Amongst all the hype of a vanguard internet mega–book launch by Michael Hyatt (124,000 Twitter followers; 400,000 blog readers/month), the chairman of Thomas Nelson publishing (the 6th largest US book publisher, Nº1 Christian publisher) on the subject of ‘how an author might use the internet to broadcast his message’, it’s clearly difficult to separate the book (Platform) from the man (massive levels of experience) and the marketing campaign (shockingly effective and generous) but, this being a book review, I shall try.
Michael obviously knows what he’s talking about here and in just under 300 pages he provides a wealth of information for anyone who wishes to use blogs, Twitter and Facebook to build relationships online, to try and get their message across and to ultimately sell whatever it is they’re hawking (books, political messages, etc…). He has based his book on the posts he has written on his own blog about how to blog and use social media, so much of the actual material seems to be available online if you search for it (here are chapters 2, 3, and 15, for example), although he has rewritten some paragraphs and added some new anecdotes to illustrate his points.
The book is organised into five broad sections which walk you through the major functional and relational steps related to blogging and the wise use of social media, and they explain the knowledge Michael has accumulated in building and promoting his own substantial platform over the past eight years. I think after reflecting on this for a few days that the book’s effectiveness and a consideration of whether or not it achieves its main aim depends on who is reading it.
If you have never come across Michael’s work before, or if you have just begun blogging and are thinking about building your own platform, you would save a lot of time and energy by buying a copy of Platform and its contents will probably produce a ‘wow’ sensation (section 1: “Start with the Wow”, chapter 2: “Bake in the Wow”, chapter 7: “How to Wrap the Wow in Style”) in your mind as you read along and think about the possibilities. I can think of a few friends who have just started blogging to whom I would certainly recommend this book.
If, on the other hand, you have been reading Michael’s blog for a while, if you have yourself been blogging for a few years (if not to Michael’s level of success), if you have read some of the better business books that have been published over the last few years, if you have read previous blogging and social media books by other authors (Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!”, Seth Godin’s “Tribes” or Chris Brogan’s “Trust Agents”), or if you have read and tried to learn from popular how-to blogs (Problogger or Copyblogger), I predict you will not feel such a ‘wow’ sensation as you read and that you will be left instead with the feeling that this is clearly a solid revision of what are becoming accepted success principles for blogging and social–media but that there is nothing particularly new here; that this book does not add new knowledge to the conversation or to theories about how to do it all better.
Before I read Platform, and given the Christian slant of both Thomas Nelson and most of the people who have participated in the pre-launch Facebook group, I wondered if there might be some interesting religious metaphors (followers, tribes, messages, etc) to be applied to the book’s ideas, or if the book might be directed towards a Christian audience. Platform purposefully does neither of these things: its ideas are applicable to anyone wishing to use them.
This general focus is perhaps also why I felt it was disappointing that the book didn’t include much specific information—apart from an appendix on “Post Ideas for Novelists (also a blog post)”—for authors who wish to use these ideas . Whilst this is by design, I think I expected more in this sense from the chairman of the US’s 6th largest publisher, who himself has built a hugely successful online platform.
To conclude, then, Michael Hyatt’s Platform is recommendable as a solid guide to blogging and social media principles and practice if you are a newcomer to these ideas but more experienced bloggers or aspiring authors won’t find anything especially new or specifically relevant in the book that hasn’t been said before somewhere.
3.5 stars out of 5