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Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager

Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager

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by Ed Brill

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Winning social business techniques for product managers, marketers, and business leaders!


• How product managers at IBM are using social business to transform markets and build vibrant global communities

• New best practices for promoting engagement, transparency, and agility

• A deeply personal case study:


Winning social business techniques for product managers, marketers, and business leaders!


• How product managers at IBM are using social business to transform markets and build vibrant global communities

• New best practices for promoting engagement, transparency, and agility

• A deeply personal case study: handbook, roadmap, autobiography, and inspiration


Does “social business” work? IBM has proven unequivocally: it does. In Opting In, IBM executive Ed Brill candidly shares best practices, challenges, and results from his social business journey, and shows how his team used it to transform existing products into thriving business lines.


This deeply personal extended case study offers you a detailed roadmap for achieving and profiting from deep customer engagement. Brill shares his 15+ years of product management experience at IBM and describes how these techniques and experiences have developed a vibrant marketplace of social business customers worldwide.


You’ll learn how to use social business tools to strengthen customer intimacy, extend global reach, accelerate product lifecycles, and improve organizational effectiveness. You’ll also discover how social business can help you enhance your personal brand—so you can build your career as you improve your business performance.


With a Foreword by Marcia Conner, Author and Principal Analyst at SensifyWork.


Using today’s social business tools and approaches, product and brand managers can bring new products and services to market faster, identify new opportunities for innovation, and anticipate changing market conditions before competitors do. In Opting In, IBM’s Ed Brill demonstrates how product managers can fully embrace social business and leverage the powerful opportunities it offers.


Brill explains why social business is not a fad, not “just people wasting time on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” and not just for marketers. He shows how to drive real value from crowdsourcing, interactivity, and immediacy, and from relational links across your organization’s full set of content and networks.


Drawing on his extensive experience at IBM, Brill explores powerful new ways to apply social business throughout product, service, and brand management. Using actual IBM examples, he offers candid advice for optimizing products by infusing them with the three core characteristics of social business: engagement, transparency, and agility.


Drive breakthrough product, service, and brand performance through:


Engagement: Optimize productivity and efficiency by deeply connecting customers, employees, suppliers, partners, influencers…maybe even competitors

Transparency: Demolish boundaries to information, experts, and assets—thereby improving alignment, knowledge, and confidence

Agility: Use information and insight to anticipate/address evolving opportunities, make faster decisions, and become more responsive

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A must-read for anyone in business today. Ed does an incredible job at articulating the cultural shift driving social business today and the need for companies to embrace social business practices in order to thrive in today’s changing digital world.”

—Jonathan Levitt

Chief Marketing Officer, OpinionLab

“Ed gives us a highly actionable, from-the-trenches view of social business, how it works, and why it will reshape how we do business.”

—Dion Hinchcliffe

Chief Strategy Officer, Dachis Group

Columnist for ZDNet and InformationWeek

“I have been teaching Internet Marketing classes at DePaul University since 2006, and the IBM Social Computing Guidelines have been indispensable in providing direction to students looking to meaningfully engage in business social media. To this excellent resource I now add another, Ed Brill’s Opting In. The book is an honest and open combination of history and insight, in which Ed shares how he and IBM have used social media to make a technology giant more approachable and relevant to the lives of its customers and prospects. No small feat. The publishing industry abounds with social media guides at present. Opting In distinguishes itself from the completion by sharing real-world examples of what has worked (and what has not), with a clear explanation of the critical factors and lessons learned. Perhaps the new IBM meme will be ‘Nobody ever got fired for ‘Opting In’.’”

—James Moore

Director of Online Learning, DePaul University, Driehaus College of Business

“Many organizations are struggling to find ways to connect more effectively with their customers, partners, and their own employees. As an early adopter of social business solutions, IBM’s Ed Brill has been excelling at this for more than a decade. In Opting In, he shares his experiences and insights on how to engage with communities and use their feedback to help guide critical business decisions. Anyone looking to learn how to leverage community feedback should put this on their reading list.”

—Alan Lepofsky

Vice President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

“Social business is an organizational imperative. In Opting In, Ed Brill demonstrates how IBM transformed our culture and tools to connect people with people and insert social into business process. This book represents the best practices and lessons learned in an extremely effective, personal narrative. Must reading for any product or brand manager.”

—Jeff Schick

Vice President, Social Software, IBM

“Ed has been involved with social software since its very early days, driving his personal, product, and corporate brand forward as the social landscape began to take shape. This book gives an insider’s view of the evolution of the social business from a personal perspective and how brands needed to adapt to the changing way of communicating. He shows how the use of social media has enabled the growth of transparency in business and gives practical advice for aspiring social product managers. It is an excellent resource for any business wishing to activate its advocates and grow its agile social business.”

—Eileen Brown

Contributor, Social Business column at ZDNet and author of Working the Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business

“Clearheaded, actionable, and hype-free. As an IBM product manager who has successfully navigated the social business waters for himself, Ed demonstrates a remarkable ability to marry data and experience into a framework others can use to build, lead, and actualize social product strategies. This book is a must-read for any product manager with questions about navigating social business!”

—Jason Seiden

CEO, Ajax Workforce Marketing

“‘Opting in’ to become a more social business is imperative whether your business is large or small. This book gives you the roadmap you need to get there.”

—Laurie McCabe

Partner, SMB Group

“Ed Brill’s Opting In is an important book that takes social business beyond external marketing to provide practical guidance on how to drive significant business value through enhancing human interactions within the enterprise.”

—Bill Ives

Partner, Merced Group

“Product management is a relationship business. It is about resonating with the user. Opting In shows you why and how social tools can accelerate relationships so you can sing to your consumer and make an extraordinary difference to the world.”

—Kantha Shelke Ph.D.

Principal, Corvus Blue and developer who helped create and launch more than 100 food products that are still on the retail shelf today

Product Details

Pearson Education
Publication date:
IBM Press
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Ed Brill is Director, Product Management–IBM Social Business solutions.


Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including IBM Notes/Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.


In 18 years at IBM, Brill has led a variety of sales, marketing, and product-related organizations. As Director for Social Business, Brill has succeeded in elevating IBM’s expertise and reputation in brand and product management. He has constantly innovated in both marketplace strategy and product execution.


Previously, during Brill’s role as Business Unit Executive–Worldwide Sales, his suite of products posted year-to-year quarterly growth for four years and gained thousands of new customers. Earlier in his IBM career, Brill led competitive strategy and held several product management and strategic marketing roles. Brill’s technical background includes development of infrastructure deployments through project management and IT architect roles. Committed to understanding the global marketplace, Brill has visited IBM customers in more than 40 countries, and is a frequent speaker at IBM and industry events worldwide. Brill has served on the advisory boards for Web 2.0 Expo and IDG Mobile Enterprise Next.


Outside of IBM, Brill is an active Chicago community member. As a 25-year resident of Highland Park, Illinois, Brill authors “Highlands and Ravines,” a regular opinion column on community news website Patch.com, and previously wrote for the Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal.


Brill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Indiana University, with a minor in political science.


Use the following to connect with the author online:

  •   Blog: www.edbrill.com, named a Best Blog for Buyers by Network World
  •   Twitter: http://twitter.com/edbrill
  •   Facebook: http://facebook.com/edbrilldotcom
  •   LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/edbrill Opting


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Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To the person who wrote "who cares" - they obviously didn't read the book. Or are in a position where they are looking to leverage social to create dialogs with their customers. This is a great book that really is primer for anyone in corporate to build honest relationships with the social tools available today. There five star reviews for this across the web - so sorry to see "Anonymous" had nothing to offer with the one star review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who cares ?