Social Media Marketing for Dummies: Book Review

This is my first experience reading a book in the Dummies series.  It’s also important to point out that I’m writing this review from the perspective of someone who is very familiar with social media and practices social media communications.  Therefore, I’m offering my opinion on whether or not the book instructs people the way I would instruct them, as beginners of Social Media Marketing.

I’m happy to report that Social Media Marketing For Dummies by Shiv Singh does a good job in the education department.  Two thumbs up for a book that is focused and really pinpoints an easy and understandable approach for those individuals who are just starting out and want to learn how to effectively participate in the social sphere.

Now, here’s my disclosure:  I am a Pearson Education author and Financial Times published my last couple of books.  I also have to let everyone know that Wiley approached me to write this review, and sent me the book free of charge.  Nonetheless, I hope that I’m able to provide you with the highlights or best parts of the book and as well as points of difference.

There are many reasons why I like Social Media Marketing For Dummies:

  • The book never strays from teaching readers the best approach to Social Media Marketing or Social Influence Marketing (which are used interchangeably by the author).
  • Social Media Marketing for Dummies provides a broad overview but also digs into details.  For example, one of my favorite parts of the book is Chapter 3, “Getting in the Social Influence Marketing Frame of Mind.” This chapter breaks down the Social Media Marketing Funnel or the stages a consumer goes through during the purchasing process (Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Action and Loyalty) and how you can use social media marketing in each one of the stages to enhance the process.
  • Singh gives helpful hints or a “Tip” identified with a bulls eye icon and “Warning” messages, which are easily recognized with a bomb icon.  These icons appear in every chapter.  For example, with respect to establishing a social influence marketing voice (SIM Voice) in Chapter 5, he says as a Tip, “Sometimes the best way to discover whether you need a SIM voice is by scanning the conversations about your brand across the social web.” And, he points out as a bomb icon Warning in the same chapter, “If you do offer discounts and special promotions, you must be prepared to redeem them.”
  • The author helps the reader to understand that social media marketing is very different than branding and the social influence marketing (SIM) voice varies from that of the people communicating in the brand voice.  He also provides a very helpful chart to show the differences between the two voices.
  • Singh does a very good job discussing how to work with new influencers, how to find them (I especially like how much the author refers to the importance of listening first), learn more about them, and most importantly how to interact with them.
  • Other favorite chapters include Chapter 9 on “Practicing SIM on your Web Site,” Chapter 12 on “Energizing Employees within Your Company for Social Influence,” (I’m a huge advocate of teaching employees the value of social media and creating a culture of participation), and Chapter 13, “Applying Metrics to the SIM Realm” (the author points out that social influence marketing is just as measurable as other forms of marketing).
  • In my opinion, if you’re a beginner reading this book, you will not feel lost in the chapters.  It’s very easy to understand the big picture and take actionable steps to accomplish a social media marketing campaign. The author also points out how social influence marketing can fit into other marketing efforts and/or how it integrates with other areas of marketing and branding.

Now, here are a couple of parts of the book where my opinion differs. Of course, my perspective comes from my own personal participation in the social sphere as a communications professional.

The author states, “Some of the social influence marketing philosophies are in conflict with traditional public relations …” I believe that this statement appears to be true, only if you look at the sole function of public relations as media relations; where the shift of consumer behavior from mainstream media to new influencers lessens the PR professional’s role.  In this case, then public relations is interacting less with traditional media for a credible third party endorsement.  However, public relations is not synonymous with media relations and is focused on building relationships with an organization’s public (many different groups, in addition to the media), making social influence marketing an important part of our communication roles and responsibilities.

In the chapter on the SIM voice, Shingh states, “Establishing a SIM voice may appear in conflict with brand and public relations objectives…” He also says that the people closest to the brand or brand communication, in most cases, the PR department may not be the best choice for the social media voice of the company.  There could be a conflict between the SIM voice and the brand voice. Although he later states how the PR manager can take the social media lead role, he has already cast doubt on the PR professional’s participation in this manner.

I find that social media allows anyone and everyone to show their openness and humanness (from the CEO and the CMO to the PR department and customer service).  Through social media, PR people, just like anyone else have the ability to take their marketing/PR hats off to become the people that they want to reach.  Public relations has taken its lumps over the years regarding brand communication and broadcast messaging. I believe social media changes all of these stereotypical opinions and makes it possible for us to engage on behalf of clients/brands in a unique, human and transparent way.  Those were my two biggest points of difference with respect to public relations and social media marketing.

Overall, the book is really good, and I would recommend it to individuals who are about to take their first steps in social media marketing and for those who are looking for a helpful resource that’s easy to understand.