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Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Time Event
3:32p
Social Media re-writing the marketing rulebook ...
This is another book sent out to me by the good folks at Wiley. Since I've been in the Social Media arena for quite a while (in various permutations, both professionally and personally), I've seen many books from them, this being a niche in which they're quite active. As regular readers know, I also write a job-search blog over on the Chicago Tribune's “ChicagoNow” site, The Job Stalker, which features stories from my own (now 20-month-old) job search, tips and tricks I've amassed from previous job searches, materials that I've found via Twitter, etc., and book reviews that I find “on target” for that audience. I bring this point up because it was only now, sitting down to write this review, that it really occurred to me that David Meerman Scott's book Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now is specifically a book addressing businesses, rather than individuals … my confusion no doubt coming from my own immersion in “marketing & PR” and the social media field. This is going to involve some “tap dancing” on Monday, where I've slated a blog post on this over there!

I realized part way through this that I've been following Scott on Twitter (@dmscott) for a while, so had a certain familiarity with him, even though I'd not read his previous books (and he has some fascinating ones, such as Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead). In this volume he endeavors to re-define the business use of Social Media and its various forms as “Real-Time” efforts. The book starts with the iconic case of the viral video “United Breaks Guitars” in which a band, whose guitars were trashed in transit by United Airlines (you didn't see that coming, did you?), had run through all the “official channels” for complaint resolution, hit a brick wall, and resorted to music and the internet to make a statement. Almost everybody who “lives on the web” has seen this video at this point … what is notable here is how Scott tracks the dynamics of the data for the spread of this video, both on YouTube and on various blogs talking about it, quantifying the “viral” of its spread. On top of this, he brings up factors that were new to me, about how both the maker of the broken guitars in question, and a maker of guitar cases, reacted within hours to take advantage of the buzz by affiliating themselves with the aggrieved party, while the “dinosaur” corporation took nearly two months to make a substantial response. The rest of the book lays out what needs to be done, what tools are out there, and how these tools can best be applied to a wide spectrum of emergencies and opportunities as they happen.

Real-Time Marketing & PR is laid out in three sections, “Revolution Time” which looks at all the elements of the Social Media and web world, how these can affect one's business, and how one can deal with them; “Connect With Your Market” which, not surprisingly, shows how to reach out to one's assorted audiences and make the “real-time” connection with them; and “Grow Your Business Now” which shows ways to make these connections turn into sales, etc. The book is filled with specific examples, both good and bad, from real-life situations that companies have faced, and these are sufficiently gripping that I never noticed that I was reading a “business book”!

Much of what @dmscott focuses on here is how large companies (such as United) have to have substantial cultural shifts to be able to successfully work in “real-time” situations. These days things can get significantly out of control if they're not immediately dealt with (a recent example is how Taco Bell defused the “35% beef” meme with a counter-message detailing the actual, 88%, content of their products). It requires putting a LOT of trust and responsibility in the hands of “front line” people who can “make things right” now, not after six levels of meetings, and word back from the lawyers. Obviously, huge corporations can't become small flexible start-ups, but they can develop structures where small, flexible, teams have the ability to act that way, and strategies for this are outlined here.

Real-Time Marketing & PR is brand new (it's been out since November, despite its 2011 copyright notice), and so should be at your local book vendor that carries business books. It is also currently at a fairly deep discount at Amazon (48% off!) which makes it the best bet for the moment. Again, this is a book for businesses, but it's also a very good read for individuals who are in (or want to be in) the social media “real-time” sphere. I enjoyed this very much, and look forward to catching up with other of Scott's books, and would recommend this to anybody with an interest in this area!


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