Book Review: No BS Social Media

Jason Falls and Erik Decker. No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. Indianapolis: Que, 2012. 253 pages.

This book, with a word that you still can’t say on the radio in its title, is certainly trying to be provocative. Beneath the swagger, though, there’s an intelligent, well-conceived manifesto for why social media matters today and how to do it correctly.No Bullshit Social Media

No Bullshit takes as its starting point that you, the reader, are working–maybe in marketing, but also maybe in public relations, advertising, or customer service-for a business¬†that has been slow to get on the social media bandwagon. If you’ve picked up the book, you’re a little curious, at least, about how social media works and whether to get involved. Still, there are others in the organizations–including those you report to–who aren’t convinced that social media is relevant. This book will give you the arguments you need to convince them,

By the same token, if you own your own business, this book will tell you what you already know: that you need to embrace social media, not for fuzzy reasons like “community building,” but because it will help your bottom line. The book gives you some tools to diagnose just what you need to invest to make social media work, and what you should expect to get out of it.

Obviously, a 250-page book written by two guys you’ve never met isn’t going to give you a full blueprint for how to manage Twitter and Facebook on a day-to-day business. But it does explain how you can set realistic objectives and how you can evaluate your progress towards them.

There are three parts to the book. The first explains just what social media marketing–which is more focused than plain old social media–is. The second explains how it works, and considers the question of ROI (return on investment) from several angles. The main point here is that in some ways it’s possible to measure social media marketing ROI in very focused ways (click-throughs), while in others it isn’t. That’s OK, though, because traditional marketing’s ROI, it turns out, isn’t easy to quantify either.

The third section of the book explains how to get started, in necessarily broad brush strokes. Again, you won’t see an org. chart or a social media policy widget that you can plug into your business here: just the tools for you to build your own.

No Bullshit Social Media is focused and filled with useful statistics and anecdotes that make a strong case for social media marketing. Throughout, the tone is a bit blustery for my taste (using words like “ass” and “suck” more than most business books), but the common-sense, real-world focus is a plus. It’s ironic that a book with “no hype” in its subtitle takes great lengths to demonstrate how bullshit-free it is–which, in my book, is a form of hype. It’s kind of like the guy you work with who is genuinely talented but has a few¬†idiosyncrasies; if you can look past them and work with him, you’ll really be rewarded. It’s a really good guide to using social media marketing in real-world businesses.