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Book Review: The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg

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If you’re new to social networking, blogs, microblogging and you’ve never heard of “conversation marketing,” you need this book.

For businesses, successful social networking is about being fully immersed in listening to and talking to your constituents.

The New Community Rules encompasses the latest trends and tools in social networking, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter, as well as powerful advice on managing your brand’s reputation online.

While there is a lot to learn here, Weinberg presents her material in organized sections, rich with screen shots, examples and visual references. As she says: “… there are numerous tools that can help facilitate this kind of communication. If you’re a small-business owner, or even a member of a corporate entity, and are unfamiliar with this territory, there are many ways to dive in and become part of the conversation.”

What’s unique about The New Community Rules is Weinberg’s advice pertaining to developing a strategy before you proceed. Case studies in Chapter Four will help you understand how to participate in this worldwide global reach to customers without wasting money or making irretrievable mistakes. Weinberg identifies this area of “conversation marketing” as the biggest hurdle in effective social marketing.

Chapter Five on blogs provides some history and explains blogging platforms, etiquette, and style. The section on how to write for blogs and ideas for what to post to attract readers is invaluable. Read this and develop your content strategies before you begin to blog.

I’m a Twitter quitter, but Chapter Six lays a convincing case for using it, and using it well, to communicate your company’s message to your followers.

When you’re ready to advance, Weinberg devotes a chapter to other relevant sites to augment your marketing reach, and covers bookmarking sites. If all your followers bookmark your site in an online vehicle such as digg, delicious and stumbleupon, for example, and each one shares her information with 40 friends, who also share their information, well… it’s safe to say you’ll see some increased action as a result.

These sites are able to provide viral marketing, spread through the online community and they cross link with other sites. Your business can grow organically and exponentially if you know how to plant the seeds.

We almost wonder now how people ever found our websites before social networking. For many people who use programs like Facebook, the main benefit is to get noticed and to bring people to your web site. But your site is probably not instantly updated, interactive and easy to share and dialog. That’s the value of the social marketing sites: immediacy, to trigger conversations.

You won’t likely find a direct correlation to return-on-investment, but you can measure your success by increased dialog, more visitors and loyal followers. It takes discipline to build the marketing strategies that are right for you, but increased visibility and exposure are there for the taking. You’ll learn how to pull this off by adding value in your conversation marketing, not coming across as self-serving.

To reach digital savvy consumers, who’ve developed a lack of trust in media, you should be part of the social marketing wave. You may give up some control of your message by engaging in public dialog, but you will be part of it. In social media, the conversation will happen anyway, with or without you.

The New Community Rules is an excellent, well-researched compendium of sites and strategies to provide a full understanding of social networking

“The bottom line in social media marketing is about real, genuine relationships. Like any marketing channel, it takes time and effort to yield the best results,” says Weinberg.

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