BOOK REVIEW: Working the Crowd – Social Media Marketing for Business

I must admit that I went into reading “Working the Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business” (£14.99) with some trepidation. I just didn’t want to wade through another “how to” book full of generalizations and clichés.

Even after the first couple of chapters, I was skeptical. But as I continued to read the book, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. In the end, I found it very interesting.

Written in an easy to read format, the book highlights important concepts by shading the text and at the end of each chapter provides a summary in the form of a bullet point list.

The author covers an extensive range of social media topics, including how social media works, brief evaluations of tools and sites, how to find your audience and build your presence through influencers – hubs and routers, the use of metrics, as well as how to create buzz, viral campaigns and strategies to reach beyond your network.

It’s a rather comprehensive work that would appeal to the novice, perhaps those outside technical or marketing departments who are looking to better understand the social media hype, to more seasoned online marketers that want to further their knowledge and confirm their assumptions and hypotheses.

I think the book works best when it is describing specific steps around a given topic, describing examples and relaying the author’s personal experiences. The many examples throughout the book, such as those from Dell, Starbucks, Farmville and NASA, were very entertaining and offered compelling real-life stories of successes and failures.

In fact, the discussion of some of the social media disasters formed sections of the book that were downright page turners – unusual for a business book.

On the other hand, at times the author slips into some generalization, a bit of repetition and some unsupported assertion. But just when you think the coverage of a topic is too elementary, the author builds on the general foundation and adds higher-level advice, information and examples.

A recurring theme throughout the book is that the type of activities, networks and tools a business should use for social media depends on the goals and starting point of the organization. I think the same can be said of this book. What you get out of it will depend on to what degree you want to get a deeper understanding of the many aspects of social media.

So, would I recommend it? I can tell you this: I just ordered a copy for each of my corporate marketing team members. Happy reading.