Over at a private online-business forum where I am a Moderator, the members regularly discuss social media. About once every 60 days someone will start a thread that ends up as a referendum on the same question:
“Is social media a waste of time for businesses?”
Those discussions always end the same way. Some people are convinced of social media’s value. Others flatly declare that “real businesses don’t get any real value from social media.” Still others are confused and aren’t sure what to think.
If the jury is still out on social media in your mind, then I recommend you read Likeable Social Media. Author Dave Kerpen answers the question about social media’s business value on the very first page.
He begins the book by telling the story of waiting in the check-in line at the trendiest hotel in Las Vegas. Frustrated, he pulled out his BlackBerry and tweeted about the unpleasantness of waiting for an hour. He got a return tweet — from a competitor of that hotel. Dave then writes, “Guess where I ended up staying the next time I went to Las Vegas.” He points out that a single tweet resulted in a $600 sale for the competitor.
That opening story is an example of the kind of practical insights you will get from Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks).
As the title indicates, the book is primarily about Facebook, with a healthy dose of Twitter for good measure. There are references, for sure, to other social sites such as LinkedIn. But mostly those are in passing or lumped in at the end. What you’ll learn from this book are nuts and bolts about how to harness Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes, to build a brand and deepen customer loyalty.
I liked this book because of the many practical marketing examples and how-tos. The book always starts with strategic objectives — but doesn’t stop there. It tells you what you need to do to accomplish your objectives. Here is what I found especially valuable:
- It tells you how to “listen” on social media. How many times have you heard advice to “use social media to listen to your customers” but walked away wondering just how one goes about “listening” to Facebook or Twitter? This book not only suggests tools, but uses examples of how companies like Neutrogena and IBM listen. Listening starts with reading what others write on Facebook and Twitter, digesting it, and responding to their pain and appealing to their interests.
- Likeable Social Media explains how to slice and dice your target market on Facebook. In one sense, Facebook is a marketer’s dream because people have so many opportunities to self-identify themselves, their occupations, their interests. I had previously seen a presentation at a conference about the amazing ability to target an audience using Facebook, but soon forgot. This book serves as a reference for how to “nanotarget” using Facebook ads. For instance, a marketing agency can show its ads just to those with titles like “chief marketing officer,” “vice president of marketing” and “brand manager.” Try doing that on Google pay-per-click ads.
- You’ll learn how to get more involvement from customers on Facebook. You may have heard about Facebook Edge, the algorithm that determines whether and to whom your content gets displayed in their wall. The book explains it and why it’s important. It even goes on to give examples of questions that will engage people and get them participating.
- The book explains how to deal with negative comments. No matter how well loved your business, you’re never going to keep 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. Inevitably you’ll have to deal with negative comments (hopefully not too many, though). This book has some simple straightforward advice about how to respond to complaints on social media, including Twitter-sized responses.
- Get pointers on how to recognize your customers and fans on social media. Sure, there can be big contests. But simple recognitions (“welcome to our 1,000th fan!”) that cost nothing, can do wonders for a small business on a budget.
The above 5 topics only scratch the surface of Likeable Social Media. The important thing to remember is: the book is not a re-hash of generalities or a collection of marketing-speak It gives you practical insights that you can build a marketing plan from. The list of Action Items at the end of each chapter gives you next steps.
Who should read this book? Anyone responsible for marketing or social media in a company … business-to-business or business-to-consumer. I also recommend it for entrepreneurs trying to grow their businesses on a shoestring. And it’s useful for small-business owners wanting to make sure their marketing investment of staff time and money is being well-used.
At first when I saw the book (a Kindle review copy) and the clients that were acknowledged (several mega-brands), I wondered how relevant this book would be for small businesses. I needn’t have worried. At least 85% of the examples are ones any size business can employ — even on the tiniest marketing budget. This isn’t about big glitzy campaigns you can never hope to replicate. It’s about jumping feet first into social media — doing what you can with what you have. It’s about how to use social media, especially Facebook, without the big budget or the huge staff.