Six Reasons Why “Content Rules” Rules

Let me start this blog with some disclosures…confessions even. I read a lot. When my family asks me to join them to watch a TV movie, I usually have a book or my computer open, too. (I know there’s that whole multi-tasking controversy…consider me a case study.)

Because I serve on the faculty of a university, I sometimes review books before they are even books (this week, I reviewed a book proposal on creativity in advertising).  I am always looking to add to my students’ reading lists because traditional texts simply can’t keep up with the rapid pace of social media innovation. I’m also still writing my dissertation (social media and authenticity), so I sometimes plow through a book a night.

I share this with you so you’ll understand that it comes from experience when I say there are a lot of light-weight books out there on social media. Many re-hash well-known case studies or re-state ideas from the top thought leaders (they read the same blogs I do!).

It’s not easy for a trade book to make it to my students’ “must read” list…but Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman will, and it should be on your must-read list, too. Here’s why:

  1. It has focus, and that focus is helping you. Where other books spend their first three chapters on history of social media, Handley and Chapman spend a page and a half giving us the context and then immediately discuss “What is content and what can it do for you.”
  2. The authors embrace strategy  (see “Start with the Why” on p. 19) instead of focusing only on the shiny new tools.
  3. They have a sense of humor. For example, each case study lists “ideas to steal” and chapters have the lesson you can expect to learn embedded in the title, such as,  “If Webinars are Awesome Marketing Tools, Why do Most of Them Suck?”
  4. Chapters are short and cover one point, making it easy to pick up (say while waiting for your software to update), read one chapter and gain a valuable idea. A great format for busy people.
  5. It’s packed full with practical ideas and new case studies. In fact, one case study was right in my own backyard! I immediately contacted the profiled company,, and the CEO is willing to come out and talk with my students (practicing one of Hive’s core values: Be Generous!).
  6. They’re honest. Although the entire focus of their book is “Content Rules,” they admit, “Creating awesome content is critical–but it’s not enough.”

I agree. Content is not enough…but if you are creating it, making it work for you is critical, and Handley and Chapman offer on-target advice to help you do that.

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