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I was recently asked to write the foreword for Social Media Geek-to-Geek by Rick & Kathy Schmidt Jamison. I was delighted to help and as always, I requested to publish the foreword here when the book was released. Now that the book is available on Amazon, I'm excited to share the foreword with you here.

When I'm asked to research and present success stories and best practices in social media, I often ask a bit more about what it is they're specifically seeking. After a bit of interaction, it usually comes down to two words, creative inspiration.

At the moment, social media represent something new, something we understand personally buy have yet to comprehend professionally. The unknown is just that, it's undefined. And as such, the paths for exploring new media are uncharted. Rather than find our own way based on the unique needs of our markets, we seek direction from those who have ventured forth on the roads most traveled. Eventually these expeditions require cartographers to map them, creating a series of charts to "what we know" versus "where we should be."

Social Media represent change. Change evokes fear and sometimes that fear can paralyze us. Yet, all we need is a better understanding of how we got here in order to plan for where we need to go.

As much as I would love to tell you otherwise, there is no social media playbook for guaranteed success. There is no template to consistently satisfy customers. There isn't a common recipe for delivering ROI. The only set of instructions that matter are those that you write based on the reality of your business, the needs of your customers, and the state of the market.

Everyday people, not businesses, embraced social networks. Champions and innovators introduced social media into the organization, from the outside in, because they believed in its ability to reach customers ... to reach real people. Through experimentation in day-to-day listening and engagement, social media gained momentum from the bottom-up until it reached a boiling point. The reality is that there is no IT department for social media. Most of the time, there isn't a Chief Social Officer residing in executive row to help execute against your vision. And, the leadership of the organization is not touting the vision for a more people-focused mission.

Social is either a playground for the young and restless or it's cost center. Either way, it's up to us to intimately understand how social media impact the bottom line and how we can steer experiences, conversations, and action in our direction, while delivering value. Without engagement, we can not compete for relevance. Without relevance, we can not compete.

This is your time to find the answers to your questions. This is your time to become the experts you once sought. This is your time to lead the way.

Reprinted from

Brian Solis is the author of Engage and is one of most provocative thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis's research and ideas have influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSolis, YouTube, or at