I was priviledged, and a little bit bewildered at the same time, when invited to review the book ‘The Art of Social Media’ by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. I had volunteered by the way, signing up to a website, but had never anticipated the fact that I may be among the frontrunners for this task. I wasn’t sure what to think because the mighty man that is supposedly ‘Mr Social Media’ had indicated to his publishing house that I, a mere midget of a blogger, might be able to participate in its success: Why Me? Perhaps a few thousand others are in the same position scratching thier heads wondering as to why they may have been picked. It is probably all about geographic spread – there not many people in Switzerland writing in English or have the faintest idea who Guy Kawasaki or Peg Fitzpatick are. It’s certainly not my writing skills that had me selected, that’s for sure (know thy weaknesses)!
As such, I have read the book and am going through it again for a second time. I can tell you that it is an interesting read, especially if you are very much starting off and you would like to have the Social Media aspect completely aligned across all the options now available on the market. The book is packed with ‘how-to’ information, albeit some rather common sense items, and many that reference Guy’s other business interests 😉 naughty, naughty – Nnnnno, just promotion and Social Media machinations. Isn’t that the point of marketing? If you are an old-timer in Social Media the book may just seem like teaching Grandma to suck eggs. As it stands I got quite a bit out of it but it was much more helpful to my spouse, who is just starting off in this domain. Like I said if you are starting out is is a great guide.
My journey in ‘networking’, the old term for Social Media, & ‘marketing’ was back in the late 90s . I spotted LinkedIn early whereupon I was around number 550 to sign-up. When I received a thank you letter from the CEO some many years later it only made me realise what a plonker I had been not having entered into this business intrinsicly. I have merely followed Social Media as things have come and gone. I have Blogged and Social Media’d my way in and around a number of different topics. In my real life I am do B2B Marketing and it is not a place that Social Media has any real benefit…No, that is not defeatist, it is the voice of a realist who has understood the merit and the place that this medium is made for. In the industry that I cater for sales cycles are 18 months to 2 years or even longer, with extremely comlex systems-selling-scenarios. There are no commoditised items and a small circle of companies fighting it out for the market. Marketing and Social Media feature but the SM part is very small as we do not have enough valuable sories. We need to be discreet and not tell the competition what we are up to. Many of the things we do are done in order to aid customer get to the consumer. So we facilitate Social Media in a sense just not our own directly. What is your point? Well Social Media seems to be about combining a plethora of systems, writing and tools that have ultimately fragmented marketing. The Art of Social Media guides you through that admirably, developing a cohesive strategy from A to Z.
Going back to an earlier blog-piece on Social Media that I feel is relevant to the book (something that is missing in its pages) – If you have clearly and concisely used ALL of the techniques : What do you do if it does NOT work – then what?
What I wrote a short time ago was the following: There are a huge amount of failures in Social Media but you do not hear much about them unless they are huge Company cock-ups. Social Media is in the main only about success and good news stories. Those aforementioned failures are hidden and never discussed. There are many overly optimistic types that can turn around a failed campaign into a good enough positive to drive a success story, such is the overly exuberance of Social Media experts. We see hundreds of thousands of people, all using the tool of self proclamation and the title of expert or guru. In the book Guy and Peg tell us to stay away from them which is clearly contradictory, as that is what he/she is often described as – a Social Media Expert/Guru.
I have a handful of personal experiences in failed Social Media…Not because I am bad at it but because I have found that if you are in early and hit the sweet-spot you can potentially flourish; the Big Fish in a Small Sea situation – if you are only the Small Fish in a Big Sea then you know where that potentially leads – often to failure no matter how hard you try.
Let’s look at Picasso as an example (a great marketeer) … who was originally a traditional painter yet only one amongst many in his era … In order to stand out from the crowd he invented a different style (cubism) that went against the grain and the establishment. Look where it led! However, today there are millions upon millions more people on the planet equally talented, equally imaginative, equally trying to be different, yet the opportunity for ‘differentiation’ and inventing something new is rapidly diminishing. Most things, styles, products have been invented and many things, which are being offered up as if they are new, are not. It is just that people do not look deep enough or far enough back to see if their stuff is original. For all the successes, just as for all the inventions, there is a minuscule percentage that make it.
Social Media is no exception to the ebb and flow of success and failure. However, if at first you dont succeed then you must, if you are a true Social Media believer, try and try and yes, try again. Get the book as and when you feel the time is right or the price is right – I personally find the price tag a little high considering this book is swimming in a sea of equally clever Social Media self-help books. Nonetheless if you do dip in to the waters you must follow the tips, do the exercises and report back as to whether or not it helped. That will be the measure of this book. Not how many copies it sells, ever filling the pockets of the money-making authors (their words not mine), but just how many people actually benefit from its guidance.