Book Review: Social Media Is Bullshit

ImageComedian and author Brandon Mendelson carries the burden of 762,697 followers on Twitter like that of a tortured artist. As he mentions countless times in his book, back in the day of Twitter’s suggested followers page, Mendelson had the chutzpah to ask Twitter to support his cause against cancer as a fledgling social media user and as such, Twitter bequeathed Brandon the gift of exposure, handing him the equivalent of a perpetual Yahoo home page ad , rocketing him to bot notoriety in the process.

His platform of social media relevance secured, Brandon set out to burst the social media balloon in his aptly titled book “Social Media Is Bullshit” through dispelling the urban mysteries behind such cultural phenomenons such as Twitter’s rise to relevance via SXSW, or Justin Bieber being a legitimate internet discovery. Taking an acidic tone through 80% of his prose, Mendelson pulls absolutely no punches in his quest to make certain the reader understands that the very fabric of what makes social media so enticing to marketers – especially those who own small and medium size businesses – is both a fountain and tomb. That the ROI one may see from a Fortune 50 through social media endeavors more than likely has other aspects of media incorporated into a singular campaign, such as paid media to help amplify performance. 

While Mendelson could have come off sounding like Phil Mushnick at a Vince McMahon charity event, I actually felt an underlying layer of sincerity in his desire to assure SMB’s avoid the pitfalls and traps set by the carpetbaggers (or Cyber Hipsters as he refers to them) of the industry.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Brandon wrote a book I’d recommend to everyone. While I selfishly enjoyed his overly-honest assessment of social media professionals (and their reactions on the Amazon review page), and I too have felt the sting of watching not just a campaign, but an entire start up endeavor sink to oblivion, I’m not certain I agree 100% with the message Social Media Is Bullshit offers. Mendelson essentially tells his readers to simply avoid social networking as part of a marketing plan. That Twitter seems “okay” but LinkedIn is a dead zone. Oh and don’t get him started on Facebook. Most importantly he wants you to believe that the big corporate social media accounts are not patterns mom and pops should follow.

The real message needs to be that if you’re a marketer, big or small, don’t put 100% of your eggs into earned media, which is something I’ve seen countless times. Diversify plans, and expect to heavy up investment into paid advertising. Learn to optimize your messaging – the copy you may use on a Facebook post could inspire the copy used via SEM.

What I hoped to read was that the days of your social media guru telling you that sharing is caring are over. $150.00 classes on Google+ for business are as good as equity in pets.com because the “awareness” chapter of social media has indeed closed. 

Social Media should not be horded within a single entity. Nor would I look at Social Marketing as an avenue that can live autonomously from the larger marketing ecosystem.

I think Brandon would concur.

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One thought on “Book Review: Social Media Is Bullshit”

  1. Hmm…While I tend to look askance at biz books/authors who position themselves as polemicists (“edgy” marketing at its most annoying), it’s hard to knock the central thesis as stated…more and more soc. media, in its present incarnation, is starting to look like the CB radio fad of the ’70s, really; the boredom is palpable among people of my acquaintance, most of whom are just waiting for a suitable next before ditching their various accounts. But the problem, it seems to me, has more to do with the practitioners than the medium: The locusts descended in record time, and precious few proffered anything much of value, either to clients or end-users. I think there’s still opportunity/potential hanging out there – but it’ll take a bit more in the vision department to make full use of it.

    Good review, and thanks for clueing me in to a book I’ll have to check out.

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