With so many blogs covering social media and so much disjointed information about it floating around, I had been trying to find a resource that talked about social media within an organized framework, from the basics to more advanced topics and concepts.
Fortunately, in their recently published ebook Getting to First Base: A Social Media Marketing Playbook (PDF format – 104 pages), Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo take a good swing at it (no pun intended) and give us a comprehensive overview of social media, from its definition down to strategic and tactical advice drawn from their experience running Capulet Communications, their social media marketing company.
The first few pages are dedicated to explaining who is the intended audience of the book. After reading the book, I concluded that the people who would mostly benefit from it are those who have some basic knowledge of PR, advertising or Internet marketing, for example:
- People who were already active in Web 1.0 running a static site, email newsletter, etc. and want to take the leap to Web 2.0 but don’t know where to start.
- People who have started a blog but don’t know how to promote it or use it effectively to build their brand.
- People with experience in traditional marketing and PR but little awareness of the possibilities that social media may offer.
This book is not for Internet marketing novices, nor for people who are already proficient in blogging and/or are advanced users of the different social networking or social bookmarking sites.
The three sections I enjoyed the most (and found most useful) are:
- The explanation of the differences between social media and traditional, mainstream media.
- The detailed diagrams that outline the scope of the social media environment.
- The recommendations on how to approach influential bloggers and how to make a pitch. I particularly appreciated the real-life examples provided by the authors, who candidly share their experiences (both successful and unsuccessful) with actual customers.
The book may leave you yearning for more when it talks about the main social networking and social bookmarking sites. Not all sites are profiled (for example, MySpace is left out) and those who are included are not dealt with in a very detailed manner. This is understandable, though, since the objective of the book is to present a broad overview of social media and not to go too deep into any particular subject.
Overall, this book will help you achieve a better understanding of the landscape of social media, make your site social media ready, launch a social media relations campaign, and identify the risks and pitfalls of social media marketing.
I particularly liked the authors’ writing style, from the tongue-in-cheek title selection (Getting to First Base) to the different metaphorical references to dating, like “courting” influential bloggers, the”dating” stage of social media, etc.. This choice of words really helps convey the core message of the book, namely that social media marketing is all about developing authentic, transparent long term relationships (with readers, customers and other bloggers).
I believe this book fulfills its promise to take you to first base in your social media marketing efforts. I also found more than enough value to justify the book’s price point (the real life examples and the sound advice on how to pitch influential bloggers are alone probably worth much more). When you also factor in that the book will be constantly updated, and that the updates will be sent to you automatically and free of additional charges, the book is a real bargain at $29.