Friends with Benefits is the name of Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo’s handbook on Social Media Marketing. The couple and business partners (they run Capulet Communications out of Vancouver, BC) were inspired to write this book while on a three month adventure in Morocco in 2008. Immersing themselves in a new culture and challenging themselves to communicate with their wits, a little help from a phrase book and the realization that language in fact is not a barrier to surviving in an unknown land. Fast forward two years and the couple have composed a guide to navigating the social media landscape in the same vein they made their exotic travels a success.
As a person who has been using social networks and the blogosphere for many years, building an online business, I found the book insightful, their anecdotes amusing, and the book’s scalability refreshing. This is a book that is suitable for marketers who are looking to understand and plan the best possible use cases for social media marketing, and equally inspiring to those who have been using social media in their marketing strategies but are perhaps looking take audience engagement to the next level and improve ROI.
What stood out the most for me in the book are the following principles:
1. Social media marketing needs to be part of an integrated marketing strategy. A holistic approach to reaching your audience means that using social networks and the blogosphere should compliment other marketing channels - and not simply be the only channel. Or worse, be inconsistent with the messaging of a large scale campaign.
2. Pick the right genre of social media marketing to target your audience. Your audience may not be on Facebook, more likely they may be on LinkedIn, or they may connect with you better through your blog.
3. Social media marketing is generally the most cost effective spend of your marketing dollars, because short of an Internet connection, it is essentially free. Well, not exactly, what it lacks in actual dollars spent it more than makes up for in time necessary to invest in being effective. The value in social media marketing is entirely based on what you put into it. And determining that level of time commitment needs to be realistic to what your business can afford in labour power.
Julie and Darren will be in Calgary running their Social Media Marketing Bootcamp on Friday, October 8th, 2010 at the Hotel Le Germain. I encourage you to register for the event, get a social media workout, or at the very least buy their book!