The Social Media Marketing Book

My original review of The Social Media Marketing Book is on Slashdot

The fact that President Barack Obama has over 7 million Facebook fans, and First Lady Michelle Obama over 650,000 fans, are confirmation that social media has come of age. That is a far cry from former President Bush's comment in 2006 that he used the Google . While it is relatively easy for the President to get millions of followers, the challenge for businesses of all sizes is how to use social media to get fans and followers, and use them to drive business. 

Many spam messages recently have such enticing subjects as 'Make Money on Twitter' or 'Be a Facebook Money Machine'. While those are clearly scam emails, the truth is that social media is a tidal wave. The challenge for everyone, how to get in front of that wave. 

At about half the size of a regular book at 224 pages, The Social Media Marketing Book is lean to begin with. Given that about half of its pages are screen prints, one would think that such a book is a sparse approach to the topic. But the book is indeed a highly-tactical guide of significant value to any individual or organization looking to get into social media. 

Many are looking to get into social media for either themselves or their business, but are clueless on how to do that. For those, the book provides an easy to understand and implement guide to using the major social networks. This includes information on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn. 

The book does a good job of showing the difference between different social media sites, such as pure networking (LinkedIn, Facebook), media sharing (YouTube, Flickr), blogs, microblogging, and bookmarking (Reddit, Delicious, Digg) and more. 

While others would take three times the books length to make their point, Dan Zarrella is able to do that succinctly and to the point. His real-world experience in the social web is evident throughout the book. It is clear the author is one who is enmeshed in the topic in which he is writing. A lot of books show the promise of what social networks can do, but do not show how to get it done; this book does and shows what it can, and can't do. 

The books organization places an emphasis on practical use and readability. For the social media newbie, the first two chapters provide a superb synopsis of the history, protocols, and content strategies around social media. The introduction to social media provides the reader with an overview of the use, history, definition, and description of the various types of social media. Each chapter is full of actionable items that the reader can put to immediate use. The book is zero theory and complete actionability around social media. 

Zarrella has also done significant research on what makes for a successful social media presence. In chapter 3 on Twitter and microblogging, he writes of the importance of an effective Twitter bio. In the chapter, he also looks at the relationship the content of a user's bio has on the number of followers a user has. He also writes about the relationship between follower number and gender and family roles. For those looking to make the most of Twitter, his paper The Science of ReTweets is a great resource. 

Another benefit of The Science of ReTweets and this book is that Zarrella has not a single high-level suggestion that is impossible to put into practice. All of his advice is based on solutions that work. Zarrella's analytical marketing approach is based on science, statistics, experimentation and real data. Quite a novel concept in the world of marketing. 

Throughout the book, there is good advice and it tells you what works and does not work. The book is easy to read and it makes significant use of screenshots, which are meant to give the reader a specific visual explanation of the steps they need to take. 

In the section on Facebook, Zarrella makes an observation that is crucial to ones success for a business use of Facebook. He notes that for businesses, the best social media marketing is always going to be done by your fans, not by you. He notes that nearly every company engaged in social media marketing should have a Facebook page, as it can often serve as a central place for the integration of others parts of a campaign. 

In chapter 8, on the topic of forums, he reiterates the importance of fans, writing that a business should not underestimate the power of networks of niche forums to drive impressive numbers of visitors to your site. Once again, the best promotion comes not from the business, but from its fans. 

One of the mistakes far too many companies have made, and which the book strongly advises against, is the use of forum marketing services. These organizations promise a lot but rarely deliver results. They use myriad bogus accounts to create a false buzz on behalf of the business they are trying to promote. Such an approach only serves to wreck the reputation of the business due to the zero value they post from bogus accounts. 

While getting into the social web is important, chapter 10 is the books most important chapter, on the topic of strategy, tactics and practice. A mistake many make is in thinking a social web presence alone is enough, which is far from the truth. The chapter details all of the intricacies of strategy, tactics and practice to make it work. The chapter notes that strategy and tactics are inseparable, and that any successful social network presence will require both. 

In an interview, Zarrella observed that the biggest challenge in social media is learning how to incorporate social media into their daily work and life. With Twitter for instance, there are many good marketers who don't Tweet that much, or do for a little while and then stop. It's a marathon, not a sprint and the savvy businesses are going to have the best results when they can learn to integrate social media with what they are already doing. 

Overall, The Social Media Marketing Book is an extremely valuable resource on understanding and applying social media for both the individuals, and business. The book is a great introduction that can help you to get started. Once done, you can move onto the next level. Hopefully, Zarrella is working on that book now.

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