If you read just one book this season about the hot-hot-hot topic of social media, make sure it’s Tamar Weinberg’s “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web.”
If you are trying to get your arms around social media and how you or your business can participate, this book is a superb overview. By reading this book you will learn how to use social media in business — whether you are employed in a large business, manage a small business, or are a solo entrepreneur.
This book is a great place for newbies to start. But don’t worry if you are past the beginner level. If you rate yourself at the intermediate level, or even the advanced level in social media, there’s much to hold your attention. I learned a lot from this book, despite being steeped in social media everyday due to the nature of my work.
WHERE THIS BOOK SHINES
There are so many things about this book to recommend it. Here are some reasons you should read this book:
How to Use Social Media to Market a Business — The first few chapters explain what social media is and how it has changed the face of marketing today. I especially recommend Chapter Two, on setting goals for social media. Too often I see companies with no strategy for how to use social media. Their activities are aimless and undirected. Chapter Two will help you develop a strategy for social media that supports and promotes your overarching business goals.
Wide Number of Sites Covered — I love the way this book covers so many useful social media sites. It goes beyond the usual suspects. Sure it covers Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and, of course, Twitter.
But it also covers sites such as Mahalo, showing you how to participate there. I have heard of Mahalo, but never spent much time on it before. Now I may, because now I can see how it has a purpose for my business.
It also covers sites I have never heard of before, such as: Diigo, Mento, Kirtsy and Tip’d, to name a few. Not every site will be right for every business. But the book helps you quickly develop a short list of sites to investigate.
Detailed “How-to” Advice — I love the kind of detailed, specific pointers you get in The New Community Rules.
There are thousands of social sites today. A lot of social media books that cover many sites tend to be general in nature. Many puff up their word count with well-known stories — entertaining but not so useful. Example: a typical book might tell you the story of how people found out about a plane going down in the Hudson River through Twitter. Now, that’s an interesting bit of news. But does it help you know what to do next to grow your business? When I read a book about social media, that’s the question I want answered: ‘what do I do with this interesting story?’
I expect a book to tell me:
(1) exactly what actions to take; and
(2) which social media sites to make part of the marketing mix.
That’s what you get with The New Community Rules. You will learn WHAT to do, WHERE.
How to Use Special Features of Large Social Sites — Large social media sites are maturing. They have been around so long that they now offer added features. Often the most value comes from these additional features.
An example is a site like LinkedIn. The first thing (sometimes the only thing) businesspeople do on LinkedIn is set up a profile. However, your profile on LinkedIn is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more that LinkedIn can do! To get the most out of it, you will want to use features such as LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Groups. The book includes details about such features, not only for LinkedIn, but about other sites.
In fact, the book has a lot of advice about social sites that’s not widely known by the average businessperson. I guarantee that unless you are an inveterate Digger or Stumbler or LinkedIn Power User, you will learn things you didn’t know about Facebook, Digg, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn and other large sites you may have visited multiple times.
In short, the book answers the big question: ‘OK, I’ve got a Facebook or LinkedIn profile — now what do I do with it?’
Lots of Screenshots — Pictures convey information that is hard to grasp through words only. If you’ve never seen a particular social media site, it’s tough to understand how it works. One of the beauties of this book is the large number of screenshots. Rarely do more than 2 or 3 pages go by without a screenshot.
They are black-and-white images. While color would have been nice, they still are detailed enough to provide additional insights as you read. (Note: in the online version of the book referred to below, the images are all in color. Only in the printed book are they are black-and-white .)
Citations to Find Out More — Each chapter includes endnotes. These are links to Web pages and articles online where you can learn more. So, if you want to learn more about a particular subject, you know where to go.
You might wonder how useful the links are in a print book. Never fear — this book comes with a complimentary online version available for 45-days. The print book is published by O’Reilly, and on the last page is a code to use at O’Reilly’s Safari Books unit to read it online (although you must pay if you wish to download and save the PDF). Links are clickable in the online version.
TAMAR WEINBERG, THE AUTHOR
The cognoscenti of social media know who Tamar Weinberg is. She’s no newcomer. She’s been involved with the Web and social media from the beginning as it has evolved and grown. She understands it as easily as breathing in air. In fact, you need only mention her first name, Tamar, and her reputation precedes her. People know it’s THE Tamar.
These days anyone can be a self-professed “social media expert.” But it’s really up to others to say when someone is an expert — and I think the community widely has spoken. Tamar Weinberg is a social media marketing expert.
GET THE NEW COMMUNITY RULES
The New Community Rules is the kind of book you will want to keep and refer back to regularly. It is a softcover of 326 pages. It has enough depth and detailed advice to continue helping you as your social media skills grow. I highly recommend The New Community Rules.