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There’s a lot to like about The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki. (Although Peg Fitzpatrick is listed as a co-author, it seems that Guy did the actual writing – to avoid the dreaded disjointed feel of a grad school group project paper – while Peg contributed content and ideas.)
It starts off with the assumption that readers have a basic level of knowledge of social media in general and several platforms in particular: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Twitter. I found it refreshing that there weren’t countless pages used up by a tutorial on how to set up your Facebook page.
It’s also written and formatted for today’s business reader: short, with good use of white space, and formatting with bullets and numbered lists. I was able to finish the entire book within 24 hours by reading before bed and while commuting to several errands and appointments. As this is really the only kind of book I can read these days, I was very happy to get some takeaways that could help me out immediately without spending days and weeks digging through padding. I previously ready Guy’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
(which I reviewed here), and I really enjoy his writing style which is consistent, conversational, and informative.
The book starts with a helpful “Read This First” section and then is organized into 12 chapters: How to Optimize Your Profile, How to Feed the Content Monster, How to Perfect Your Posts, How to Respond to Comments, How to Integrate Social Media and Blogging, How to Get More Followers, How to Socialize Events, How to Run Google+ Hangouts on Air, How to Rock a Twitter Chat, How to Avoid Looking Clueless, How to Optimize for Individual Platforms, and How to Put Everything Together (which includes a great step-by-step plan for a book launch). There is also an alphabetical list of apps and services at the end (with links, if you have the ebook) and a thorough index.
There was a lot in the book that confirmed some of what I am doing already, and there was a lot that I learned. In particular, there were details about features on some of the platforms I don’t yet use or am less familiar with, as well as apps and add-on services to help with scheduling, sharing, analytics, etc.. The ebook is filled with links, which is great, and I look forward to referring back to it when I’m ready to dive deep into a particular platform or method. I was able to immediately see the impact of some of Guy and Peg’s suggestions, which strengthen their credibility even more. (For example, they recommend using pictures in your Twitter posts. I responded to Guy’s post on Twitter seeking reviewers for the book because I saw the picture of the book cover and wanted to learn more. It’s highly unlikely I would have noticed the Tweet otherwise!)
It was a bit unclear to me who the intended audience of this book is, though. As a solopreneur, the advice to have separate business and personal accounts on each social platform seems… insane. (Who has time for that?) So I’m guessing I wasn’t the primary audience. On the other hand, there are several comments which suggest that it isn’t targeted at large companies who outsource their social media activities. Perhaps it’s for a marketing person at a mid-sized company? This isn’t a deal breaker, but I think being more clear about who the target audience is (besides “any person who has beyond beginner skills on any social media platform”) would help. For instance, if I knew the “real” audience was people working for corporations, I would make mental adjustments while reading to determine what recommendations might be relevant for solopreneurs. Instead I’m wondering what I can or should try to adapt from the practices that are shared.
There’s also no mention of costs for almost any of the apps or add-on services, or the cost of the time required for some of the “power user” frequency tips they suggest. Many of these ideas are financially out of the reach of a solopreneur, fledgling entrepreneur, non-profit organization, or even an established small business with small profit margins.
Finally, there’s a point where I’m not completely in agreement with them. Guy and Peg subscribe to the idea of having continuous content, primarily from other sources, flying out of your social media accounts at all times. (This is discussed most in the How to Feed the Content Monster chapter.) Although I do share content that isn’t my own on social media, I’ve recently been looking at the issue a bit more like Ralph Rivera from Web Search Social. I heard him speak on Cynthia Sanchez‘s Oh So Pinteresting podcast (Episode 069: Is Your Social Media Content Curation Just Noise) and later read his blog posts, “In Which I Discuss Why Content Curation For Marketing Sucks” and “Today’s Marketing Lesson: ‘Get To The Choppa’.” I’m not sure that constant sharing of the content of other people is always the right move for promoting your own brand. Perhaps for someone like Guy, who has made a career out of marketing for major brands (while not looking like he’s marketing for major brands), this strategy works. But I’m not sure it works for me as a content-producing solopreneur when my brand is essentially me and my content.
There are a lot of great ideas in this book, and I’m sure that even some “power users” on some platforms will learn tips for optimizing other platforms. I don’t think you have to agree with all of Guy’s assertions. In fact, he recommends that you “be curious” and “field-test common generalizations” because “[e]veryone’s follower’s are different.” Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who uses social media regularly for business or professional reasons, with the understanding that you should adapt as appropriate for your situation.
Takeaways for yarn industry indies
If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner in the yarn industry, you probably won’t have the budget to follow Guy and Peg’s suggestions to become a power user across all the platforms. Be sure to customize (or selectively ignore) Guy and Peg’s recommendations to suit your business. They are definitely writing from a perspective of people who get paid to market, and have a substantial budget, not from the perspective of an indie directing their own social media content. This doesn’t mean that their recommendations aren’t solid or adaptable, but it does mean that you need to think through any strategies or tactics that you find through the book before adopting them wholesale.
I still recommend reading the book, since you may learn a lot about lesser-known features of each of the platforms covered while being introduced to some useful third party services and apps. In particular, I learned a lot about Tweet chats, integrating your blog with your social media activities, and content aggregators. I was also introduced to a few features on each social media platform that I’m already using.
I would recommend the ebook version, as I see the links to tutorials and apps as a big part of the book’s value. Since time is at a premium for most of us, having the tips and tutorials consolidated into a brief, well organized book is probably worth more to the success of our businesses than spending hours (or days, or weeks) researching the information on our own.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the author and publisher via NetGalley. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.