There seems to be a never-ending stream of social media books, and there’s good reason for that. While most of them will explain why social media is important for your company (it is) and enjoin you to be authentic (you must), things change so quickly in this field that every new book becomes outdated quickly. The most persuasive and practical handbook from 2011 wouldn’t have included RebelMouse and might not have included Pinterest, or even the Facebook timeline.
There has to be a continual stream of updates, and — since social media changes frequently in its specifics but not so much in its broader outlines — there’s a great deal of overlap among them.
So, while I read as many as possible, I don’t review them all. This one, however, is worth reviewing, and worth reading, too. This is a good general introduction to social media for business for organizations of all sizes, clear enough for beginners and specific enough for the marketing department.
Social media books often veer to one extreme of expertise or the other, making it sound as though one person with a friendly fan page can make a fortune in a weekend or focusing intently on multivariate testing for high budget campaigns. Neither approach really gives a good introduction to social media for business.
Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media tells you how important social media is (“If you’re not social, it’s like you’re not even there”) and that you should be authentic, but it also gives strategic advice from planning your message, to getting buy-in at your company, to gaining your platforms, to hiring a community manager, to measuring the ROI of your efforts.
The book is conversational, with lots of case studies and “guest posts” as well as plenty of hard data. Goldman is an expert in the field, and has the relaxed approach to the information that experts can take, so the experience of the reading the book is almost like sitting down with a social media expert and hearing inside stories you can learn from.
One of the reasons I really like the book is that it’s honest. Goldman’s success stories feature companies that have spent years building on a robust content strategy, not hypothetical overnight successes. They show a wide range of approaches, not a Secret Method. He talks about ways of getting Likes at Facebook, but points out that most people who Like a page never return to it — you have to have a plan for how to follow up on those contacts, he says, rather than just getting Likes to make yourself look good. Goldman also points out that a perky social media presence won’t actually make up for bad customer service or problems with the product.
This is not an instruction book; if you don’t know how to sign up for LinkedIn now, you won’t know after you read this book. Instead, Goldman focuses on the good advice you may not easily find elsewhere. For example, the section on creating video content discusses why you might want to do that, what level of quality you need, why editing matters, the difference between social video and a commercial, the necessity for a distribution strategy, and a couple of very good examples of companies that have used video in social media well. It’s like a list of the errors companies usually make when they decide to move into YouTube, and how not to make them.
This is an enjoyable read, and it could be an excellent starting point for your thinking about social media.
[Disclosure: The publisher of this book sent me a copy for review. I am not paid for reviews, and you know I always tell you the truth.]