As someone who teaches Social Media Marketing, both online and in person, the proverbial question I get from my students and consulting clients is: Jason, this is all great, but how do we really make money with social media? There are some great real-world examples of course: Kogi BBQ (of Taco Truck fame, in LA) for instant, Woot and Dell Outlet (discount sites)… But there are many, many companies that Tweet with no purpose, or have Facebook pages that languish, not to mention blogs that no one reads or LinkedIn strategies that do little to create new sales relationships.
So I eagerly awaited the UPS truck from Amazon.com bringing me, How to Make Money with Social Media. My cost: $16.49.
When I opened it up, I quickly new I was in trouble. As an author myself, I always start a book at the beginning – knowing how much effort I put into acknowledgements, prefaces, and the logical order of explaining something as complex as Social Media Marketing (Google ‘Jason McDonald’ to find me and my free online writings, by the way). At any rate, the authors begin their book with testimonials from companies that have super high brand recognization (e.g., Ford) and then talk about why anyone would actually read the acknowledgements, while waiting for a friend in the restroom… We are doomed, I thought.
And yes we were. Most of the book is empty platitudes about marketing. AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action – for instance. Or platitudes about how we are living in the consumer era, you shouldn’t blog without being committed to it, or try to measure your social media marketing through landing pages and Google Analytics.
That’s all well and good, but what I was looking for was novel ideas on how to make money with social media. I knew of some great examples, such as Kogi BBQ (Google them to find them or check them out on Twitter), or retailers like REI that have amazing social media strategies… But I wanted some in-depth case studies or tips of the trade for small businesses.
These are not to be found in this book. A general introduction to marketing is better on the theory; books like the Dummies series are better on the specifics. And using your own head to critique the real strategies of other companies, even better. I always teach my own Social Media Marketing students – listen, launch, participate – first. Any number of strategies would do better than reading a book full of empty platitudes. Alas.
But authors Turner and Shah DID succeed in one thing: making money on Social Media. I ordered the book, and books are non-returnable on Amazon. So kudos to the authors on that count. Someone, at least, is indeed making money with social media marketing.
Myself? I continue teaching, looking, consulting, and and learning. I know of many great examples of how social media marketing is being used to move prospects to customers, customers to fans, and even fans to evangelists. I have some inklings on how to use social media marketing to make money. But it seems to be even better at relationships, conversations, and brands.
I myself use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and AdWords to get prospects; free events like webinars on the top ten free social media tools to start conversations; blogs to be visible, and Facebook / Twitter to stay connected. But social media per se hasn’t (yet) been a big money maker for me or my clients. Perhaps it really isn’t. Perhaps it’s a brand maker, or a relationship maker, and the entire question of this book is just wrong…
That, my dear reader, is another story that you can get in many instances for free. Google ‘social media classes,’ for instance and read what shows up on page one, the Google top ten.