‘Likeable Business’ Offers Keys to Staying Alive in the Social Age

Author and CEO of Likeable, Dave Kerpen has entered once again into the foray of authorship with Likeable Business, detailing why consumers in the digital and social age demand more, and how business leaders can deliver in the expectations.

In the follow-up to his best selling book Likeable Social Media Kerpen offers 11 rules that businesses can and should follow in order to not only remain relevant but also to better help their customers while also becoming more and more likeable.

The eleven rules Kerpen establishes often read like a list of over-obvious steps to those who have grown up in the social stage, but Kerpen aims for a broad audience that includes everything from early twenty-somethings to silver-haired CEOs, and everything in between.

Via interview Kerpen adds, “The book is written for leaders at any organization, large or small. It is definitely not a social media book, but many people in social media positions at companies may be empowered to be change makers at their organizations, in which case it could be very valuable.

Kerpen clearly aims his message at change and decision makers, trying to extoll the (often obvious if mostly measurable on a scale atypical of traditional ROI) virtues of embracing social media, interfacing with customers and clients on a more personal level than older business values may embrace.

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From listening, transparency, authenticity and adaptability to team playing, passion, and offering surprise and delight, Kerpen details keys that are important to use both internally and externally. In terms of ROI, Kerpen says, “Happy, productive employees and happy, talkative customers are the two biggest forms of ROI from being likeable.”

What’s difficult about Likeable Business is that Kerpen’s message seems most easily applicable at the SMB or startup level. It’s difficult to envision large companies, regardless of any root or not in more antiquated business values, embracing these strategies on a broad level. But to that point Kerpen offers a few key responses; in the book he writes that important business changes often come not from complete refocusing, or wholesale changes but from smaller alterations to your path that Kerpen calls “pivots.” Kerpen offers several examples of pivots, such as Twitter,, and social game maker Zynga.
When asked about large companies that are often rooted in a more antiquated operational style, and tend to be able to pivot about as well as the Titanic without both comprehensive funding and cohesive dedication, Kerpen simply says, “They’ll go out of business eventually if they don’t change. The world moves too fast and is becoming too transparent for old-world companies who refuse to adapt to get by much longer.” He goes on to add, “The larger the company, the harder the challenges are to change, and to become more likeable. Change has to start with one person, and then spread to a small group of people, for it to begin to have impact.” While cynics and traditionalists may scoff, I tend to fall in line with Kerpen’s thinking.

But while the challenges are hard, Kerpen also notes that for old-world and new-school businesses alike, being Likeable isn’t as difficult as some might think. “The medium is important, but not essential,” Kerpen says when asked his thoughts on communications scholar Marshall Mcluhan’s famous adage, “the medium is the message.”

“Social media is great,” Kerpen says, “but even social media is not as essential as some make it out to be. Trader Joe’s, for instance, is a likeable business without using new media.”

There’s hope yet, for companies that refuse to embrace social!

Kerpen works hard to embrace his own rules and details many personal experiences with companies on both ends of the likeability scale. Every reader of any ad and social media involvement level will be able to identify with his experiences and likely be able to offer several of their own. This relatability offers an authenticity to the book that should help the majority of readers rise above the “yeah but….” line of thinking and get on board with the Likeable bandwagon.

Above all else Kerpen sings praise, and gives a great deal of evidence, for a strategy that is hard to directly link to dollars but is easy to link to happier employees and happier customers. Sometimes it’s important to do the right things simply because they’re the right things.

“When I wrote and talked about my first book, Likeable Social Media, I realized that the rules for using social media well – listening, being transparent, surprising and delighting customers – also apply to running any business in today’s world.” Kerpen says in response to my question about why he decided to codify these rules, “I want to be able to help as many businesses and organizations as possible become more Likeable.”

I think the mission on which he’s embarked is equal parts noble and difficult, and probably somewhat futile as many companies still refuse to see the value in total transparency, social media, and simultaneously embracing and learning from the bevy of negative feedback every organization is bound to receive from following Kerpen’s rules. But it’s a mission Likeable Business tackles well, and succeeds in its goal to provide valuable information, suggestions, and examples on how to start becoming more likeable today.

Note: the author of this article was provided with an advanced copy of this book free of charge from the publisher. All opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer and do not necessarily represent those of any organizations that publish this writing.

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