Author: Dan Zarrella
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Newcomers to social media
Pros: Good introduction for new users of social media
Cons: Not enough detailed help for beginners
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
This is good introduction for someone who is coming fresh and new to social media but if you are an existing user you'll find that it already feels dated. Although only published in the second half of 2009 parts of it rely on information about user numbers are so on from 2008 - and that feels like history given the pace of change in this most active arena.
What I most liked about this short book was that Dan Zarrella doesn't continuously hype the idea of social media marketing - which is characteristic of some other books on the topic which tend to be evangelical. To a large extent this low-key approach is based in confidence that readers already recognize the importance of social media channels so that he doesn't need to preach to the converted. On the other hand he doesn't give a complete newbie enough practical information to help them get started with Facebook or any of the other social media services they might be inspired to use - for that another book might well be required.
The first chapter briefly explains social media and lists the selected types that are discussed in the following eight chapters - blogs; microblogs (specifically Twitter); social networks (with space devoted to Facebook and LinkedIn with a briefer mention of MySpace); media sharing sites (You Tube, Flickr and SideShare); social news and bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious and some niche sites; ratings and reviews sites (specifically Yelp); forums and Virtual worlds. Of this content the one that I found novel was the last one which dealt exclusively with Second World - and Zarrella does make a case for how this could be used to build brand awareness.
The eight chapters devoted to the various types of social media share a common structure - opening with a brief introduction, a history and a section on protocol that defines key jargon and gives an overview of how the genre works. Each chapter closes with Takeaway Tips which summarises the advice given in it.
Dan Zarrella's advice generally had me nodding my head in agreement. With reference to blogs he sounds a word of caution with "anyone can stir the pot and inflame tempers. If you don't have a good argument, chances are you'll catch serious backlash". There is also repeated advice to listen and engage with people. With ` regard to social news sites the chapter opens by noting that direct marketing is typically frowned on and concludes that its important to consider the culture of each site and target content appropriately. The chapter on ratings and reviews has a sub-heading for Sock Puppets pointing out that this practice is "very bad form" and it also has advice for responding to negative reviews "remain calm and try to resolve the issue". While the chapter advice is relevant to any local reviews sites the only example discussed in the US-specific yelp.com.
The penultimate chapter, Strategy, Tactics,and Practice has practical advice for those who want to start to use social media in marketing - and its initial advice is a rewording of the old adage - lurk before you leap. It goes on to explain how to monitor social media to discover what is being said about you company and the need for research. It does then proffer some advice for marketing strategy and campaigns.
The final chapter is on measurement and looks at metrics you can use to gauge the results of your social media efforts. As well as Google Analytics it mentions one of the author's favourite analytics packages, Clicky, and the analytics offered by HubSpot (the company Dan Zarrella works for) for marketing professionals. Among the sound advice in this chapter is to set achievable goals and know how to measure progress against them.