Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: The Art of Social Media

Communication guru Marshall McLuhan asserted that "the medium is the message" so many years ago. I'm sure he had no idea how many platforms that message would be funneled through by the 21st century. I thought of him a lot when I read The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, the new book by information power players, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. And as I attempted to absorb all that was put before me in this fast-paced, coming at you from all angles at breakneck speed book, I realized that no one could have predicted what today’s message disseminators were going to have to deal with. 

The first line of the book sets the tone as Kawasaki tells us the authors want us to “rock social media.” This is not “Social Media For Dummies”--if you are looking for the ABC’s, you will have to look elsewhere. In order to really appreciate what the book is about you must understand the basic concepts--meaning, no neophytes here, please. Only those who have already dipped their toes in the proverbial social media sea will benefit.

Kawasaki expects the reader to hit the ground running, and if you can keep up, you will find a huge storehouse of information about how to approach every social media platform and use it to its best advantage--for yourself, your business or a client’s business or organization.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, are all discussed in depth with content curation being a dominant focus. Where to find content that fits your niche, how and when to post, and how to respond to what will hopefully be many comments. Kawasaki stresses the importance of knowing your audience, building your network and increasing your fan base: “There are only two kinds of people on social media: those who want more followers, and those who are lying,” and his sharp wit often helps bring his point home. Of course, all of this is done with the ultimate intention of making money.

By often referring to his co-author, Peg, and providing both textual and visual examples of how she handles social media issues (she too is a thought leader in the field), the reader is actually getting a “two for one” deal. Kawasaki also uses a liberal hand when peppering his explanations with quotes and links from other industry smarties. (NOTE: I read the electronic version and found being able to immediately click on his links to be amazingly helpful.)

In addition to the “How To’s” (how to run a Google Hangout, how to take charge of an event, how to create a SlideShare presentation, how to organize a Twitter chat), the author has no problem telling us what not to do: “don’t be a pimp,” “don’t swear,” “don’t beg for shares and follows.” There are times when he does chide any naysayers--something I found to be a bit disconcerting--but he also goes out of his way to state that his “tips, tricks, and insights” should not be taken as gospel.

Whether you drink all the Kool-Aid or not, the book is so super-packed with information that you can’t help but take something away from it. It took me so long to get through it because I kept stopping to take notes! And, some of the most helpful portions appear after the conclusion...the list of apps and services is invaluable for someone like me who is often looking them up online. 

This book will serve as a helpful manual for anyone who handles social media for themselves or others and wants to learn how it can help grow your business. I know that I will reread it many times--each chapter is largely written as a separate entity, and can be easily referred to independently of the others. Algorithms will change and apps will come and go, but the philosophy and strategies that the authors so comprehensively share will continue to be pertinent for a long time to come.