By: Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo
Publisher: No Starch Press
Publication Date: November 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: July 13, 2010
If you own a business, you have no doubt heard that you need to use social media sites to market your product(s). And you've probably tried. But if you're like many entrepreneurs, you've had little or no success using such sites. Friends With Benefits will explain what you're doing wrong, and what you need to do, to improve sales with the aid of social media sites.
The authors cover a lot of topics within the pages of this how-to book. After a quick overview of what, exactly, social media sites are, the authors dive right into the interesting stuff. Subjects include: finding the right bloggers, netiquette, how to measure success, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and online communities. Each topic is handled with a fair amount of depth.
While the initial sections of the chapter on blogging didn't tell me anything I didn't already know (where to start, who should blog, what should you write about, how often to blog), I did enjoy the section on "A Few Blogging Don'ts" and urls of corporate blogs to emulate. The same holds true for the chapters on netiquette, devising your pitch and how to monitor the web. I suspect newbies will get a lot out of these chapters while those more familiar with the Net will want to skim these parts.
As a resource guide, you certainly don't need to read the book from beginning to end. Rather, I think you'll get more out of it if you flip around to the topics that interest you and relate to your business. When I received Friends With Benefits, I went right to the chapter, "Does MySpace Still Matter?" Like so many, I started a MySpace page back when the site was THE place for social networking. But with the emergence of Facebook, countless MySpace pages were abandoned and now sit languishing and forgotten. Does MySpace still matter? The authors argue that while the site has been surpassed by Facebook, it still has approximately 125 million users worldwide and that's too big of a potential audience to ignore. Like the other sites covered in this book, the authors include a brief mention of demographics; something every business needs to evaluate before spending time and money to get the word out. In the section on marketing with MySpace, the reader is told how to access those demograhics as well as how to get your message to go viral. There are then several success stories, giving ideas on how the reader can capitalize on the same methods, as well as tips and tricks.
The chapters on the other social media sites follow much the same pattern as that outlined above for MySpace. Some of the advice is pretty obvious, such as "pick the right title" (for a YouTube video), others I had to applaud, such as don't "tweet too much," and other suggestions were quite informative such as how to use an API (application programming interface) to boost your Facebook visibility.
While I learned a lot from Friends With Benefits, your satisfaction with the book will depend greatly on your familiarity with social media sites. The authors point this out in their introduction, "This book is for marketers...this book isn't for you if...you don't know the Internet from a Christmas cactus...if you've been a blogger for five years and have more than 500 Facebook friends...your target audience is under the age of sixteen."
Quill says: Friends With Benefits is the perfect book to help grow your business with the use of social media sites. I just wish I could find the time to do it all!