New to the social media world? Want to understand why Twitter, Facebook et al. is good for business? Want to fine tune what you are already doing online and enhance your marketing? Then, Friends With Benefits is for you. I have to admit this is a book for more of the beginner crowd. That being said, it is extremely well written, and at a level that almost anyone can understand (as long as you already know how to get online).
Friends With Benefits isn’t a book just on Twitter and Facebook (however big they are, there is more to social media than just those two companies). This book covers everything from RSS (what it is, why you care, etc), corporate blogging, and social media new releases. It even goes into how to approach bloggers.
This is where my first criticism comes in. You can’t paint bloggers with one stroke. The theme over and over in this book is that bloggers shouldn’t be paid for their work. And yes, it is work. The time I spend reviewing your product is time away from my family and other things I could be doing. As someone who sometimes does get paid for reviewing prodcuts, I take offense to a book telling people not to pay bloggers. Something else they left out is that if you send a blogger a product to review, don’t expect them to send it back. Most bloggers have a policy on their site explaining how they do reviews. Take care to read it, so you both know what to expect. A personal request of my own is that if you send me a product make sure you put some marketing materials in with the product. Sometimes bloggers get so many products that we often don’t know who they came from. Make it easy for the blogger to contact you back with a review or questions.
The section on spammers is great. I think marketers often forget that they are talking to real people and we don’t appreciate being addressed as “Dear Webmaster”. The list they provide definitely makes you do a double take on your own behavior. There is also a chapter about defining success and return on investment (ROI) which are the holy grails of social media marketing. They ask the question of how you define success. If you don’t know your end goal, how do you know if your campaign was successful? Are you interested in brand-building? Growing traffic? Conversion to sales? Social media mentions? Increased buzz? How are you going to do this? Monitoring? Listening? I love how they go into how to respond when you find bloggers talking about you or your product. However, I wish they would have went one step further with it. When working with clients, if I find a blog post about them that we like, I often send it to social media sites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. Not only does it give the blogger more visitors, it gets more eyeballs on my clients product.
If you are looking to dabble in social media, Friends with Benefits is a must read for you. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time on the social media field.