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Book Review: 500 Social Media Marketing Tips

28 September 2012 BY

“500 Social Media Marketing Tips” is a plain paper guide that will, I understand, be sold online for $2.99. At that price, I had low expectations. These expectations were, unfortunately, met!

The first thing the book does is take us out to the writer’s social networking sites. Twitter was one of the first mentioned, so I felt warmer to Andrew having ‘met’ him. There’s nothing in the guide to offer an introductory context, so until that point he was a faceless person who I had never heard of, suggesting 500 tips to me.

On the first page is the normal branding copyright notices, but rather than being tucked away in a corner, they’re the first thing you read. As there didn’t appear to be any branding to match the warning, and the guide is written by someone with only 235 followers on Twitter, I was cynical before I started, particularly for a guide that demands payment in a World where this kind of content is freely available.

I tried hard to fight this cynicism as I read it. Unfortunately, there is little to take you through the sections, and a lack of numbering of pages or of tips means that referencing is hard. Andrew wasn’t making it easy to change that first impression.

The immediate problem is that the guide lacks any definition of audience. The tips are a mass, organised only by media type, and it’s hard to see who it is aimed at (or even to see if there really are 500 tips!) If you already have a solid social media presence, going through the tips here might make you take a look and review what you’re doing, but it’s unlikely to expand your knowledge or understanding. You might pick up the odd tip or two though.

If you are a complete social media beginner, could the guide have some useful information? Most of the tips seem solid.  There are a lot of them (tips). And for a complete beginner looking for some ideas, the guide might spark some thought for tactics that they haven’t considered.  Even for an experienced practitioner, it doesn’t hurt to take a look and see if you’ve missed a trick. I found one or two areas that I personally could perhaps take a look at.

The guide overall reads as if the writer has been researching for his own purposes, to set up his own social profiles. In the spirit of sharing this information, it works just fine. It might also go a way to explaining the inconsistency in style – some tips have more depth (instructions or explanations) and some and hugely generic (where, in my opinion, they merit some qualification).

To test this out, I zoned in on the Google + section, an area where I personally have a presence but know am less engaged than I should be. I was surprised – and delighted – to find one or two tips that I could learn from, which makes me look at the rest of the guide in a slightly more positive light from an ‘absolute beginners’ perspective.

Mostly I was disappointed, though. Examples?

Some of the advice in the LinkedIn section, for example, I would actively disagree with. For example, if you accept connections from every single person who approaches you, you are giving them access to both personal data and all of your contacts. As someone who’s been stalked online in the past by someone with real mental health issues, I can assure you that this is a very bad idea, and Heaven forbid that there should be spammers out there! I can think of few quicker ways to damage hard won business relationships.

“Be consistent, present, real, and genuine in all of your communication” is little more than lip service. One of the best accounts I follow on Twitter is someone pretending to be the Queen of the UK. It’s very blatantly not real or genuine, and I love it. I sometimes schedule tweets for times when I’m not there. Because frankly no-one needs to hear work stuff from me at 2am just because I’m suffering from insomnia, and no-one needs to get 20 tweets in a row in their Twitter stream.

For the average SEO practitioner, I also suspect this publication will be found lacking. There is little to explain the ‘why’ of some tips, and things look different from a search perspective.

One of the later tips, for example, is ‘Don’t Be Provocative’Whilst I agree with the qualifying sentiment -“Unless your brand can withstand it, don’t post content that is likely to produce an inflammatory response” – being appropriately provocative is great for important and valuable link creation.

Similarly, the tip that suggests you should measure with Google analytics gives some headline information, but no details of how to do this.

My overall recommendation would therefore be that this guide could be useful to someone setting out on their social media journey, perhaps even to a business owner/manager – but if you’re going to use it, check in with someone with experience from time to time. For anyone else, if you can lay your hands on a copy, in the midst of 500 tips there may be one or two you hadn’t thought about.

It feels mean saying this – I know how much work goes into creating guides – but the author should taking his own advice: ‘dogfooding’. References are made in several places to giving things away free and building trust. Whilst $2.99 is a small amount of money, there is enough cross promotion in the guide to justify free distribution.  Life’s too short to go through the hassle of online banking verification for a 91 page booklet – even one that promises constant updates – with no easy way around it.

A lot of information may well be in the guide, but Google’s still free to use and you’re more likely to find what you need there – faster, and in more depth.

Editorial note:

The book was sent to us by the author, in this one case we sent him the review back before publishing. We didn’t adjust anything of the review but agreed to put his comments on the review here below.

 

First, I’d like to just say that I really appreciate State of Search for taking the time to review my book, and I am sorry that their blogger did not enjoy it or find it helpful. Whilst I agree in part with a few of the points raised, State of Search has been kind enough to allow me to address several of the review’s criticisms, inaccuracies and oversights, which will help explain why I do not think 500 Social Media Marketing Tips was given the fairest chance.

- “500 Social Media Marketing Tips” is a plain paper guide that will, I understand, be sold online for $2.99″
This information is incorrect. It costs $3.99 on Amazon.com and £2.99 on Amazon.co.uk

- “On the first page is the normal branding copyright notices, but rather than being tucked away in a corner, they’re the first thing you read.”
Amazon and other book sellers require a copyright page by law, so I find this a strange criticism.

- “the guide is written by someone with only 235 followers on Twitter, I was cynical before I started.”
I do not believe the number of followers a person has on Twitter should be used as a barometer of a book’s quality, even one on social media, and the reviewer seems to have decided they didn’t like the book before even reading it.

- “There’s nothing in the guide to offer an introductory context, so until that point he was a faceless person who I had never heard of, suggesting 500 tips to me.”
The book is sold exclusively on Amazon Kindle at present – a link was provided to the reviewer – where an author bio is listed on the product page. There is also an ‘About The Author’ section in the book, with links to all of my social media profiles, and a photo of my face, which act as social proof of my existence.

- “Unfortunately, there is little to take you through the sections, and a lack of numbering of pages or of tips means that referencing is hard. Andrew wasn’t making it easy to change that first impression.”
As the book is designed to include clickable chapter links in Kindle, no page numbers are necessary. This, of course, an issue with the PDF version provided to the reviewers, so apologies for that.

- “The immediate problem is that the guide lacks any definition of audience. The tips are a mass, organised only by media type, and it’s hard to see who it is aimed at.”
I believe the title of the book,the book description on Amazon, and its introductory paragraph with facts and figures about using social media marketing for business, make the target audience clear. Organising the tips by social media network seems the best way of doing things, and the tips in these sections are grouped together in themes.

- “Some of the advice in the LinkedIn section, for example, I would actively disagree with. For example, if you accept connections from every single person who approaches you, you are giving them access to both personal data and all of your contacts.”
There is no mention in the book of accepting connections from everybody on LinkedIn.

- ““Be consistent, present, real, and genuine in all of your communication” is little more than lip service. One of the best accounts I follow on Twitter is someone pretending to be the Queen of the UK. It’s very blatantly not real or genuine, and I love it.”
This (my) point aimed at interaction with customers, something a parody account like the English Queen obviously is not.

- “I sometimes schedule tweets for times when I’m not there. Because frankly no-one needs to hear work stuff from me at 2am just because I’m suffering from insomnia, and no-one needs to get 20 tweets in a row in their Twitter stream.”
This might apply to personal Twitter accounts, but not to business accounts speaking to customers, which the book is aimed at. The book actively suggests not spamming your customers.

I know I very much risk coming across as bitter at a bad review (heck, I probably already have :P), but I honesty would not have been anywhere near as upset had many of the criticisms been valid, and had there been evidence that State of Search’s reviewer had researched a few of the basic facts, and understood who book’s target audience was before ripping into it so mercilessly! As such, I would encourage readers to check out a free sample of the book on Amazon to help them further decide whether they would find it useful. I hope you can give it a chance :) Andrew.

AUTHORED BY:
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Claire Thompson has has 15 years PR experience and runs Waves PR, which she founded. She has great taste in wine and lousy taste in music. The two are not unconnected!
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