John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing has written a little eBook called, “Let’s Talk: Social Media for Small Business.” You can go to that link and find out how to download it instantly and without registration.
I loved the book from several aspects, and had a few criticisms. Let’s start with the love.
I think the vehicle is great when you have a lot to say to your audience and want to do so in a way that delivers value to them in exchange for their giving you their attention to read your work. It’s short at 23 pages and has a fun approachable tone that makes the reading even more fun, which is a good thing. Anyone can read through it quickly. And, it’s super easy to get your hands on a copy.
The only trick he missed to making it truly viral is you do have to go to a Microsoft site to download it. The folks at Rally Development use a content-rich marketing approach and place all of their similar materials under a Creative Commons license so, “we share it, and we let others use it for their own businesses so long as they don’t compete with us.”
What about the contents of the book itself? Lots of good stuff there. The book proceeds through a sort of “Social Maslow Needs Hierarchy” that purports to show how to go about engaging with the Socialsphere. At the bottom is the most-used foundation, blogging. This proceeds up through RSS feeds, Social Serach, Social Bookmarking, Social Networks, and finally into Micro, where things like Twitter and FriendFeed dwell.
I guess all things (at least in the Western World) benefit from an organizational framework to put it all into perspective, and this book is no exception. My complaint about this particular framework is it focuses to much on an approach to Social Media that is skewed towards old-fashioned marketing. In other words, it focuses almost entirely on outbound messaging rather than conversation. I am fond of the notion (brought to me by Seth Godin), that old style marketing is about shouting your message at the customer, while Social Marketing is about having a conversation with the customer. Certainly you can have a conversation with a blog, but it’s not a level playing field and as Social Media goes, it is therefore closer to that old style shouting idiom.
Lots of other good tidbits along the way though. I particularly liked the idea that marketing with Social Media is about the 4 C’s:
Tons of relevant education-based, and perhaps user generated Content that is filtered, aggregated, and delivered in a Context that makes it useful for people who are starving to make Connections with people, products, and brands they can build a Community around.
Now that’s a solid foundation, and I prefer it to the Maslow Pyramid. There is reason to believe, BTW, that Jantsch’s pyramid is as much a function of giving small business a road map of what they can succeed at more easily than in showing them the ideal of where they need to wind up. Maslow’s hierarchy is, after all, about stages of need in accordance with ability to need based on what has been achieved.
The blogging section is good, though there are a couple of missing pieces I intend to write about over time. I’ve been giving a talk around Silicon Valley to various companies that want to get started blogging and I’ll likely present that talk as a series of blog posts here. By the time you finish with blogging, you’re halfway through the book.
RSS is next, and then Jantsch launches into Social Search. These are sites that rate small businesses. This is followed by bookmarking and the two together take little space. Last up is Social Networking with an emphasis on Facebook and Linked in.
But what about owning your own community of customers? What about giving customers a place to communicate with each other? What about trying to be a Best Practices Destination Community for your industry, local geography, or whatever Tribe (in Seth Godin’s terms) you are choosing to create? I see those as the places where you really start to leverage Social Media, quit shouting your message, and quit just trying to draft on other communities.
Perhaps there is a volume 2 in Jantsch’s series coming.