Despite its airy title, Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans is anything but a lightweight treatment of this topic. At roughly 340 pages of text plus another 42 pages of worksheets, this is a meaty book, but the end result of following Dave’s hour-a-day guide is a solidly justified, strategic social media marketing plan. This isn’t a tactical, do-this-on-Facebook-and-then-that-on-Twitter type of roadmap either, but rather a sequence of exercises to explore, monitor, justify, plan and measure a social media program.
While many types of marketing and PR pros will find value in the book, it is aimed primarily at mid-level marketers (entry-level staff will lack the business acumen to pull this off, while senior executives will delegate it) at midsize to large organizations, possibly in b2b but more likely in the b2c space.
Author Dave Evans (@evansdave) once worked as a systems analyst for the Voyager deep space exploration program with the Jet Propulsion Laboratories/NASA. Yes, this really is rocket science. From there, as Strategy Director GSD&M IdeaCity, he developed integrated communications programs for clients like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Southwest Airlines, AARP, the PGA Tour, Chili’s and other big brands. Later, he founded his own marketing technology consultancy. He’s a ClickZ columnist, frequent speaker, and has served on advisory boards for ad:tech and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. In short, he’s an extremely smart guy, though with an analytics-heavy, big organization background that shows through in this book.
The book begins with a fascinating trip through the early days of the web and the foundations of social media. Evans reminds us that the web grew from approximately 6,000 sites in 1992 to one million websites by the mid-nineties. One million websites. How quaint that number now seems! (Google currently indexes more than 10 billion sites.) Spam email led to a consumer backlash over unwanted advertising and the rise of ad-voidance. Technologies such as the iPod, DVRs, pop-up blockers, do-not-call registries and spam filters have empowered consumers to take control over the commercial messages they see. Marketers can no longer rely on interrupting prospective customers in order to get their attention; they need to earn it by producing content that people want and then making that content findable when buyers are searching.
Evans also makes an incredibly strong case for social media participation: “Your customers are already talking about you. The fact that you aren’t participating is your implicit endorsement of whatever it is that they are saying…You cannot choose whether or not your customers will see you on the social web. They will, because they will put you there. You can only choose whether or not you will join them there.” By not participating in social media, you embolden your critics while ignoring your fans. Research shows that two out of three word-of-mouth conversations reference a brand, product or service—and these conversations are increasingly moving online through social media.
From there, Evans’ hour-a-day plan is laid out, starting with an exploration of the different forms of social content (blogs, video, podcasting etc.). consumer-generated media, touchpoint analysis, measurement and metrics, planning a campaign (ugh, social media campaign?), using branded social media platforms, and social media monitoring, wrapping it all up with preparing and presenting your social media plan. This makes the book an excellent guide to developing a social media plan and justifying resource allocation in a large organization environment, if somewhat short on actual execution.
There are a few questionable statements in the book. For one, Evans cites the notoriously anti-business Wikipedia as “an example of why social media is useful to you as a marketer.” At another point, the author advises readers to spend 5-10 minutes “surveying” YouTube and “if you’ve never transferred content from a digital camera to the Internet, take a break now and try it.” Uh, at this point, if you don’t know what’s on YouTube or how to upload a file, perhaps social media marketing isn’t your ideal career choice.
One risk of writing a book like this is the speed at which the social media landscape is changing; though Social Media Marketing came out less than two years ago, at the time of publication the now long-dead social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia was still active, and MySpace still drew five times as much traffic as Facebook.
He writes that participating in social media is essential for building trust with customers, then insists on developing robust ROI calculations for any social activity; which is it? The book focuses primarily on using social media to engage in brand conversations with consumers; certainly a critical application, but little acknowledgment is given to other uses of social media marketing including content sharing, media outreach and influencing the influencers. Evans claims that “there are so many good reasons to buy a hybrid other than pure fuel economy” without saying what any of those reasons are; perhaps the sporty styling? Finally, at one point, he actually recommends using an intern for social media data collection and metrics. Argh.
Still, quibbles aside, Evans is a sophisticated writer who brings great depth of insight his topic. He wisely notes that “on the social web, you can’t directly control the conversation. Instead, you influence it by setting an appropriate expectation and then delivering on it.” The book covers an incredibly wide range of social media sites, including some that many readers may not be familiar with. For those who haven’t read The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth, Evans provides a concise yet workable explanation of the Net Promoter Score developed by Fred Reichheld. The book is rich in case study examples from companies like Southwest Airlines and Harley Davidson. Noting the importance of active participation, Evans writes:
“The social web demands an active presence…if your profile isn’t up to date, if you’re not commenting, if you’re not making connections, you don’t exist. ‘Lights on, but no one home’ and you won’t get the results that you otherwise might. That seems obvious, but I point it out because I see a lot of profiles across a lot of social networks…evidently abandoned and now home to what look like virtual zombies taking up residence in so many empty storefronts.”
Regarding urgency: “Whether attracting and retaining key employees or attracting and retaining key customers, part of the challenge you face in tapping the social web is getting it done today.” While recognizing that measuring ROI from social media is challenging and requires skill and judgment, Evans provides a rich set of tools and models for keeping tabs on business results.
In short, Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day is an outstanding guide to social media program design and measurement for brand managers, product managers and marketing directors at any firm or organization large enough to have people talking about your brand online in significant numbers. Sole practitioners and managers at smaller companies can also get some value from it, but will generally be interested more in simplified planning with a greater emphasis on execution.