Welcome to the Fifth Estate by Geoff Livingston - Book review

Welcome to the Fifth Estate

How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy

By: Geoff Livingston

Published: May 31, 2011
Format: Paperback, 216 pages
ISBN-10: 0910155860
ISBN-13: 978-0910155861
Publisher: Bartleby Press

"This book provides organizations and executives that are struggling to adopt social media strategies for their companies with a foundation to help create them", writes social media expert and entrepreneur Geoff Livingston, in his insightful and revolutionary book Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy. The author describes how to develop an overall social media strategy for a business, and how to leverage those principles into a an effective social networking marketing strategy.

Geoff Livingston understands both the cultural importance and business potential imparted by social media. The author makes an important contribution to the social media literature through his recognition that social media, including blogs and the most popular platforms, are now an integral part of the overall media landscape. As the title of the book makes clear, the mainstream media as the well known Fourth Estate, has been joined by the social and citizen content creation of the Fifth Estate. With the potential of this empowerment in hand, Geoff Livingston provides the clarity of vision necessary for crafting a Fifth Estate based strategy that guides business leaders from the planning stages, to overall implementation of the plan, and a measurement of the strategy's reach and results.

Geoff Livingston (photo left) recognizes that every company requires a strategy for all of its business initiatives. Social media is no different from other endeavors, and requires a well planned and executed strategy as well. After an overview of the rise of citizen media, in the form of the Fifth Estate, Geoff Livingston challenges business leaders and managers to determine if indeed their company is ready to embrace a social media strategy. This crucial self examination will determine whether the company has both the resources and the capacity to develop and apply a social media strategy in the right way from the very beginning. For many companies, the answer to this critical question will be that they are indeed not ready to embark on a social marketing initiative that involves giving up control of the message, allocating the appropriate resources, and establishing the proper level of employee trust.

Geoff Livingston offers the companies who are ready for a social media initiative with the tools necessary for becoming part of the Fifth Estate. This transition from traditional media thinking to a citizen media focus gives the company and its people an opportunity to learn the concepts of social interaction prior to devising a social marketing strategy. Once this familiarity phase creates a level of comfort with the different approach to customers, only then can an a truly customer and community focused strategy be crafted and utilized effectively. When the community approach is embraced, a longer term strategy can be developed to sustain the community orientation over the long term. With these concepts firmly in place, community members as the participants will become, will contribute to the overall success of the Fifth Estate, and enhance their own brand reputation in return.

For me, the power of the book is how Geoff Livingston takes a practical and realistic approach to becoming part of the Fifth Estate and transforming that participation into an overall business strategy. Unlike many social media books that tell only part of the story, and often avoid some of the more challenging questions, this book offers a sense of clarity and focus on strategy, promotion, sustainability, and measurement. Bolstered by actual case studies, the information provided by Geoff Livingston, and his associate author and business partner Kami Huyse, is real world tested to work. The chapter on measurement, provided by Kami Huyse, offers actionable advice on the all too often overlooked area of results measurement. Overall, this is a must read book that will be referred to again and again by business people as they become ever more experienced as part of the Fifth Estate.

I highly recommend the important and definitive social media strategy guide book Welcome to the Fifth Estate: How to Create and Sustain a Winning Social Media Strategy by Geoff Livingston, to any business leaders and managers who are serious about citizen media and becoming fully contributing members of the rapidly emerging and evolving Fifth Estate. This book will start you and your company on the right foot as you enter into the exciting world of citizen media, and help you to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that have derailed many social media campaigns in the past.

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