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Book Review: Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo

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Despite a provocative title that may indicate only a cursory look at the subject, Friends with Benefits is packed with useful information and advice for those marketers looking to use the power of the Internet, and in particular social media to promote their products and services.

It is important to first note that Friends with Benefits is aimed at marketers, which nowadays means more than those whose full-time profession is marketing. If you have a small business, a blog or just wrote a book, then you may find yourself (at least temporarily) in marketing. On the other hand, if you know very little about the Internet, this book is not for you. And if you have already spent years online Tweeting, digging, social bookmarking and sharing, then you may only pick up a few new tips from the 250+ pages.

Authors Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo start off the book with a quick historical recap, an overview of the current social media status quo and what you need to get started. I liked that the next chapter kicks off with an introduction to RSS which is the foundation of arguably the most important tools in your arsenal.

Among other things, Friends with Benefits discusses whether you should start a blog, and how to best do so; how to effectively reach out to the rest of the blogosphere and social communities; the dos and don’ts of social marketing; and how to measure success.

The authors were thorough enough to include a full chapter (that you hopefully will never have to make use of) on damage control. There have been more than a few infamous examples over the years of social marketing attempts gone awry and sometimes botched attempts by companies to either cover or mop it up. This chapter will help you to effectively deal with such an event.

Where Friends with Benefits will stand to use future revisions is in its dedicated chapters to specific sites including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As of the writing, there is no question that these communities are at the top of the heap and important to utilize in your marketing efforts, but this may not be the case a few years from now, potentially even six months from now.

It’s always useful to remember the dynamic nature of the Internet, and the authors do make a point of recommending that you keep abreast of the latest in social media developments. Wise advice.

Overall, Friends with Benefits is a pretty complete book on the subject, and I found that despite my years of immersion in the Web, blogging and social networking, I picked up quite a few new pointers. This is also another good example of how “dead tree” books can still be significantly more valuable than the freely available material online.

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About Khalid J Hosein

  • You’re welcome Julie. I’m impressed by the speed with which you are monitoring and keeping up to date with your own social media marketing. Well played!

  • Thanks for reading and reviewing our book Khalid. We’re delighted that you found some useful pointers in it.