By Jason McDonald
Senior SEO Instructor - JM Internet Group
Posted: October 1, 2011
No Bullshit Social Media, a Recommended Book (Four Stars)
No Bullshit? Really! No Bullshit Social Media at least has a catchy title. It certainly got my attention and hope that this would be one of the better books on Social Media Marketing. I teach Social Media Marketing in San Francisco and online (just Google ‘Jason McDonald’ or click on my profile to find me), and so I am always on the look out for new insights into the emerging world of SMM.
Bottom line: four stars
- I recommend the book as a good, fresh intro to Social Media Marketing.
- The book’s strength: a detailed, high level overview to WHY Social Media matters.
- The book’s weakness: lack of how-to-, step-by-step detail.
No Bullshit Social Media is 90% a conceptual book, and only 10% a practical how-to guide. The discussions of ROI / Metrics, review marketing, and how to organize your social media team in a larger company are all quite good. If you have an established product, more than ten employees, and are looking for a good airplane read on social media, this is a good book for you. If you are a start up, a single employee company, or are looking for a detailed practical manual on Social Media Marketing, you are better served by Social Media for Dummies.
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid of Social Media
Not surprisingly, given its brash title, the book’s tone is no nonsense. One major theme in the book is: Be afraid, be very afraid! Be afraid, first of all, that the Social Media Revolution is here, and be afraid that you – Mr. or Ms. Marketing – do not understand it. Your company will be doomed as will you – so you had better start paying attention! Do I agree with this statement? Absolutely. Do I agree with the tone: not at all.
Should you be afraid of Social Media? If you are a large company like Nestle or United Airlines, there is certainly reason to fear the viral attack campaign of your Facebook page, or the viral video “United Breaks Guitars.” For most businesses, however, the worst that happens is a) the unhappy customer review on Yelp or Google Places, or b) a complete lack of interest by your customers in your products.
Very few of us will experience a viral video assault like “United Breaks Guitars,” but many of us will experience the “b” option – difficulty getting our customers to truly be excited about our brand, our products, and our news. Fear is the wrong metaphor, in my view.
Attitude is everything I believe, so despite what No Bullshit says, I encourage you to be open minded about Social Media rather than fearful. Expect some direct insights from your customers, good or bad, but see this revolution for what it is: an amazing, fun marketing opportunity to get to know your customers regardless of the limits of time or space. Experiment. Be innovative. For many small businesses, Social Media will start and end with Google Places and Yelp. That’s OK. It all depends on what YOU make what works for YOUR BUSINESS.
My take, therefore, is 1) don’t be afraid you will be left behind, there is still plenty of time to get started in Social Media Marketing. But certainly take the plunge now and start educating yourself and your company, and 2) don’t worry too much about the high-visibility attacks such as those against Nestle or United Airlines. Unless you are a major brand, those viral social media messages are very rare indeed, and 3) look for focused opportunities rather than trying to do everything at once. Nigerian proverb: man who goes after two mice, catches none. So, focus, focus, focus on just the best social media opportunities, unique to your business.
Social Media Opportunities – Reviews and Review-based SMM
For many businesses the strongest Social Media Opportunity is in the review space. Fortunately this is the best part of the book – its discussion of reviews and eWOM (electronic word-of mouth). Nowadays, many customers may base their decision to engage with you on reviews posted about your company or products on sites such as ePinions.com, Amazon.com, Yelp.com, and other platforms. Small businesses like roofing companies or attorneys, in particular, are being reviewed heavily on Yelp and Google Places.
- Do reviews matter to your business?
- If so, what is your strategy to encourage them?
- If so, what is your strategy to monitor and respond to them – good, bad, and ugly?
With respect to reviews, the authors make the obvious but necessary point that people often do NOT believe advertising but they WILL believe the reviews of total strangers. Looking for a new Bar-be-que restaurant in Dallas? Turn to Yelp or Google Places, read reviews, go to restaurant. Ready to buy a new book on Amazon? Read the reviews, like the reviewer, buy the book. Review marketing is big, and getting bigger. Reviews matter. Do you lack a review strategy? Then be afraid, be very afraid.
Here, however, is where the book falls down. We are given no easy Web index of sites that have reviews, tools or tips to encourage reviews – so we know that reviews are important, but we aren’t really taught how to cultivate them, at either the conceptual or practical level. Like so many books in this sector, the book reads too much like a novel and not enough like a workbook. As someone who teaches Social Media Marketing, I know from my students that what they want are practical, step-by-step directions on issues like how to encourage reviews. In this regard, No Bullshit Social Media disappoints. It even lacks an appendix of great websites, or power tools for Social Media – items that in this Internet age should certainly be part of any book on the topic.
There’s theory and then there’s practice. A truly excellent Social Media Marketing book would have booth – a discussion of why reviews matter, and also a step-by-step guide to how to encourage reviews. No Bullshit Social Media is more theory than practice, but it’s still a good book. Buying it, reading it, and most of all – beginning to embrace Social Media – is a start. That’s no bullshit.