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Book Review: The Social Factor: Innovate, Ignite, and Win through Mass Collaboration and Social Networking by Maria Azua

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The Social Factor by Maria Azua isn't so much a "how to" guide to social media as it is a "why to" guide. While Ms. Azua covers many how to topics, they are more of the nature of best practices, than an in the trenches manual on how to deal with your FaceBook fans. The Social Factor is aimed at businesses wishing to leverage social media as an addition to their already established business practices.

The book starts off with a sweeping historical overview of the impact of social communications on business and society that stretches all the way back to the telegraph age. As one who firmly believes in knowing the history of a thing, I found this in-depth perspective both enlightening and instructive in furthering my understanding of the impact these technologies can have on our day to day lives. This approach also sets a firm foundation for the rest of the book as we journey through the social media landscape, learning the best ways to leverage these technologies.

As the author is the vice president of Cloud Computing Enablement for IBM Enterprise Initiatives, it is understandable that there are many references to the IBM experience with social media throughout the book. Despite this, all the references to IBM initiatives, experiments and technologies do not come across as a glorified sales pitch for the company, but rather serve as real world examples of what can happen when companies begin to truly leverage this new medium for the benefit of their customers.

The end result is a content rich, insightful look at what Web 2.0 is good for, and what it isn't. Perhaps more importantly, Ms. Azua gives a clear and concise look at each of these social platforms, each in their turn, leaving no doubt as to what a wiki or a blog or tagging is all about. She then follows this description with an overview on the best use of each, with real world (IBM) examples of the media in practice.

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About Marc Berry

  • Sory, folks, I forgot to add that The Social Factor is also available via the Safari Books Online on-demand digital library. The URL below is for a free trial offer. The Social Factor is one of the titles included in the offer. Just search for the title, and all should be good. Just be aware that the offer ends on November 24th, 09.

    Cheers, Marc

  • Margo Stys

    The Social Factor is an informative, insightful account of social networking tools and an excellent expression of how Social Age is transforming the business world. A new character of collaborative knowledge which has now emerged is fueled by innovation and has real potential to increase productivity and stimulate economic growth. Fascinating what changes lie ahead in the education system of the new millennium to support that growth and spur productivity. In the Social Age of collaboration and information overload, skills that really count have to do with quick access to knowledge and networking rather than simply encyclopedic knowledge per se. Supported by new social networking and social media technologies, those are the skills we should be teaching in schools today, alongside with creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.

  • Science Professor

    Azua’s, The Social Factor has proven a delightful interplay of the technological reality that faces us (civilians, business owners, etc.) on a day to day basis. Azua (2009) defines the social factor into three commonly driven forces in the social and professional workplace: the overload of information within technology, the standardization of the technology, and the availability of low-cost technological connections (wiki’s, blogs, facebook, etc.).
    As a teacher the overload of information is enormous, however the lack of instruction on how to implement such information is where our true duties lie. The information is all out there, so in essence an instructor is fruitless if incapable of disseminating comprehension to the boundless information found on the web. Azua integrates how to accomplish this by incorporating business strategies through the social network and “foster collaboration” along with “integrating an array of social networking tools” (Azua, 2009). Azua goes into great depth as how the adoption of technology is achieved through the standardization of the product. In the case of social networks, the standardization comes into play quickly and inadvertently causes an increase in demand for the product. Granted the product is provided in exabytes – a billion gigabytes, which as of right now is a small estimate of what is to come (Azua). It seems as if the social networking she discusses is an ever evolving organism, that has yet to adapt to the demands of the environment. As it appears, the true fruitfulness of the network is not so much the depth of it, rather the extent and vastness of its use. To communicate outside of the classroom would have been a far stretch to the imagination a few years ago, but now with the social age coming into blossom, we as educators can educate from anywhere, at anytime, in practically any way! Whether it is an underwater submersible video camera, or a trek through the Amazon providing live feedback for courses, it seems that the future will integrate more and more of the technological advances of social communication. As of right now thanks to the many social networking tools available to us I can educate my students within my classroom, and yet reach out to them with supporting materials via networks like Quia, Google Sites, etc. It is clearly defined through page after page of witty explanations that the social age is now, and not far from over, it is in its full fruit, and with absolute potential of being perhaps one of the strongest driving forces for the success of individuals, businesses, and even governments! The fact remains that the social age is not limited to individual use, rather it is to be integrated within the business realm as a form of collaboration tool that can harness at times some of the best of your employees. Many organizations, and even school systems are now integrating social networking sites into their repertoire as a means of enticing parents to become part of their child’s present and future educational aspects. If that is now, there is no true measurement to the possibilities that may arise from these collaborative efforts, in fact in all likelihood they will surmount in a newfound social reach out by the government to its civilians via these very instrumental networks. If you have not yet read Maria Azua’s book, The Social Factor, it is the must read book for any self-driven, aspiring and established professional; it will enhance your abilities, confidence, and above all transform you into a social agent for change in our globalized economy!


    Azua, M. (2009) The social factor: Innovate, ignite, and win through mass collaboration and social networking. Pearson Pic, Boston.

  • Roy Valance

    Although the landscape in social media technology has changed dramatically since The Social Factor was published in 2009, many of its lessons still hold true.

    In a world where 600 million people now have Facebook pages, and cloud computing companies are redefining the way information is shared in not only a business context, but in personal ones as well, this book is still chock full of great food for thought for anyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of the interplay between social media, business and our everyday lives.