I recently had an opportunity to read a preview copy of Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook, by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo. It’s an interesting read that offers a lot of value for those starting in social media from square one. But despite the beginner’s focus, the book offers some great tips for even the most experienced marketers out there. Here are my highlights from the book.
A Great Anecdotal Beginning
The book starts with a look at a guy named Derek, a “nerd in the mid-1980s,” and his relationship with bulletin board systems. Derek’s story provides a great lead-in for the history of the Internet and how the social aspects of BBSs paved the way for our current social media networks.
Derek’s story helps explain — in a well thought-out and very clear way — the transition from a “read only” Web 1.0 to a community-driven, interactive Web 2.0 centered on involvement through writing, sharing, and communicating in a group dynamic.
Where (and How) to Get Started
Tackling the world of social media can be extremely overwhelming for the uninitiated, and sometimes for even the most practiced in the crowd. Friends with Benefits breaks it all down by asking some very pointed questions to help you figure out the best approach, then outlines the steps you will need to take in order to get started.
The book provides a great deal of guidance by encouraging the reader to figure out their motivation for getting involved in social media in the first place, an invaluable part of navigating social networks.
All About Blogging
Blogs are one of the most powerful elements of social media, and the book appropriately treats them as such with extensive coverage. Some of the topics discussed include:
- What you should (and shouldn’t) blog about
- Interacting with your readers
- How to handle challenging comments
- Ways to build your community
- How to reach out to fellow bloggers
- Creating a pitch to help you get found
An Overview of Other Aspects of Social Media
In terms of the elements of social media that are covered, Friends with Benefits is very well rounded. There are chapters dedicated to some of the most popular social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and even MySpace. While each of these chapters could certainly be expanded, the information provided is useful and current for anyone using these outlets as part of their social media campaigns.
The Do’s and Don’ts of the Social Web
One of my favorite chapters in the book provides priceless advice on the best ways to communicate with others online. This chapter alone has so many valuable tips about forming, sustaining and enhancing relationships with those you network with online.
The “lessons” it covers range from the importance of listening, to building a positive reputation, to the dangers of spamming, lying and misleading the people you are trying to influence.
Not All Warm and Fuzzy
While Friends with Benefits extensively outlines all of the benefits of getting involved with social media, the book certainly doesn’t only present the happily-ever-after ending. One chapter of the book talks about the risks of getting involved in social media marketing, such as being unsuccessful, being too successful too fast, and getting feedback you’re not quite ready for.
Then, the book takes it one step further to explore crisis management and how to handle the worst case scenario if it should happen in your social media marketing activities. The authors even provide a number of rules that can apply to any social media disaster to help you stay standing…and even turn it around to your advantage.
For More Information
Overall, this is a great book for individuals and especially businesses ready to get into the world of online social media marketing because it provides a great primer into this new and growing culture and community.
Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook is scheduled to be released in November. Visit No Starch Press to find out more about the book, download a free chapter, or pre-order your copy.