A Social Media Marketing Primer

A particular point of pride in my tenure as the editor of this publication is how many of ClickZ’s columnists, most of whom had never written a thing before their musings graced this Web site, have moved on to become successful book authors: Bryan Eisenberg, Pete Blackshaw, Len Ellis, Jason Burby, Mike Grehan (the exception to the rule — his book came first), are just a few. And now, Dave Evans joins their ranks.

Dave just published Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, a 408-page tome that delves much further and deeper into the why, hows, and wherefore of social media marketing than his many columns on the topic.

Dave’s mission is an ambitious one. He wants his son to grow up in a non-interruptive world. Not a world in which readers, watchers, users, and browsers avoid advertising, but a world in which they don’t have to, because marketing has become entirely voluntary content, part of everyday information consumption patterns.

And he sets an interesting as well as provocative benchmark for success in social media campaigns. Success, he writes, “is largely dictated by what others, outside of your direct span of control, think of you.”

Dave’s book is directed to newbies and social marketing pros alike. A helpful guide at the beginning recommends which chapters — and in which order — a reader should start with, or even skip over — depending on individual levels of expertise.

The book is chock full of best practices, exemplified by Evans’ very first step in creating any social marketing initiative: creating a disclosure plan. Plenty has been said and written about transparency, but in addition to calling out some of the more egregious offenders to transparency — and the subsequent fallout on brands such as Dell, Wal-Mart, and Edelman — Dave makes the common sense recommendation that disclosure be the foundation of social marketing.

He then takes the reader on a step-by-step journey through social media marketing, beginning with selecting channels, creating goals (Outreach? Listening?). To do so, Dave has created a series of assignments, with long lists of sites to visit and peruse. This isn’t just idle Web surfing. Formal exercises and worksheets accompany the reader on this journey. They’re provocatively qualitative, compelling the reader to actually do some thinking and analysis of what they’re seeing and doing on social media sites, as well as encourage brainstorming as to how this property or channel could be used to further business goals.

These exercises go way beyond the usual suspects: social networks and media sharing sites, into leveraging calendars, maps, mobile, and other services that don’t necessarily come up as top-of-mind in the social media landscape. Guaranteed, no matter how much of a social media veteran you are, you’ll going to come across at least five social platforms you’ve never heard of in this book.

Social Media Metrics

Even if you think you know it all when it comes to social media marketing, extraordinary sections on metrics and measurement make this book a must-have for marketers.

Step-by-step, and laden with examples and illustrations, Dave lays out how to select the right social media metrics, as well as how to connect them to the real world. He’s a strong advocate of baking metrics into campaigns and initiatives from the get-go (right after those all-important disclosure guidelines have been established). In addition to instructions for calculating different types of metrics, such as audience, relevance, purchase, impact, loyalty, engagement, and content, he also outlines how to calculate the ROI (define) of social marketing campaigns. All this is helpful not only in benchmarking success, of course, but also in making the case for launching social initiatives in the first place.

The book is rich in case studies and examples of social campaigns at all levels and budgets, ranging from behemoths such as IBM to sole proprietorships, as well as non-profits, such as The Brooklyn Museum. All the case studies, as well as the book in general, stress that social media complements and emphasizes existing marketing efforts, rather than replaces them.

And of course, Dave’s supporting the book with a blog,ReadThis.com.

If there’s any quibble with this excellent volume, it’s not against the author but rather the publisher.* Strewn throughout the text are interruptive “ads” for other books in the Hour-A-Day series. This comes across as hokey, as well as detracts from the very valuable content — not to mention Dave’s lofty mission on non-interruptive marketing.

*Addendum: Dave Evans, Social Media Marketing author, replies the book reviews were his — and not the publisher’s idea. “I strongly pushed it, thinking it would be useful to connect my readers with other related topics,” he explains. “In any event, I am responsible for this, not the publisher. Hey, disclosure and transparency starts with me, right!”

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