(Book review) Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide

Social Media in the Public Sector Field GuideI just finished reading the “Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide” by Ines Mergel and Bill Greeves. Subtitle: “Designing and Implementing Strategies and Policies”. Sadly, the book has not lived up to my expectations and has left me a little puzzled.

The reason I was really interested in this book was because many NGOs and UN agencies face similar challenges to the public sector when it comes to communication: neither has a consumer product to sell and both are large bureaucracies that rely heavily on rules and regulations – including regarding who can say what to whom. So I was quite excited when I found this book and hoped to be able to learn a lot. However, while there is not a single thing in the book that is wrong, I also cannot recommend it.

The first thing that I can’t really figure out is, who the designated audience is supposed to be. The first two parts are so basic, that I doubt that anyone who is already using social media will find them very interesting. On the other hand, someone who needs this level of basic knowledge is probably not going to pick up a 200-page book.

Of course you can say “So what? If you don’t want to read that part, just skip it”, but this ambivalence who the book is written for, is a bigger issue. To me the book reads more like an academic paper about social media in the public sector, then a practical guide that could help you as you write your own policies and strategies.

While the book mentions the major challenges that big organizations face – for example: “who approves content?” – it barely gets beyond recommending that this is something you should really think about when writing a social media policy. That is disappointing. What I expected were many great examples showing how organizations/agencies have solves these issues.

While the book does contain examples and case studies, in my opinion these were not explored in enough detail so that for me the biggest value of many chapters were the footnotes – that way I  can follow up on some of these topics myself.

I’m afraid I make it sound like the book is horrible – it is not. It just lacks the substance that I would have expected.

In case you want to form your own opinion, you can download a free sample of the “Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide” for your Kindle or Kindle App.

Have you read any good books on social media lately? Please leave your recommendations in the comments below.