Power Friending Will Power Your Participation in Social Media

We have had no shortage of social media-related book reviews this year (or last year, like Anita Campbell’s review of The Digital Handshake).  Now, thanks to the suggestion of a Small Business Trends book review reader, we were made aware of another book that is useful for those learning how to use social media effectively.

Enter Amber Mac.  A former media strategist with Razorfish and more recently a producer of tech programs at Citytv and G4techTV, Mac has written a guide on optimizing your communication called Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business.  I received a review copy, and felt that among the social media books available, it is probably one of the most accessible for small business owners wishing to improve the management of their online communications.

Making friends wherever you go

Power Friending outlines the rules for making online friends through an ABC formula – A for authenticity, B for bravery and C for consistency.  A begins with deciding what your communication is about.

“The first rule of authenticity is that you don’t talk about authenticity.  Well, at least not publicly. The people who achieve success on the Web, whether it’s a 20-year-old student who started a multimillion-follower fashion blog or an 80-year-old grandmother who launched the number-one video blog on YouTube, represent real passion to their audiences.  They don’t harp on about authenticity, but they do present themselves in an authentic way.”

There are segments that explain developing a communications strategy for a single user or for teams. In fact, the teamwork emphasis is where this book shines, such as its list of 10 best practices for a social media team and a brief overview of the advantages co-managing can bring (less work, more variety of engagement, more friending possibilities).

Power Friending also incorporates video media usage, such as adding a B-roll to a video, and mobile applications, media that is growing in  importance.  Mac also writes on applications that will impact the options available for businesses, such as augmented reality (the use of scanning to augment what is seen in the real world) and mobile meetups.  This near-future aspect is something many social media books fail to consider, and I liked how Mac offers the information by not stretching too far ahead of the current state of media.

Learn, learn and learn some more

Power Friending uses examples of successes and failures to educate readers. Small businesses are represented by examples such as Threadless, a custom T-shirt company that through its follower voting on Twitter and Facebook was able to sell 100,000 shirts a month and gained 800,000 Facebook fans.  Other successes include Starbucks and Nissan’s Hypercube effort in Canada, while failures include Bringpopcorn.com’s attempt to gain Diggs.

The failures are analyzed well, with explanations clearly tied to the concepts Mac espouses.  These are easy for small business owners to not only understand, but also use to improve on their own efforts.  I liked the example of Skittles allowing all tweets with the keyword “Skittles” to appear on its site:

“Such an open campaign did not give Skittles the family-friendly image it wanted. With zero guidance, users began slamming the brand and its marketing strategy, a lot of times just to watch their negative notes appear on the Mars-owned company’s home page. For example, Mike Butcher wrote, ‘Skittles give you cancer and is the cause of all world evil.’ Hundreds more people included profanity in their tweets, making some visitors think that the Skittles home page must have been hacked.”

The examples good and bad are clear and often memorable.  Mac’s point throughout Power Friending is to manage the challenges and make the most of the media to create a consistent message.

How it stacks up against other social media books

Power Friending is a small book similar to Chris Brogan’s Social Media 101. It gives an overview of executing social media that differs from 101, yet it does not delve deep into a discussion of measurement like Jim Sterne’s Social Media Metrics.  All three books are an aid to social media, with Power Friending making its place in between. Power Friending aims for and achieves the right mix for social media users who know the basics and now need to develop tools, teams and communication styles without the in-depth measurement discussions that marketers and web analytics specialists typically enjoy.

Despite some personal misgivings about how current a social media books can remain over time, I am convinced the material in this book will retain its value well.  I learned a few new tools along the way, and gained context for my new learning without anything being dumbed down.

A straightforward guide to making friends

Whether you have a community manager in your organization or a team of social media ninjas, this book is perfectly suited for you, with actionable suggestions that will help those responsible take initiative.  Power Friending is a truly awesome guide to communication and social media.

Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.