“What’s the best book I should read to get started with this whole ‘social media’ thing?” When I asked my good friend @mikefixs this question last year, he strongly suggested I read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing & PR, originally published in 2007 with an updated paperback published in 2009. This may represent one of the best pieces of advice on the subject I’ve ever received.
To begin, just take a look at the author’s subtitle: “How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly.” What else can I say except, “It works.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Unlike twitter power, by Joel Comm, (click here for Get It While It’s Hot! – A Review of Joel Comm’s twitter power) The New Rules of Marketing & PR doesn’t focus on only one narrow social media topic. Also, the book isn’t one of those paint-by-the-numbers mindless guides that magically produce success. It doesn’t purport to be. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, does layout a well thought template for success. The practitioner, however, remains responsible for developing the specific plan as well as executing it. While that’s not an easy thing, the template itself leapfrogged a neophyte like me from a back-seat-of-the-bus Web 2.0 onlooker to a social media maniac.
And one with measurable success!
Allow me to explain how The New Rules of Marketing & PR helped me. I had two major social media projects last year. The first, AstronomyTop100.com, a not-for-profit project meant to help support the United Nations International Year of Astronomy, really took off once I began to implement ideas from the book’s template. The second, FiduciaryNews.com, an independent media forum for retirement plan sponsors and fiduciaries, benefited from the onset since I had already used the template successfully in the first project. Scott’s book, after explaining “How the Web has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR” (Part I of the book), discusses “Web-Based Communications” (Part II) and offers an “Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules” (Part III). These latter two sections provided the template I used for both projects.
The book provides a comprehensive review of each and every part of the new media. Even more useful, I quickly realized I did not need to utilize all pieces of the puzzle. While I used blogs, news releases and social networking sites, I bypassed (so far) podcasts, videocasts, Wikis and search engine optimization (SEO). Podcasts and videocasts will probably become part of my strategy as my written content expands (and I get more time), but I think SEO may be a bit overrated. If you’re writing for target market and you’ve written precisely, the SEO thing will take care of itself.
Here’s what The New Rules of Marketing & PR led me to do (and something I highly encourage you to also do if you’re serious about taking full advantage of Web 2.0 for your business or hobby). I took out my legal pad and built a matrix, well, two matrices, actually. The first matrix helped me identify what David Meerman Scott calls the “buyer persona.” For each project, I had several potential direct and indirect markets (i.e., “buyer personae”). I listed these on each row on the left hand side. Across the top, I listed relevant subject areas. Then it was merely a simple matter of checking off each subject area the particular market might have an interest in. I also tried (not too successfully) to create a three dimensional matrix by indicated which content delivery vehicles each buyer persona preferred.
The second matrix represented the nuts and bolts of the PR and marketing strategy. Down the left axis I created a series of rows for each type of content delivery mechanism. I labeled my rows “Web-site,” “Blog,” “Twitter,” “LinkedIn,” “Facebook,” “forums,” “news sites,” “Press Releases,” “research/survey reports,” “white papers,” “e-books,” “print books,” “e-mail, “newsletter,” “webinars,” “podcasts,” videocasts,” “wiki,” and “SEO.” Across the top I created a column heading for each phase of the particular project I was focusing on. (Think of this as a time line.) Under each phase, I brainstormed ideas for each row. This ideation process led to prioritized integration of the various delivery systems. It also indicated the purpose of each delivery mechanism. For example, Twitter would be used to drive followers to the blog which, in turn, would drive readers to the web-site. Of course, if your blog is on your web-site, you just eliminated a step!
It seems to have worked. In the case of AstronomyTop100.com, I successfully interacted with more and more people – ultimately from at least five out of the seven continents – to complete my project within the timeframe I originally established. With FiduciaryNews.com, in less than two months I established myself as an important and growing player in the market. This included getting a “must read” recommendation from what The Wall Street Journal listed as the #1 financial blogger. Mind you, both of these markets catered to smaller crowds, making it easier for me to create a significant and targeted impact in a short time frame.
And perhaps that’s the best piece of advice I can share that, while comprehensive in its scope, The New Rules of Marketing & PR can’t address. David Meerman Scott, with years of experience in the on-line news business, focuses primarily on content delivery and assumes you already know your market. Although he speaks of “the Long Tail,” it’s implied you’ll know how to use that strategy. He writes more from the point of view of how to delivery promotional information than how to pick your market. So here’s my advice to you: If you’re new to web marketing – or any business marketing for that matter – pick a narrow enough niche where you can most quickly generate measurable success. After you earn some success in a smaller market, you’ll have the confidence and the credibility to expand into larger markets.
Of course, once you’ve identified your market, when it comes to practicing the new rules of marketing and public relations, you best heed David Meerman Scott’s mantra to “think like a publisher.”