Archive for November, 2009

Review: Sysomos Social Media Monitoring Tool

I’ve explored many social media monitoring tools over the last few years. This week I added to the list when I received a demo of Sysomos – a Toronto-based company launched in 2007. Along with Radian6 and the Alterian-acquired Techrigy, Sysomos is one of the well-known players in the monitoring landscape right now.

Sysomos’ offerings are split into two products (see a detailed breakdown on the Sysomos website):

  • Maps – Sysomos’ core tool – offering unlimited search queries and analysis on its database of conversations.
  • Heartbeat – Sysomos’ enterprise-level tool, incorporating search, analysis and workflow management around specific topics.

I’ve structured this review to around the major features I look for in a monitoring tool:

  • Search
  • Analysis features
  • Workflow
  • Price

Search

Historical search

Both Sysomos tools query the same database of conversations, which stretches back to 2006. All users can run queries on this entire database (historical data in the Heartbeat tool comes with an additional cost), which solves a problem I’ve frequently encountered in the past – being able to look back in time to run baseline and historical searches for new clients.

Boolean

Sysomos also allows the creation of boolean searches – a feature I welcome as it allows the creation of complex queries very easily.

Social networks

To my surprise, Sysomos didn’t seem to search the full breadth of social networks we’ve come to expect. When we asked about searching MySpace, for example, we were told that we could find MySpace if we searched for “specific users.”

With that said, Sysomos does include public Facebook pages and groups in its search results. Other tools (Techrigy, for example) do this too, but it’s a useful feature that’s becoming more important as Facebook continues to dominate other social networks (in North America, at least).

Organization

One area in which Sysomos does fall slightly short of its competitors is in the organization of queries. Whereas Radian6 allows hierarchies of queries, so you can separate searches for your competitors from those for your brand, for example.

Analysis features

Interface

The interface on Sysomos products was one of the big eye-openers for me. Long frustrated with interfaces that limit your options, I was pleased to see a very user-friendly dashboard which allows easy on-the-fly customization. Need to narrow your search duration? Just click and drag over a time period on a chart and it adjusts.

Sentiment

Sysomos comes with automated sentiment analysis. I’m a long-time cynic when it comes to this kind of feature. Companies seem to view it as almost a must-have nowadays but I’m not sure why when no-one is able to produce an accurate tool. Sysomos claims its sentiment analysis is 80 per cent accurate, but I’m afraid a 20% error margin is not good enough for me.

With that said, you can manually edit the sentiment assigned to results, and even a mere 80 per cent accuracy does mean less work for the person analyzing the data, so while I don’t consider the sentiment analysis a differentiator, it’s still handy.

Filtering

The filtering system in Sysomos is very simple and flexible. You can layer new filters on top of your search at any time, and it’s easy to add those filters onto your main search permanently if you want to.

Segmentation

While the deep mining doesn’t seem to be quite as powerful as in some other tools, the breadth of options is wider – allowing deeper analysis on geography and a limited demographic breakdown (based on user-disclosed information).

Text analysis

While word clouds are run-of-the-mill nowadays, Sysomos goes one step further through what it calls its “BuzzGraph”, which shows the associations between common words in a search. I found the context provided by BuzzGraph to be a welcome addition to the rudimentary text analysis provided by most services.

Workflow

Maps, as a search/analysis focused offering, doesn’t include a workflow system. Heartbeat, however, does. It incorporates the standard features we’ve come to expect, including task assignments. However, from the brief look I got, it doesn’t seem to go as far as Radian6′s workflow tool, which incorporates deeper categorization of posts, tagging and real-time email alerts.

Price

Sysomos doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s roughly comparable with its competitors.

The Heartbeat tool starts at $500 per month, plus a $500 setup fee. For that you get a limited number of searches and access by up to five people. For double that fee, you can double the number of queries  and get access by an unlimited number of people.

The Maps tool, meanwhile, comes at a flat rate of $2,500 per month. That allows unlimited searches on all data going back to 2006, and unlimited access, making it a potentially cost-effective tool for agencies servicing multiple clients.

Conclusion

I was very impressed with Sysomos. In particular:

  • The flexibility of the user interface is a big plus;
  • Filtering and segmentation tools combine to be a powerful analysis tool;
  • Different products for both corporate and agency needs.

If this has piqued your interest, check out the Sysomos website or their blog, and check out the video earlier in the post for an overview.

Reach Matters – Even In Social Media

“It doesn’t matter how many people you reach; it’s who you reach that matters.”

We hear this kind of statement thrown about all the time in social media circles. The idea is that you don’t need to have a massive following to have influencer or get results. Following closely behind we usually hear something like “if you have three readers and they’re Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Donald Trump, you don’t need anyone else.”

Who are we kidding?

I’m in contrarian mode here, and I’m calling BS. While that kind of reasoning manages to be true to some extent, in practice, in most cases it’s completely false.

True, because it’s theoretically possible that you could have a tiny niche that keeps you in business and powers growth.

False, because in the vast majority of cases that’s just not going to happen (note: I’m talking proactive public relations here, not stakeholder or government relations). Most of us aren’t selling multi-million dollar solutions to a small group of buyers. The theory is sound, but in reality it usually doesn’t work that way.

Trust matters; so do numbers

It’s a harsh truth. It’s comforting to pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that we’re influential. Think about it, though – would TechCrunch be influential without its audience? Would Brogan? Of course, their success didn’t come overnight and they didn’t always have those audiences.  It’s not easy to admit but for most communicators, reach (or audience size) does matter.

  1. In order to get the attention of influencers, you often need a critical mass behind you;
  2. Separate and in parallel to that, the law of averages implies that, over time, the more people you reach the more influential people you will reach.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at your average web traffic then compare it to the last time you got a big mainstream media hit. It’s why I, despite being a social media convert, still argue strongly that mainstream media matters.

The flip side

There is truth to the idea that connecting with influential people can get results.

Right now, I’m in the middle of reading Trust Agents, which revolves around trust and influence. I certainly agree that a person with a highly engaged group of followers on Twitter, for example, will get much better interactions and results than someone who has gamed the system to build a large following.

Still, even within the book the authors admit that Chris Brogan’s reach means that his voice can achieve greater results than those without such an audience. There’s also a bit of a chicken/egg situation – do numbers lead to influence or vice versa?

YMMV

Of course, a well-crafted communications strategy considers the unique goals of an organization/person before deciding on the approach, meaning  a one-size-fits-all answer to this kind of issue doesn’t really apply. However, most of the conversations to which I’m referring here are based around simple audience metrics – blog readers; Twitter followers.

The rose-tinted glasses situation: a focused, targeted audience of highly engaged and influential people could potentially drive results.

The reality: reach matters.

The ideal solution is probably a trade-off between niche and mass.

What do you think?

Social Gaming Hitting A New Level

Xbox LiveLast week, Microsoft rolled out a new update to its Xbox 360 dashboard. Among other changes, the update added Twitter and Facebook functionality to “Gold” users of its service. CNET tells us that “millions” are already using these new services.

The new add-ons allow users to do the usual things that you would expect to do with Twitter and Facebook – browse profiles, tweet, etc, but they also do one very important and very powerful thing, too:

They allow you to see which of your friends on these services are using Xbox Live.

Why is this a big deal? Because, if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of logging on to spend a few minutes playing your favourite game online and being confronted with a bunch of kids yelling vile insults at you. Thanks to those types, I rarely (read: never) play online with people I don’t know.

The problem with that philosophy, though, is that it can be hard to find which of your friends uses the Xbox Live service, leaving the online experience feeling somewhat empty. With these new features, you can scan your Twitter follower and Facebook friends lists to find your fellow gamers, and quickly and easily connect to them.

It’s another step in the merging of social media and social networking into the things we already do online.

  • Mass media websites have incorporated social media tools such as RSS and commenting for a while;
  • Movie producers have used social media features during movie and DVD launches (Fight Club is a great example);
  • Now, social media is further encroaching on one of the largest entertainment industries around – computer gaming.

My bet: in a couple of years, this kind of feature will be so ingrained that people won’t think of it as a “social media” feature – it’ll just be a given when they turn on their console.

What do you think?

Conflicted About Ad.ly

Ad.lyBrowsing through my Google Reader feed this evening, a story in the New York Times caught my eye. The story was about ad.ly – a relatively new service that pays Twitter users to insert advertisements into their Twitter stream.

In the piece, Brad Stone gives a reasonable outline of the service, which counts “celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Dr. Drew and the musician Ernie Halter” among its customers. It also includes a quote from Robert Scoble:

““It interferes with your relationship with your friends and your audience,” said Robert Scoble, a technology blogger with more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, who says he “unfollows” people on Twitter who send him ads.”

Checking the site, ad.ly also counts Darren Rowse, Jason Calacanis, Jeremiah OwyangBrian Solis and Gnomedex founder Chris Pirillo among its users.

I’ve made my feelings about advertising services on Twitter known in the past. Notably, I got a little upset when some advertisers started posting misleading ads through a service called Magpie back in April this year.

However, I feel a little conflicted about this story.

Pros

Money on the side

Ad.ly lets Twitter users generate additional income with little effort.

Control the ads

Users have full control over the messages that are posted – they approve every message posted through their account.

Disclosure

Every message, according to the site, is disclosed as an ad:

“The end of every Ad.ly tweet (except tweets for charity) is marked with “(Ad)” notifying your audience that this is an advertisement. In order to ensure authenticity, every Ad.ly Tweet has to be explicitly approved by the Twitter publisher and is disclosed as an ad.”

Cons

Hijacking your connections

People don’t follow you to hear about the services that pay you to broadcast their messages. They follow to hear about the things YOU like. Still, I don’t watch TV to check the ads out there, but I do watch them. That said, I don’t like it.

While I don’t recoil to the same extent as others (Shannon Boudjema outlines her concerns succinctly here), I still feel uneasy about the concept.

Social media becoming unsocial

Ad.ly inserts ads into your Twitter stream. It’s traditional media piggy-backing on social media. There’s a disconnect between the “push” mechanism in use and the two-way nature of the medium.

Gut

Logic aside, something just doesn’t feel right for me. I have nothing to back this up – perhaps it’s because I don’t consider monetizing my Twitter followers often, but it sits wrong with me.

Bottom line

In case you can’t tell, I’m finding this one tough. Most of the solid logic points to the idea being reasonable, especially given that the Tweets are both approved by users and disclosed as ads. Still, I can’t bring myself to consider using it.

The logic is there, but… there’s a but. but it doesn’t feel right for me. I can’t put my finger on this one.

What do you think?

Welcoming A New Colleague

I’m pleased thrilled to welcome Andrea Pietkiewicz to the Thornley Fallis team.

Andrea joins our social media team this week, bringing with her over 12 years of agency experience with companies such as BBDO and Cossette.

I’m a firm believer that the lines between the communications disciplines are blurring. Public relations agencies no longer compete against each other, and they no longer only need to execute pure PR campaigns – they go up against other types of agencies and are required to plan and sometimes execute cross-functional strategies.

While Andrea shares our vision of social media as a means for long-term engagement, her experience not only adds strength to our social media  but also further expands our ability to perform in this evolving environment.

Oh, and Andrea is also a “Master Scuba Diver Trainer” which I believe gets you a jedi robe and a light saber…

Andrea blogs at beyondthebuzz.wordpress.com and you can find her on Twitter at @scubagirl15.

Welcome, Andrea!

15 Ways PR Agencies Can Help Companies With Social Media

"Help wanted" signAs social media has grown in acceptance within companies over the past few years, one debate never seems to go away – whether agencies should be involved in social media communications, or whether the only way to maintain an “authentic voice” is for companies to undertake it all themselves.

Agencies can help

Not surprisingly (given that I work for a PR agency), I sit in the camp that says that agencies have a significant role to play for many companies. For sure, companies can do some or all of these things themselves, but there’s no reason agencies can’t help without compromising the company’s efforts.

Here are 15 different activities an agency can undertake – legitimately and effectively – to help companies engage in social media.

Getting started

1. Baseline audits

One of the first steps in any communications initiative should be an online audit to both understand the current environment and to set a baseline for measuring results of future activities.

2. Audience research

Alongside an initial audit, learning to understand your target audiences is a foundational piece of a communications strategy, be it online or offline.

3. Corporate policies

Whether your company is engaged in social media or not, it is important to set boundaries around social media. If you are engaging in proactive outreach online, it becomes a somewhat  more involved process covering more areas (for a quick start, check out this ebook on corporate social media policies)

4. Workflow processes

What happens when you spot an issue? When someone asks a question? When someone discusses your company with other people? When someone criticizes you? Who is involved in the response? What will you (and won’t you) respond to?

These are the kinds of questions you need to consider before the occasion arises, and which experienced agencies have encountered often enough to help you answer.

5. Social media training

While it doesn’t take much expertise to send a tweet, the norms of communicating in social media channels can require education and explanation. Social media can require a bit of a departure from the way companies have traditionally communicated. It doesn’t mean anarchy, but traditional “messaging” approaches don’t fly so well in these informal channels. Agencies can help to transfer the necessary knowledge around this to clients new to the social media realm.

6. Social media scoping

You don’t need to be everywhere online. Twitter and Facebook might not be the right places – perhaps your audience is primarily hangs out on forums or message boards. An agency can help to scope-out the right places for your company to establish a presence online.

Strategic planning

7. Strategic development

Agencies can bring together a wide variety of communications experiences and expertise that make them well placed to assist with or lead the strategic development process for social media for their clients.

8. Campaign ideas

Right now my perspective of the ideal approach to social media is a foundational long-term strategypaired with well thought-out campaigns that provide spikes in attention and engagement. As above, agencies can bring together creative minds to design those campaigns.

9. Campaign extension

Unfortunately, PR is still often at a point where it is called-in last minute to support other initiatives, whether it’s announcing something that’s already decided or supporting a marketing/advertising program. At those points, it can be difficult to come up with anything effective that benefits the organization. Agencies aren’t a silver bullet, but again they can contribute ideas.

Execution

10. Ongoing monitoring

Monitoring can be very resource-intensive, especially if your company has a significant footprint online or in peoples’ minds. Agencies are well placed to help deal with this pressure.

11. Online engagement

This is one area that I’ll rarely recommend the agency take on. It’s a lot of work and requires a thorough understanding of the online environment, but it’s something that (in most cases) should be done in-house. It allows for shorter approvals processes (important in a fast-moving conversation) and a more authentic voice.

Still, sometimes companies either can’t or aren’t ready to take this on. It may be resource issues, uncertainty over the medium, trust issues or a variety of other legitimate reasons, but there are times when an agency can undertake this work, as long as it’s transparent. It’s not ideal, but it’s possible, with the goal that, over time, the company will in-source this work.

Regardless, agencies can help to advise companies on their outreach – be it advice wording and norms or on whether in fact to engage or not with specific people.

12. Influencer outreach

I used to call this “blogger outreach” but online influencers are so much broader than just bloggers nowadays. Just as agencies undertake media relations activities in traditional public relations, so they can also reach out to online influencers in the new form PR has taken.

13. Issues management

If your company is interesting and matters to people, they will talk about you. That talk won’t always be positive. Sometimes it’s something you’ve done; sometimes it’s something about your product; sometimes it’s “news.” The list goes on. Regardless, monitoring for issues, identifying them early and coming up with suitable responses isn’t easy.

Full-service

14. Design and creative

More often than not, you’ll need some kind of design work done for your social media properties. Maybe it’s a Twitter background; maybe it’s a Facebook page or YouTube channel design; maybe it’s something more involved such as a stand-alone site. Either way, a full-service agency can help if you don’t have the in-house resources to undertake this work.

15. Development

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their ilk are tremendously powerful sites, and they may well be where your audience hangs out. Still, there are times when they just may not suffice, or where you want to build on top of the platform they provide – Facebook or mobile apps, for example.

What do you think? Are there other areas I’m missing?

Foursquare’s Potential For Hyper-Local Marketing

In recent weeks, I’ve become fascinated with the location-based social network Foursquare. While I’ve been using location-based apps on my Blackberry and iPod Touch for a while (Google Maps is a good example), Foursquare is the first service that has made me stop and think about the potential of hyper-local marketing on mobile devices, not just down the line but right now.

I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations with April Dunford (wannabe Mayor of Thornley Fallis) recently, which have really spurred that thinking.

Foursquare?

If you haven’t tried Foursquare yet (and most people haven’t), here’s the deal.

Foursquare describes itself as “50% friend-finder, 30% social cityguide, 20% nightlife game.” If you live in a city that’s currently supported, whenever you arrive at a new place you can “check in” to tell the service you’re there.

Each time you “check in” you earn points, which go towards a “leaderboard” of you and the people to whom you’ve chosen to connect. If you’ve visited a place more than anyone else in the last 60 days, you become the “mayor.” It’s largely meaningless, but cute.

So far, nice and simple. And right now, that’s where the service ends. That’s a problem, because the people signing-up for the service can get bored – quickly – if there’s nothing more.

Potential

Right now Foursquare seems to be focused on growing the number of cities it supports. I’m not sure that’s the right approach. If I were them, I would work to build a critical mass of people in a few cities by building-out the product to the meet its full potential.

The team announced a campaign yesterday to allow a company to sponsor its homepage by donating to a charity, so they’re clearly open to ideas. So, let’s stop and think for a minute about Foursquare’s room for enhancements.

Friends

At present, when you check Foursquare, you can see where your friends have checked-in in the last three hours. That’s lovely, but if someone was somewhere three hours ago (unless it’s work or home) they’re probably not there any more.

However, if you were to check into a hotel downtown, it would be great to know if your buddy Steve had recently checked-in somewhere nearby – you could give him a call and see what he’s up to. Maybe the app could pop up an SMS window or offer to dial his number.

Simple, but effective – enabling real-world meetups.

Offers

As a fairly heavy Foursquare user, the company knows where I hang out. I spend my days at the Thornley Fallis offices; I go to the same places for dinner a fair bit – that sort of thing. That kind of real-world behaviour offers an opportunity for them to present me with offers. If I were to be offered $10 off a meal in an area in which I already hang out, I’d be highly likely to take advantage of the offer.

It’s a powerful concept, which can branch off in various directions:

  • A straight customer acquisition play, pushed to any user in the area;
  • A limited-scope acquisition play – offered the first time a user checks in to a place (OrderIt.ca does this when you order from new restaurants through their service – this is a similar concept);
  • A loyalty play by tying the offers to a certain number of visits to the location in question – a bit like a rewards card.

Similarly, we’ve already heard about “Mayor Specials” (for example at Coffee Groundz in Houston, Texas) where the mayor of a certain location gets special treatment. There’s room for a concerted push in this area, beyond their own website, to the owners of businesses that have proven popular with users.

Advertisements

Google has made its billions from providing contextually relevant ads to its users. Google Maps goes one further, providing slightly more targeting based on your search. Foursquare can go even deeper, targeting the areas that you frequent.

This is gold. Online retailers have a relatively easy solution to generating traffic – online ads drive people to your website. Real-world businesses have a different problem. It’s harder to drive people through your door through the current web channels.

Imagine, though, that I received ads targeted to the place where I am now, whenever I checked in. As a small business owner, why on earth wouldn’t you want to invest in ads targeted people who you know are right outside your door? The conversions are a little harder to measure than through an e-commerce site, but it’s a powerful concept.

Focus

All of these things require one foundational step: focus,

Foursquare needs to focus on developing a critical mass in its core markets. Only with a significant number of users in a market does Foursquare become a viable investment for businesses. Right now, just one Toronto business is running a Foursquare promotion, and only one person has checked-in there.

New York, Boston, Toronto – wherever these markets are, the Foursquare team should think about how they can drive deeper adoption of the tool in those communities, first from a consumer perspective and then from a business perspective – where the clear business model lies.

What do you think? Have you tried Foursquare? Where do you think the potential lies?

The Huge Potential Of Location-Based Apps

Screenshot from Google Maps application on BlackberryThe growth of smart phones – from a consumer perspective, the iPhone in particular but also Blackberries – has really driven mobile apps into the limelight at a faster rate than almost any technology out there recently.

Over the last couple of years, and especially the last few months, we’ve seen mobile applications vault more and more into the mainstream. We’re at the point now where many people don’t think twice about downloading the latest Facebook, Google Maps or gaming application to use on their mobile device – any more than they would about downloading something to their desktop.

Mobile apps even appearing for business functions now (beyond regular email) – email campaign service Constant Contact launched an iPhone app yesterday to let people check in on their email campaigns, for example.

(Caveat: Of course, many people aren’t there yet. I know plenty of people whose phones don’t even have bluetooth, let alone data plans)

So, if mobile apps are becoming a current “big thing,” what’s next?

My take: local.

Keeping it local

While as sites like Yelp have leveraged user reviews at a local level, the best mobile apps over the next couple of years will pair GPS, cell tower or manually-set location information with contextual content.

Consider FourSquare. I started playing around with FourSquare fairly recently. Essentially, it’s a social network that lets you tell your contacts where you are right now. There are a bunch of other game-playing features wrapped around it, but it’s basically a location-based social network.

Think for a minute about the potential simple extensions to a network like this:

  • Know when your friends are in the same neighbourhood as you
  • Receive special offers from businesses in the area (check in at a subway station and get a $10-off coupon for a nearby restaurant, for example)
  • Ensure ads are targeted to only come from businesses in the neighbourhoods you frequent, or even the kinds of places you visit

Take that kind of thinking and consider the optional extensions to your favourite apps. I might like to know which nearby restaurants my Facebook friends have eaten at. I might want to be notified about breaking news from near my location, whereas I might have to proactively check a news app to get other news.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every application. I won’t go as far as Kate Imbach and suggest that you care what your neighbours are eating, but there are plenty of extremely interesting applications even for recipe-based sites (perhaps showing you which stores in your area stock the ingredients you need).

Stop and think for a moment – could your company or your clients be working location-based applications into their marketing mix?

What do you think?

(Additional: I’m on the look-out for good books on mobile marketing, especially those considering topics like this. If you know of any, let me know in the comments!)

Putting A Face On The Faceless Organization

Are you anonymous to journalists?Companies with faceless brands have some of the greatest opportunities in social media.

I’ve written on this topic before – there are several reasons why the opportunities are so great, but one stands out: the bar is set low for them. No-one expects to see them reaching out and engaging with people; when they do, it’s both noteworthy and newsworthy for many people.

Let me give you an example.

Putting a face on the Toronto Maple Leafs

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a quick note on Twitter:

“Just picked up two Leafs tickets for next week. I’m a glutton for punishment.”

Cue amused responses from numerous people. Among the replies, though, was this, from @MapleLeafs:

“@davefleet – OUCH! Dave. What game u coming too?” [sic]

The very fact that the Leafs replied to my tweet made me sit up and notice. Then, via a direct message, came this:

“For the TB game Tues, let me know when u arrive, and if u have time, i can show u some behind the scenes stuff.”

To cut a long story short, when we arrived at the game we were met by Jonathan Sinden, part of the Leafs interactive department and the man behind the official Maple Leafs Twitter account. Sinden joined the Leafs a few months ago after hearing that they were looking for someone to help them with social media.

Sinden took us on a tour behind the scenes at the stadium, including heading into the production centre (a truck!) from where the Sportsnet and Leafs TV shows are produced, which travels with the Leafs to every game (and through which they apparently almost never do tours on game day). Exceptionally cool. Now, if only the Leafs would start winning…

No longer a black hole

See what Sinden did here, with an investment of a couple of tweets and about 20 minutes of his time?

He put a face on a faceless organization.

Sinden did more than just show us around. He candidly answered our questions, he showed that the organization does care about the fans, and he gave us an experience that we would otherwise never have had. The Leafs became more than a blank, faceless organization and became much more personable. What’s more, this cost almost nothing to do.

How about you? What can your organization do to engage with its fans?

What do you think?

Book Review: Six Pixels Of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation bookAs I mentioned recently, I’ve been working my way through the book/audiobook of Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixels of Separation for a while now. Well, I’ve finally finished it… here’s my take…

The Good

  • Well-written – Six Pixels of Separation is written in Mitch’s usual friendly, candid style. Though the 270+ pages of content took me a while to get through, it certainly wasn’t because it was a hard read.
  • Well-targeted – social media is reaching a point where small businesses can effectively use it to build a presence online. There are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to go about it. This book aims at them, and keeps its beady eye on that audience throughout.
  • Good background – throughout the book, Mitch makes reference to the ways that traditional marketing works, and the ways social media marketing differs from that. It’s a useful perspective for people new to the field.
  • Good primer – Mitch takes his readers on a well-constructed tour through most of the basic elements of social media marketing. If you’re new to this stuff, it’s a great primer. If you’re a recent convert, it’s a good reminder.

The Not So Good

  • Nothing new – Take this one with a pinch of salt as I’m not the target. Whether it’s Join the Conversation or even back to ClueTrain, this book adds little that hasn’t been said before.
  • Same people – listen to Media Hacks or to Mitch’s podcast? You’ll have heard either directly from or about most of the people mentioned in this book.
  • Not so practical – this book is all about “why,” not “how.” If you’re looking for the “how” of social media, look elsewhere.

The Take-Aways

  • Nowadays, everyone researches things online. When they do that, you want them to find as much good content about you as possible.
  • Control is a myth. If you matter to people then they are talking about you, whether you know about it or not and whether you like it or not. The only choice is whether you participate.
  • Content is king.
  • Social media lets you choose and define your own niche, and own it.
  • Mobile marketing is emerging as a powerful channel.

Who should buy this book

Not you.

This book is targeted at small business owners who are still searching for the “why” of social media. If you’re reading this site, you’re probably beyond the “why” and into the “how.” You won’t learn much new from this book.

You.

(See what I did there?)

If you’re into social media or the evolution of marketing, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Unlike some other books out there, it’s not a string of blog posts strung together but a well written, cohesive book that flows well. So, if you’re looking for something to reinforce your general thoughts on social media, this is a good start.

The Conclusion

Most of the criticisms above are based on my prior knowledge – I live and work in this space and I either know or know of almost everyone mentioned in the book, so I’m clearly not the in the sweet spot. This book just isn’t targeted at me.

Despite those minor criticisms, though, I really enjoyed this book – enough that I was willing to pay for the audiobook as well as the hard-back copy. It’s easy to absorb, easy to understand and hard to put down. I’d happily recommend it to a small or medium-sized business owner looking to learn more about this space.

There’s my brief take. Have you read Mitch’s book? What did you think?