A Review of Social Media Judo

Social media has become old hat for Small Business Trends readers.  You’ve been on the bandwagon for years, you’ve read the books and followed the advice, so why should you read yet another book about social media?

That’s exactly what I thought to myself when Social Media Judo showed up in my mailbox.  This book had better contain some worthy lessons about launching successful social media campaigns or it would just be a waste of time.

Background on the Book

Social Media Judo is a super-short book written by Chris Aarons, Geoff Nelson and Nick White with Dan Zehr from Ivy Worldwide (@IvyWorldwide).  I actually had the chance to chat with Nick White a couple of times when Ivy Worldwide released a few studies about how business owners buy.  At the time, I didn’t know very much about Ivy Worldwide other than their research on business owners’ buying habits.

But when I received this book, I realized that the authors were partners at Ivy Worldwide and that the social media judo lessons they are talking about are actual debriefs of some of the best and worst campaigns they’d worked on, either as part of Ivy or in their previous corporate incarnations.

Best Social Media Lessons

When I think about judo, I think about focus, leveraging strength and flow.  So when I read the title of the book, my expectations were set to get focused tips on how to use social media strategies to leverage my marketing campaigns. Instead, Social Media Judo was a collection of case studies and stories about what worked and what didn’t.  There were lessons inside the stories, but they weren’t as obvious as I had expected. Here are a few:

–          Manage ethics perceptions and communication. When the authors distributed top-of-the-line PCs with the new Vista operating system to 128 influential bloggers, many of them perceived it as a “pay per post.” Vista and Acer computers got lots of links and mentioned.  Bloggers were engaged, but the results weren’t as stellar as the authors had hoped for.

–          Authentically engage the blogging community. A common element of the Ivy Worldwide campaigns is engaging thought leaders.  But they also show how poor and shallow engagement can backfire.  Be sure to engage influencers early, and be clear about what their responsibilities are.

What I Liked About Social Media Judo

Social Media Judo includes the voices of some of the most influential people on the Web including Chris Pirillo from Lockergnome and Johan van Mierlo, who writes MobilityMinded.com.  There are many, many more, and I would have liked to see a reference at the end of the book listing all of them with their websites.

This book is a small paperback that’s the perfect read on a business trip. Think of Social Media Judo as an extended article or novella.  It’s longer than a magazine article, shorter than your average book and loaded with fun insights and facts.

Another thing I liked is its easy-to-read tone. You’ll have the impression of sitting around a cozy table with a few guys and listening to their stories.  The authors throw the story ball back and forth and make you feel like you are part of an insider conversation or debrief after a marketing campaign.

What Was Missing for Me

There was no table of contents.  When I review or read a book, I like to see how it’s organized.  If you’re the type of reader who just dives right in, you may not miss it.

I would have liked to see clearly laid out chapters focused on marketing outcomes.  This book reads like a series of case studies and war stories.  And there is nothing wrong with that — in fact, it’s one of the things I liked.  At the same time, I found myself craving specificity, checklists or tips around the strategies they were talking about.  There were so many great tips throughout the book, I would have loved to see a summary at the end of the chapters or sections.

On the one hand, the case studies and stories are pointing out mistakes and successes, but on the other hand, the reader is left to develop their own tactics around how to make their own campaigns successful — and potentially make the very same mistakes.  For example, there is an example of a letter Visa used in a social media campaign, which was criticized by the authors.  But there is no sample of a better letter, just a bullet list of what Visa should have done.  I would have liked to see their letter re-written using those examples.

Who Should Read Social Media Judo

Anyone who is a social media strategy junkie will really enjoy this book.  I enjoyed the reviews and the references to campaigns I was familiar with.  If you love business war stories, this is a terrifically fun book.  You’ll learn about social media strategies and get the down and dirty, behind-the-scenes stories of how popular product campaigns came to life, as well as some of the challenges and setbacks.

If you’re in the business of developing social media campaigns, you’ll find this book useful because you’ll get to form your own opinions and strategies about how you would have run these same campaigns.

Overall, Social Media Judo is a short, easy and educational read.  You’ll have to read through the stories to get to the good stuff, but your time will be well spent.

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."