While reading Ryan Holiday's Fast Company story about books being the ultimate new business card, as a published author, I couldn't agree more. However, as Holiday points out, today's authors are in the "idea-making business, not the book business." In other words, writing your own book is just one checkmark on a long list of things to do to build your personal brand.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're a writer), self-publishing tools are making it easier than ever for anyone to become an author, which is not to say that publishing a book isn't impressive, it's just isn't as impressive as it used to be, say, 10 or 20 years ago. So, what's the solution? What is the ultimate new, new business card?
An app, of course.
"I haven't given up on books completely and am also pursuing the e-book model," Tapscott said when I emailed him about his latest venture. "However, it's clear that people, especially young people, are consuming content in profoundly new ways. An app provides me with a platform not just to present audio and video but to create a social experience for people interested in my work."
Tapscott's app (which will be available in October) will include his views on how the Internet and new media can help us reinvent our institutions for a new age, a common theme in all of his work. "It's a great platform to evolve my thinking on these issues and also to engage people in building communities for achieving change," says Tapscott. What's appealing about an app is the opportunity to put your personal brand front and center on your audiences' mobile devices. Sure, an e-book might be able to accomplish some of the same goals, but launching your own app is that much more exclusive, propelling you into a world of hundreds or thousands of well-known professionals with their own digital downloads versus hundreds of thousands well-known authors with their own books.
Many technological trends often tip into the mainstream world when celebrities start using them (think Twitter and Ashton Kutcher—the actor joined the service early in 2009). As the host of a television show about mobile innovation, I've interviewed well-known personalities, including American Idol's Adam Lambert, UFC's Georges St. Pierre, and TV's Suzanne Somers about apps they've built or endorsed to grow their personal brands. The latest celebrity to join the app-developer ranks is funnyman Ricky Gervais, announcing last week that he's the creative director behind Just Sayin', an app that makes it easy to share voice updates on social media sites.
While services such as Joe Mobi make it a cinch to turn your (WordPress) blog into a native iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry application, it costs a lot more time and money to develop an app that stands out in what is a crowded marketplace. While the words on the pages of an e-book might be enough for a reader, an app user expects much more in terms of an interactive experience (thanks, Angry Birds!). Another benefit of creating your own app is the potential to make money if you do things right. After all, app revenue is on the up and up and the numbers are staggering—Apple's App Store is expected to make $4.9 billion this year, an increase from $2.9 billion in 2011. Not sure the traditional publishing industry is feeling the same kind of financial love.
So, is the ultimate new business card a book or an app? Well, it's both, but the latter could be the golden ticket in your personal brand-building strategy in 2012 and beyond.
Have you seen any personal apps that you wish you'd done? Tell us about them in the comments.
[Image: Flickr user @superamit]