherty at Firepole Marketing and asked to review Danny Iny‘s new book Engagement from Scratch!, which is all about building loyal audiences online. Although I love reading and reviewing books, I was a little weary of tackling a book about internet marketing. As a blogger with over 4 years of experience and a full time search engine marketing manager (pay-per-click advertising), I’ve seen more than my fair share of materials put together by “experts” telling Joe Smallbusiness how to market his business online. I am constantly frustrated by self-proclaimed experts and gurus claiming to have all the answers about how a company should tweet, post on facebook, blog, or optimize their website for search engines. Many are genuinely helpful and informed but others lack accountability, experience, and track records. In spite of my qualms about “expert opinion,” I began reading Engagement from Scratch and my skepticism was quickly disarmed.
Engagement from Scratch is really a collection of essays written by a group of successful bloggers, writers, and marketers who were asked one question: what would you do if you had to build an online community from scratch? As I quickly found out, most of the contributors felt the same way I did in regards to internet marketing: what works for some individual or organization isn’t guaranteed to work for another. Only through experimentation, measurement, and analysis can someone truly find what works for them. That’s not to say the book isn’t helpful. Engagement from Scratch provides ideas about getting started and generating results for readers who recognize the importance of building online communities. Also, most of the writers present their ideas in such a way that comes across as transparent and genuine rather than an attempt to get a few more Twitter followers or generate some leads (although I’m sure none of them would complain if that did happen).
The book begins with a few essays about setting goals, mapping out a strategy, and getting an online presence going in preparation for achieving a robust, engaged community. The importance of being transparent, patient, and passionate are stressed in this section. Although these ideas were really nothing new to me, I was struck by the points about how crucial it is to put your own flair into anything you do online. Following the lead of others can be alright for a time, but eventually, we all must carve our own paths to engagement.
Following the introductory segment of Engagement from Scratch were several sections discussing key aspects of the audience building process. Defining an audience and communicating with them, producing the type of content that they react to, how to promote the content and the community through social media, and how to be yourself along the way were all discussion topics. There is a ton of great information and useful insights scattered throughout these sections. Because I don’t think the things that stood out to me will necessarily be important to everyone else, I’ll spare you the details. However, I think you’ll find something useful here that you can apply in your own community building efforts.
Engagement from Scratch concludes with sections about learning from mistakes and actionable tips for accelerating the community building process. Most of the essays in these sections weren’t as compelling as some of their predecessors but the chapter written by Jeff Bullas on building a global audience was excellent. There were a lot of insights mentioned in his article like investing some money into a domain name and hosting or adding symbols of credibility to your website that I think are essential to the success of any community building campaign. Needless to say, I’m sure you’ll find some pieces of information that are useful as well.
Overall, I think Engagement from Scratch is an excellent and honest read for people who want to build vibrant online communities. It caused me to think a lot about my own blogging and social media efforts and will eventually cause me to make some changes to better engage with you, my audience. I also want to thank Danny, Megan, and the rest of the Firepole Marketing team for sending me a copy of their book.
To buy a copy of Engagement from Scratch visit: