Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

How to profit from the social-media 'Storyteller Uprising'

Check out this free (for now) e-book on telling stories via social media--useful for anyone with a product, service or idea to sell.

Sree Sreenivasan
Sree, who teaches digital media at Columbia, is the university's first chief digital officer.
Sree Sreenivasan
4 min read

It's an increasingly social world out there on the Internet. How can you best take advantage of it?

After years of being a devoted reader of CNET News, I'm honored to join the wonderful team of bloggers here. My blog, SreeTips, is going to offer quick, useful advice on the changing digital landscape, with a focus on social media in all its permutations. My goal is to save you time, money and aggravation as you navigate the digital world.

In my workshops at Columbia Journalism School and around the country, I tell folks that social media is where the Web was in 1996. What I mean by that is that we're just getting started. There are a lot of terrific life- and world-changing tools and services yet to come (back in 1996, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and smartphones were among the things that didn't yet exist), but there are also a lot of things that are going to be a waste of our time (think Pets.com, SecondLife and ChatRoulette).

I'd love your feedback and am happy to answer your questions in the comments section or in other ways. You can email me here, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my Facebook updates.

The storyteller uprising
I recently got a note from my former student Hanson Hosein. A lawyer-turned-journalist, Hosein spent several years doing traditional journalism. This included a stint as a Middle East producer for NBC News, jetting around foreign capitals to try and make Americans care for at least a few minutes about the world outside their borders.

He's now head of the digital media program at the University of Washington, where he teaches old media values with new methods of storytelling, marketing and promotion.

"Storyteller Uprising" by Hanson Hosein

His 2004 documentary, "Independent America," in which he and his wife, Heather Hughes, traveled across the country looking at mom-n-pop stores and their battle to survive in a big-box-store world, was an early example of production and distribution models that have become part of the modern filmmaker's playbook. You can see the full doc, free, on Hulu.

His 2011 book, Storyteller Uprising: Trust & Persuasion in the Digital Age," is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the changing world around us, especially anyone who's got an idea, product or service to sell--which is anyone in any kind of business.

Having great content or a high-quality product isn't enough. You have to know how to use digital and social media to get it in front of people and then get them to share it with others.

Even the way Hosein reached out to me is part of a smart digital strategy. Amazon is offering a short window in which the Kindle version is available at no charge, and he's using old-fashioned email, in addition to Facebook, Twitter, etc, to reach people who can get the word out for him.

The book is available, free, until 11:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Kindle Store--and goes back to $8.99 after that.

It's a great deal at either price. I hope you'll grab it and share your comments below.

In case you need more persuading, here's how Hanson described his book to me:

The book is my "manifesto" for how individuals and organizations can use (and do use) stories to engage in trusted communications well beyond their immediate social circles. Yes, it's a somewhat provocative derivation of journalism (though with Columbia's new partnership with Stanford, it seems to be willfully mashing up "information" with "entertainment"). The book even opens with Joan Konner on the first day of our Class of '94's Orientation -- which was your first as J-School faculty!

"Storyteller Uprising" is required reading in my foundational MCDM class "Narratives and Networks in Digital Media" and I understand that it's also required for a class at USC Annenberg. I've successfully used it as a teaching tool for seminars I've given to the leadership of various organizations including Microsoft Europe, MasterCard, CVS Caremark, and the University of Washington. It will serve as the basis for a series of executive education seminars that I'll be starting this spring in Seattle.

Finally, believe it or not, you inspired the original premise to Storyteller Uprising years ago, when you suggested to me that I should write something about the "behind the scenes" of our film, "Independent America" (which folks can still watch for free on Hulu.com). My approach to the iterative creation and distribution of the book is very similar to how I approached the film seven years ago.

Folks can "="" here="" on="" amazon"="">download "Storyteller Uprising" here on Amazon (no catch, no cash) as of now. Amazon Prime members can "borrow" the e-book for free whenever they like.

UPDATE: Saturday, Feb 18, 2012: After the promotion was over, Hosein wrote a blog post about the experience, explaining why he gave away 1,500+ books and talks about my featuring him here on CNET. 

READERS: What do you think of the social media revolution? Post your thoughts in the comments below, please, or via @sree or #sreetips on Twitter.