What do small businesses Brendan’s Irish Pub and Butter Lane have in common with big brands Old Spice and Starbucks? According to Eric Harr, author of “The Real Truth About Social Media: Confessions of a Social Media CEO“, these names “get it” when it comes to engaging their audiences when it comes to social media.
Harr, an Emmy-nominated CBS TV host and founder and CEO of boutique social media agency Resonate Social Media, puts together in his book a compilation of various “secrets to social media success” aimed at helping businesses, big or small, navigate through the pitfalls of engaging customers online. And while much of Harr’s credibility comes from helping many of his agency’s clients, at least he’s honest – Harr readily concedes, in the introduction of the book, that much of the material within “The Real Truth About Social Media” will seem basic to experienced social media strategists, and is more targeted at business owners who want to start embracing social media. And many social media practitioners will probably point out that much of the book’s content is readily available online somewhere on the interwebs (Dell Hell, for example, is a tired, over-used case study).
Still, Harr does a credible job in aggregating and compiling the most valuable lessons and case studies for the business owner looking to get their feet wet in the social media space. He breaks down examples and case studies into actionable insights – set great KPIs such as “Boost online sales by 15%” instead of merely good ones like “increase web traffic”, for example – for easy reading and implementation. What I actually found valuable, personally as a social media enthusiast, was at the end of the book – the appendices! There’s recommended reading, and useful guides such as a social media policy template, a “success toolkit” and even a Hall of Fame of companies that’s done social media well.
Should you rush out and buy this book? If you’re already an experienced practitioner, probably not (although it might be good to buy it for potential clients). If you’re a business owner who hasn’t started venturing into social media and needs just that little bit convincing to dip your toes and start engaging your customers online? Definitely yes.
I recently finished reading Eric Harr’s energetic new book, “The Real Truth About Social Media: Confessions of a Social Media CEO.” The book details how the social media revolution has permanently changed the dynamic of modern communications and the theories behind why businesses should embrace the shift to help modernize their strategies and tactics to match the shifting tide of customer culture.
I found it to be an excellent summary of the core social media ideals that businesses should understand and adopt to help their transition into a communications era that is widely considered essential to thrive in for business. The book is mainly geared towards skeptics, naysayers and those reluctant to try social media, help them understand just how important the platform is to leverage and how it simply can’t be classified as a “passing phase.”
I immediately became enchanted with Eric’s approach after he mentions Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as the foundation of his principles and purpose early in the preface, a book that I myself rank in the top three of all time best business books ever written. Eric sought to write a book that would resonate with readers years after its release and not become outdated as quickly as new social media platforms and philosophies can sometimes come and go.
Eric starts the book by outlining what are perhaps the most important social media channels for businesses to explore and connect with – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogging, and company Web sites. What I like about his review of each channel is that he mixes in real life success stories of companies and individuals who have successfully capitalized on these channels to grow their business or broadcast their message to the world. He also mixes in business and personal actionable insights after each platform summary which offers tangible steps to establish a presence on each channel and how to effectively get results. Eric deftly points out in one section at the beginning of the book:
“Social media as a form of communication is not only tectonic, it’s timeless. While the specific platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) may be ephemeral (just look at Friendster and MySpace), the technology itself is enduring.”
In the next section of his book, Eric intelligently outlines what businesses stand to gain (brand awareness, customer service, word-of-mouth marketing, customer loyalty, engaging evangelists, countering critics, market research, free publicity, and driving sales) vs. what they stand to risk (time, money, market share and relevance) by jumping into the social media arena.
His arguments are strong and once again mix in actual business case studies helping to articulate his points and prove his assertions that businesses simply can’t afford to sit back play the “wait and see” game with this new super-charged communication opportunity.
Eric then dedicates the rest of the book to debunking 8 myths about social media and offering 8 timeless truths that counter the preconceived notions that most have about using it to cultivate their business. His truths are well laid out, for example he dedicates a chapter to trusting data as the beacon for action, measurement, and adjustments in social media policies and procedures instead of relying solely on instinct and gut reactions. He also touches on the power of listening vs. using social media as a megaphone and the importance of transparency when engaging with customers and creating content for community consumption.
Overall, I found this book to be a very easy read and chock full of meaningful insights and real life examples of social media successes and failures to help demonstrate the power and relevance of the medium. The most meaningful insights that I derived from the book can be encapsulated by the following points:
Social media as a viable communication platform is here to stay. It is not a passing fad. Embrace it or be left out in the cold while your competitors reap the rewards.
Social media requires a significant investment of time and resources. If you can’t allocate each of these, it’s not prudent to get involved.
Don’t define social media as a way to secure earned media. Define it is a way to build and nurture relationships.
“Begin with the end in mind,” as Eric points out. Make sure before you dive into the world of social media that you have a strategy in place and you clearly define your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). Measure the “metrics that matter.”
Understand the permanency of social media. Once something is said, it can’t be taken back.
Social media is built upon the laws of reciprocity.
Never underestimate the power of an individual. Isn’t that right United Airlines?
Don’t just create content. Create awesome content that moves people to act. Just ask Blendtec.
Transparency is paramount in the social media world. If you can’t adopt a transparent approach, modern culture is astute enough to figure out who you really are in about 5 seconds.
Since the book mainly focuses on core social media fundamentals, strategies and platforms, I don’t think seasoned social media pros can glean much new insight from this book as much as anyone interested in participating that has yet to jump in.
The REAL TRUTH About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths and 8 Monumental Truths is a new book by Eric Harr.
Harr is a best-selling author, Emmy-nominated CBS-TV host and the founding editorial director of VIV Magazine, the world’s first mass-market digital magazine. He is a world-class professional triathlete and his books include “Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week,” “The Portable Personal Trainer” “Goal Digger Fitness: Look, Feel, and Perform Your Best with a Breakthrough 14-Day Exercise Plan” and “Ride Fast: Get Up to Speed on Your Bike in 10 Weeks or Less.”
The REAL TRUTH About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths and 8 Monumental Truths describes the best way for people of all ages to go about a social media campaign and is filled with the latest research, actionable insights, case studies, valuable templates and simple tips.
“The REAL TRUTH” is a compilation of the secrets to social media success. Harr shares invaluable lessons – and painful mistakes – forged from thousands of hours of in-the-trenches work over the years with dozens of his agency’s clients from small businesses to multinational corporations.
Another Baby Boomer
I was sent a copy of the book “The Real Truth About Social Media” by Eric Harr. Overall I found this book to be an easy read and full of real life examples of social media successes and failures.
Since the book mainly focuses on core social media fundamentals, strategies and platforms, it is not a book for someone who is experienced in social media, but those those who are relatively new to social media, this is a good buy.
There is a lot of information and insights in the book and some the best points I found were:
- Social media as a viable communication platform is here to stay. It is not a passing fad. Embrace it or be left out in the cold while your competitors reap the rewards.
- Social media requires a significant investment of time and resources. If you can’t allocate each of these, then don’t get involved.
- “Begin with the end in mind,” as Eric points out. Make sure before you dive into the world of social media that you have a strategy in place and you clearly define your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). Measure the “metrics that matter.”
- Understand the permanency of social media. Once something is said, it can’t be taken back.
- Don’t just create content. Create awesome content that moves people to act.
- Transparency is paramount in the social media world. If you can’t adopt a transparent approach, modern culture is astute enough to figure out who you really are in about 5 seconds.
My favorite part of the book by far was the real life examples of social media successes and failures. Sometimes social media can seem abstract to new people to the space and it was great reading about successful campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIN. Also because the book is newly printed I was able to find the campaigns that the author Eric Harr was talking about to actually see them in action
You can find the book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and is worth adding to your holiday wish list.
-Review: Social Media Optimization
I don’t often do book reviews here. Which is odd, I suppose. If you saw my office, one of the first things you’d be struck by is the fact that my feng isn’t even close to my shui due to the fact that the overall number of books threatens the very integrity of the structure in which I work. Sometimes I think one more book will give me an experience like Tom Hanks had when he and Shelly Long added a little more water to the bathtub in The Money Pit: The whole deal will go crashing through the floor.
But when I received an email back in August offering me a free copy of Eric Harr’s “The Real Truth About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths Revealed and 8 Monumental Myths Uncovered,” I couldn’t resist. A free book. About, as the email described, “the best way to go about a social media campaign … [it's] filled with the latest research, actionable insights, case studies, valuable templates and simple tips.”
Why wouldn’t I risk a Money Pit moment and add the book to my collection? After all, I’ve been doing this social media thing for a long time, so it seemed like a good opportunity to measure my own insights, case studies, tips and tricks against the author’s own. Besides, at the time I was in the midst of developing a presentation called “Dissecting Social Media: Tools, Tips and Truths No One Else Wants To Tell You,” so clearly there was some interesting mojo in the air that couldn’t be ignored.
Next thing I know, it’s three months later and the publicist who sent me my free book, bless her heart, has emailed me so many times to see if I need anything else to assist in my review, my Jewtheran guilt is becoming unbearable. The problem, though, is I haven’t read 100% of the book all the way through (hardly ever a prerequisite for reviewing a book, of course). However, I have picked it up often and read significant chunks of it here and there and now and again.
So while part of me wants to just hold off and go back and read the whole thing start to finish, another part of me says, “oh, just get it over with, already.” Which I’m doing, and which I suppose makes sense, because this isn’t the type of book you have to read from start to finish all the way through (though at just under 120 pages that’s not a difficult proposition, either). You can open to any page and spend a few minutes reading it during lunch and pick up some pithy truth about social media that’s bound to serve you well at some point in the months ahead.
The problem, though, is that for those of us who live and work online, these pithy truths are all around us. Which is not to say that it’s a bad thing to get back to basics and be reminded about those truths. As we all scramble to make a buck, can it really be said too often that social media isn’t about media, it’s about relationships? Probably not.
Another problem is that any book about social media is necessarily dated by the time it hits print. For example, Harr notes that “Facebook is fast approaching 800 million users.” Fast isn’t fast enough: That number is already in the rear-view mirror, with a billion users the expected milestone in 2012.
Probably the biggest challenge for anyone writing a book about social media is to decide on the answers to two fundamental questions: Who is the audience for the book? How much knowledge about social media should the author assume the typical audience member has?
Harr has written a book that is great for the C-suite executive who has read his or her share of articles about social media in general and wants to dig deeper into what makes social media tick. Where the book shines brightest is where he discusses the major social media platforms and distinguishes the shiny objects (a “like” on Facebook or a follower on Twitter or a view on YouTube) from the metrics that matter–and provides ways to measure those metrics along with actionable insights.
Anyone who has had to deal with someone who asks, “how come we don’t have more likes to our Facebook page?” should give a copy of this book to that someone with these pages highlighted.
Probably the biggest criticism I could level against the book isn’t related to content, but to layout. The nature of the book lends itself to a better use of things like shaded panels, bold headings, indented paragraphs and so on that, if used far more thoughtfully than is in evidence here, could work much better with the content to make it all the more attractive and readable. There’s some use of these elements, but not much.
The real truth about The Real Truth… is that if you’ve been working in social media for any significant amount of time, much of the content will be familiar to you. However, if you have clients or coworkers (especially C-level bosses) who don’t know their Tumblr from their Flickr, you could do much, much worse than to give them this book as their introduction to what social media is and how is ought to be approached.
By the way, I’d like to add a footnote to the fourth “monumental myth,” that “there’s a sucker born every minute.” While P.T. Barnum doesn’t get named till the following chapter, my many years of working with many circuses compel me to note that Barnum himself never said “there’s a sucker born every minute.” (Here’s the actual story.) Also, as an early signatory to The Cluetrain Manifesto, I vigorously applaud that the book (which is available to read in its entirety over here) is number one in the recommended reading appendix.