A good case of Wiksmanship

This week’s social media commentary will focus on the fine art of using the stream to aggregate and distribute collective wisdom. Raj Setty (@upbeatnow) is a pioneer in this area, as well as one of the top bloggers around. 

Earlier this year, he conducted a very thoughtful experiment.  Using social media (Twitter, Facebook, his blog), he asked thought leaders and big-mouths to contribute advice for a free eBook.  The topic was timely: Practical tips for thriving during rough times.  

He collected fifty souls together, gleaned some wisdom from them, then applied stellar design acumen to produce an eye-popping and thought provoking eBook.  Download it today.  If you are a Kindle user, you can either email the PDF to your Kindle account for .10 and read it on there OR if you have the new DX model, you can transfer the PDF via your USB.  

This is a novel way to provision social media.  What Raj demonstrates is Wiksmanship, using a Wiki type crowd sourcing model to produce and distribute relevant content.  Just like a Wiki, a community created the document, except Raj is the centralized editor and it is a static finished document.  

Wiskmanship relies on: Topic selection, author aggregation, editing and design.  All four stages need to be done right to avoid a train wreck or another useless PDF that a Twitter user might call his/her “free eBook.” 

Another example of this is found over at Change This.  In this case, you author a manifesto and let the crowd vote on whether it’s worthy of being featured.  Many great ideas, and books such as Trust Agents, have sprung from this social media incubator. 

All of this begs the question: Why do we think of social media as a place for personal or professional marketing?  That’s the tip of the value iceberg.  Raj’s experiment demonstrates that crowdsourcing is very easy with social media, and can bring together incredible value in a short period of time.  This must be pretty baffling to publishers that have one to two year release windows, layers of process to swim through and an overly centralized pool of talent … where you are only as good as your last book. 

How will you leverage your social stream to add or multiply value?  It’s not just a way to sling URLs, build up a following and get traffic to your site — it’s a resource that you can use to change the world.