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Customer Review

211 of 228 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Socialnomics' Sounds Explosive, But Is a Dud, January 3, 2010
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This review is from: Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business (Hardcover)
Qualman insightfully advises companies to patiently build relationships with customers through social media, rather than instantly getting a customer's name and e-mail address into its database. "Good businesses realize that it's not all about the instant win of getting someone into a database," he says. "Rather it is cultivating that relationship via social media. If it's done correctly, you will have a relationship that lasts a lifetime." Throughout the book he tries, but doesn't quite succeed, to show how to "correctly" cultivate such relationships.

Another insight: He says on page 111 that marketers will need to create content (news, entertainment, and how-to information, for example) for their websites, not just advertising messages.

Unfortunately, insights like those are few and far between.

Qualman's platitudinous premise is stated in the introduction, and again in the conclusion:

"It's all about the economy, stupid. No, it's all about a people-driven economy, stupid. If anything, I hope that you have learned this from reading this book."

(In the introduction, Qualman explained that the phrase "It's the economy, stupid" was coined in 1992 by James Carville, Bill Clinton's campaign manager. Qualman merely "adjusted" that phrase to create the book's alleged premise.)

After reading the book, I still don't have the slightest idea how the "people-driven economy" differs from "the economy." Or what the adjusted phrase means.

This book is full of superficial anecdotes and miniscule case studies, platitudes and generalizations, unsupported opinions, idle speculation, specious claims, inconsistent style, imprecise language, typos, and bad punctuation.

In some of Qualman's examples, I couldn't tell whether the facts were real or hypothetical. In many of the micro-case studies, he shows how a company accomplished a certain objective through social media, but does not establish that the objectives could not have been accomplished more cost-effectively through other marketing channels.

He describes the case of Dancing Matt--about Matt Harding, who filmed himself dancing around the world and put his videos on YouTube. The videos were hugely popular, so Stride Gum sponsored his further travels and video production. Stride exercised restraint and placed its logo discreetly at the end of the video (in the post roll). Qualman claims Stride earned "millions of dollars in brand equity," but does not support that claim with any data or sources. Is it his own guesstimate, or did the company tell him it earned "millions"? No clue.

He claims that social media activities "connect parents to their kids like never before." He offers no source, data, or study to support that statement, and he is clearly not qualified to offer that opinion.

Regarding microblogging, he says, "What once took place only periodically around the watercooler [sic] is now happening in real time." Huh? What can be more real-time than water cooler conversations?

He says (on page 52) that micro-blogging functions as a kind of log that you can look back on--at the end of a day or week or month--and review your posts and updates. "It's extremely enlightening because it shows you how you are spending what precious time you have." Ah, yes, it's not only improving the way parents relate to their kids, it's therapeutic as well.

As a downside of social media, he says, Generation Y and Z [are having] difficulty with face-to-face conversations." No support for that claim. Is that his personal observation? He's a marketer, not a sociologist.

He says that staying connected, through social media, to the people who elected Obama president will be the "key to his success as president." The key!

He says social media "allows for a government to be more in tune with the country and to truly run as a democracy by stripping away the politics and getting to the core of what matters." Uh huh.

He recites marketing platitudes that have been true for decades or centuries, but treats them as though social media makes them especially true. An example: "Companies that produce great products and services...will be winners in the socialnomic world."

Here is an example of idle speculation. Qualman uses an example involving NBC's failure to put its 2008 Olympics coverage online in certain circumstances. "Most likely, NBC and their advertisers...were judging themselves using old metrics..." Sorry, you can't prove a point with a "most likely." Qualman could have contacted NBC's marketing department and asked them why they didn't. But that would have required real journalism.

Regarding the concept of network neutrality (although he doesn't use that phrase), Qualman says that if Internet service providers start charging for usage ("per stream") rather than a fixed monthly fee, that would be "malicious."

Qualman devotes almost five pages (perhaps the longest case study in the book) to the Scrabulous case, where the Agarwalla brothers created an online game similar to Scrabble, which they called Scrabulous and which attracted 500,000 daily users at its peak. Hasbro, owner of the Scrabble brand, issued a cease-and-desist letter and pushed Scrabulous off the web. Qualman excoriates Hasbro for being heavy-handed in the case, and he quotes several other marketing professionals who likewise criticize Hasbro for being short-sighted. Yet Qualman presents not a single quote or statement from Hasbro, nor does he speculate as to why Hasbro's believed its legal action was necessary.

I could go on, but you get the point.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 15, 2010 10:14:52 AM PDT
M. Rousset says:
Great Review! I got the same impression from watching the video... lots of hype... not a lot of content.

Posted on Jun 19, 2010 7:05:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2010 7:06:38 AM PDT
In the first paragraph of the introduction, Qualman writes "Just like social media itself, this book is written in sporadically digestible sound bites." This is all you need to know about this book.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2K31X6702IVLH/

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 10:16:00 AM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Feb 28, 2011 8:46:39 AM PST
Thank you for the review. You saved me from another unnecessary read.

Posted on Mar 24, 2011 3:05:38 PM PDT
Outstanding review. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 9:03:21 AM PDT
M. Pittore says:
Would you reccomend any other books on the topic of social media that are better? I have recently read "Connected" by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler and LOVED it. Want to read something more directly focused on the online media side of this now.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 9:42:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 25, 2011 9:45:07 AM PDT
Tony Bittick says:
I for one, would be highly interested in knowing what Mr. Freedman's personal experience is when it comes to hands on marketing experience, making a living online and or using Social Media for other than personal reasons...

Anybody who fails to read this book as a result Mr. Freedman's reviews is really missing the boat. In fact I'm not even sure he knows where the boat is located.

The review is bombastic at best and just ignorant at it's worst. Socialnomics is not intended to be presented as a dictum on the statistics and "facts" about social media (fact being loosely used term as the "facts" are really just starting to come in.) It's a book on theory, on the paradigm shift the world of marketing and sales is making and in some cases strategies being used. He offers examples as one would metaphors for the possibilities rather than a historic factual tome on what's really what. While I don't know Mr. Quallman, I'm quite confident the book was intended to be more of a top down perspective for those just starting to get the idea that the tool can be used for more than showing grandma the latest pics of the kids.

I'll only address one of Mr. Freedman's remarks which should be proficient. He talks about the Olympics and how it should have been broadcast in streaming events. And I'll take it as step further, broadcast of the last World Cup was atrocious because there were so many places that couldn't receive the broadcasts online.

Somebody, either read Socialnomics or is listening because the NCAA has made it so you can see each and every game on-line, by your choice.

This, in my book, makes Mr. Quallman more prophetic than anything else.

Mr. I would suggest you bought a book looking for something, didn't find it, and then came here to shamelessly bather on about the fact that you didn't find what you were looking for. Sadly, in the end, your review seems to have stopped some people from buying the book.

Finally I will offer this to anybody who had the misfortune of letting Mr. Freedman's review reflect your decision making process in any way shape or form.

Sadly this information is tucked away in the back of the book, while I think perhaps it should have been placed in the front. The following more than quantifies Mr. Quallman's statements.

"For the past 16 years Qualman has helped grow the online marketing and eBusiness capabilities of many companies including Education First, Cadillac, EarthLink, Yahoo!, Travelzoo and AT&T."

I'm comfortable that when a person with those credentials writes a book, it's probably worth reading. No matter WHAT the Mr. Freedman's of the world might say

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2011 10:53:03 AM PDT
M. Pittore says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2011 7:05:19 PM PDT
@Tony ... At your suggestion I looked at Freedman's other reviews. I think he was extremely fair handed -- some 5's, some 4's and a couple of duds. I've not read this book, but I rely on Amazon's reviews to help me decide whether to spend the time or not. I HATE reviewers that are incapable of a critical word when it is deserved. The review system only works when people *fairly* evaluate the work.

Freedman's first line: "Qualman insightfully advises companies to patiently build relationships with customers through social media, rather than instantly getting a customer's name and e-mail address into its database"

... this got my attention. I've owned and operated a pure-play web-based training company for 10 years. In that time, email has saved my bacon on countless occasions. Furthermore, the general consensus among online business owners is that "social doesn't convert". Follow Mixergy.com for details. I've found this to be true in my own business. Social does some neat stuff for our company, but in the end we've concluded that nothing beats an annoying popup interstitial asking you to join our mailing lists and a well crafted email auto-responder campaign. To suggest otherwise is ignorance.

Now, in your critique of Freedman ... you quote this line:

"For the past 16 years Qualman has helped grow the online marketing and eBusiness capabilities of many companies including Education First, Cadillac, EarthLink, Yahoo!, Travelzoo and AT&T." I'm comfortable that when a person with those credentials writes a book, it's probably worth reading. No matter WHAT the Mr. Freedman's of the world might say.

For a lot of these guys, writing the book is the equivalent of distributing their business card at a convention. With regards to his clients ... I could say the same about myself with Microsoft, Sprint, Mary Kay Corporation, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Hyundai and probably others. In fact, there are 10,000 guys who can say the same sorts of things. I've met these types -- they have no more insight than the close-to-the-metal marketer armed with Google Analytics and Excel.

I for one appreciate the critical review. I could care less about the $10 ... it's the waste of time that matters to me.

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 2:01:52 PM PDT
Kerri says:
Lots of information Freedman.
Some of which was helpful. But by paragraph two felt more like a rant then a review. Thanks for taking the time to honestly comment about the book having a balance view point to the publisher's is always welcome. Unfortunately I think your message got lost in sheer volume.
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