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A Social Strategy:
How We Profit from Social Media
Mikołaj Jan Piskorski

Winner of the 2015 Gold Medal in Networking, Axiom Business Book Awards

Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691153391
288 pp. | 6 x 9 | 2 halftones. 13 line illus. 9 tables.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400850020 |
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Social platform, lesson plans, and statistical analyses

Almost no one had heard of social media a decade ago, but today websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have more than 1 billion users and account for almost 25 percent of Internet use. Practically overnight, social media seems indispensable to our lives--from friendship and dating to news and business.

What makes social media so different from traditional media? Answering that question is the key to making social media work for any business, argues Mikołaj Piskorski, one of the world’s leading experts on the business of social media. In A Social Strategy, he provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express.

Drawing on his analysis of proprietary data from social media sites, Piskorski argues that the secret of successful ones is that they allow people to fulfill social needs that either can’t be met offline or can be met only at much greater cost. This insight provides the key to how companies can leverage social platforms to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Companies need to help people interact with each other before they will promote products to their friends or help companies in other ways. Done right, a company’s social media should benefit customers and the firm. Piskorski calls this "a social strategy," and he describes how companies such as Yelp and Zynga have done it.

Groundbreaking and important, A Social Strategy provides not only a story- and data-driven explanation for the explosion of social media but also an invaluable, concrete road map for any company that wants to tap the marketing potential of this remarkable phenomenon.

Mikołaj Jan ("Misiek") Piskorski is associate professor of business administration and the Richard Hodgson Fellow in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, among other publications, and he has written the Harvard Business School Cases on many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and MySpace.


"Piskorski's thought-provoking and well-researched title is ground-breaking and should be required reading for those in business, and business faculty and students."--Lucy Heckman, Library Journal (starred review)

"For companies that are struggling to measure social media, Piskorski offers a different way of looking at the problem, and his three tests--the social utility test, the social solution test and the business value test--provide a way to check if a project is working."--Maija Palmer, Financial Times

"Whoever thinks using social media successfully (i.e., making money from it) is easy needs to think again. So do people who think it's all one big fad or that creating a successful social media campaign is just blind luck. And that's where Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and his book A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media come in."--Catherine Ramsdell, PopMatters

"A highly informative and insightful analysis of web-based social platforms that should command the attention of sociologists, psychologists and lay readers as well as bottom-line businessmen and women."--Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

"Thanks to Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and his new book, companies now have a clear strategic framework for figuring out how to tap into their power."--Theodore Kinney, Strategy + Business

"The author's research offers new insights into the reasons for the explosion of social media."--Choice


"Piskorski accessed Silicon Valley's storied social media firms and has returned with the keys to the kingdom for understanding what makes 'social web strategies' the real killer app behind social media. Anyone who wants to enhance the user experience must read this book."--Brian Uzzi, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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Table of Contents:

Preface vii
1. The Arc of the Book 1
2. Social Failures and Social Solutions 9
3. "Meet" Solutions: eHarmony and OkCupid 25
4. "Meet" Solution: Twitter 49
5. "Friend" Solutions: Facebook and mixi 68
6. "Meet" and "Friend" Solutions: LinkedIn and Friendster 90
7. "Meet" and "Friend" Solution: MySpace 120
8. Social Strategies 137
9. Social Strategy at Zynga 151
10. Social Strategy at Yelp 170
11. Social Strategy at American Express 184
12. Social Strategy at Nike 205
13. Building Social Strategy at XCard and Harvard Business Review 220
14. Conclusions 249
Acknowledgments 257
Notes 259
References 263
Index 267

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