Today, I am reviewing the New York Times Bestseller: WE FIRST: HOW BRANDS AND CONSUMERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD. What a title, huh!? Sounds like my kinda book! But, you may ask, what’s with the 3 out of 5 star rating? Well, I will tell you.
1) Half the book is not even about social media!
Basically the entire first half of the book, or more, hardly touches on social media. Maybe a brief whiff here or there, but the bulk is much more political and critical of the capitalist economic system. Now, I am all for reading people's opinions on just about anything, but this felt like a bit of a bait and switch. The title should give an accurate description of the content of the book. I do not feel that this title does that.
2) Hits readers over the head with word play.
I love puns. I love words and jokes or clever nuances of playing with words. But I don't love people forcing them into normal nomenclature. Here, author Simon Mainwaring has coined "WE FIRST" (as opposed to "me first") as a type of thinking. Great. A fresh concept and I love it. But he loves it so much that he can’t stop using it. "The WE FIRST mentality is...." "In WE FIRST businesses, they...." "A WE FIRST nation will only...." He even goes so far as to coin ANOTHER term -- "wedia". I'm not kidding. This is a form of MEDIA that has WE FIRST thinking. We-dia. Has anyone seen the movie MEAN GIRLS? If so, you'll know the quote, "Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen, it's not going to happen". I digress.
3) Saves the best to last.
The good part is that when the book does FINALLY talk more specifics about social media, IT IS GREAT! I had to wade through the entire book to finally uncover some real gems in the last few chapters. The writer loaded all his best thoughts, information, inspiration into the final chapters. My favorite was Mainwaring's exploration into the idea of social gaming inspiring new platforms for economic change and aid in third world countries. Originally, it sounds like a stretch to inspire the general public to go from building a farm on Farmville to one in a struggling nation. However, Mainwaring neatly puts the pieces together to make a clear picture of how this could be the future of "Social Gaming For Good", and he makes me want to be part of it!
All in all, three stars is not that bad. The book definitely is worth a read- but, if you are in it for just the social media goods, skip the first half and read the ending first – just like I do with a good mystery!