The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

The Art of Social Media, a book in review

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick

Social media, is it really an art ? Whatever the right answer – if any – may be, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick are saying yes to it with their upcoming book, “The Art of Social Media”.

With the book due to be available in just a few hours (on the 4th of December), what is there to be expected from it ? Let us have a quick look into it since I had the chance to get a copy for review.

The book I wanted

With the extreme rise of web-based publications and tools, I do admit that books have become a rarity in my vicinity. Yet, upon notification of this upcoming book, I really got curious; so much that I actually pre-ordered the book and paid for it … . Prior to receiving a copy for review.

Call me eager and dumb but the combination of Guy, Peg (both for whom I have the utmost respect) and social media made it quite an appealing piece of content. My precious … .

Now, on to topic. Does the “precious” deliver ?

“Power tips for power users”

Social media has become quite a standard and everybody uses at least a few platforms and tools. So getting the tips from the best in order to go the extra mile did sound like a sweet promise.

A hundred pages later, I felt like having browsed and clicked through my everyday Twitter timeline, full of tips and how-to in the sense that there is little to nothing new brought to the table for the non power user I am.

Hence my reading here, “Social Media for Dummies”.

The 100+ tips and tools to succeed with social media

Guy mentions that he loves a “how to” title or whatever kind of “x tips for social”. This book does actually feel like a larger than life how-to post. How to get started and develop on social media, the mainstream ones that is.

It does feel good to get a written validation from experts in regards to the tools used or the strategies developed though.

Yet, I ended up strolling through the book feeling like it missed one thing … a Wow factor that would make it stand out from – again – just one of these various posts to be found on the web everyday. And making it a book does actually not help as the visuals do not give a sound representation of what quality pictures should be. Not to mention screen captures cutting paragraphs in a strange and non consistent way.

Why so ugly ?

One general take about social “leaders”, “influencers”, “experts” or whatever you call them, they, for some reason, have the most ugly/old/scam-looking personal pages or websites to be found on the web.

Quite appalling for people going on about design and pictures all day long.

Well, one thing struck me when I saw the cover of this book … it feels the same as these sites. Definitely not an appealing visual. And it proves an even worse template to use for promotion around the book. I mentioned it already but the inside does not really get any better, not helping a free-flowing read.

Book or bookmark

I have compared the book to a blog post about social media earlier and the e-book does actually prove to be quite a twin to blog posts to be found out there.

The e-book does offer clickable links. Plenty of these driving the reader to various pages where additional content is to be found, turning a 100 pages book into a massive 1000+ pages encyclopaedia.

For the better ?

Yes from a homework point of view when wanting to focus on a particular chapter and willing to get the most of the paragraph in order to implement tweaks on a personal page or strategy.

As far as reading a book is concerned, the links tend to serve as substitutes to an actual clear and concise example or use-case, hence impairing the “power” experience of reading it. Not to mention that they are doing what is usually to be avoided on the web for your sites, take the visitor/reader away from the site/page.

On a side note, some pages end up being seriously overloaded with links (18 on pages 30-31 … just a random pick).

Engineering vs art

Calling the content of this book basic is a mistake of mine.

Not that I need to apologize for a troll moment here. Most of the book is about standard tools, strategies and recommendations.

But there come times when rocket science tips come into the mix, the “how to Peg a post” is a great example, where we suddenly move a lot more towards expert level but rather in the realm of engineering than art.

The art of social media is about the interactions, the listening and engaging, mostly the very basic foundations of social. Then comes the engineering for the power – or power-to-be – users.

Encyclopaedia Universalis … of social media.

encyclopaedia universalis

An encyclopaedia. For the older ones (yes I mean millennials … ) there was this time when we would work out of dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Oh the good ol’ times of browsing through standard paper pages with a few pictures here and there in search for added smartness.

The Art of Social Media is a book of this kind to me. A place where to go search for an item and get added knowledge about it. A support tool.

Maybe, in this regards, then it is a tool for power users and not for people looking for a quick and easy user guide to rocking social media. Burn the “for dummies”, this one is for social media nerds.

In the end, this is a nice-to-have book which I would not necessarily consider buying after being able to browse through it.

Oh wait, I actually bought it … .

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Avoid burning your startup over marketing

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Starting up is an adventure. Even if startups have become fashionable, they do remain actual companies.
With the same basic principles governing them.
Build, sale, make enough money to stay afloat and, hopefully, thrive.

Yet, statistics still tell that half of the newborn companies will not make it past a few years. Even the recent trend of over-funding tech startups will not really help as startups tend, more and more, to adopt a “nouveau riche” stance.

Nobody can deny the extreme competition over talent within the startup world leading to crazy packages to be offered. Also San Francisco and its housing prices make it near impossible to hire anybody without offering a premium just to allow them to live somewhere decent.
However, not all startups are in San Francisco and not all of them need to hire the one worldwide expert.

Does that mean that these other startups may be safe from the cash burning epidemic ? Not necessarily.
Before the spending spree, startups were already burning cash. Only in different ways.

Back to basics

Startups are, by default, young and lacking experience. That is basically why most founders need help and advice. A founder, backed by a mentor, usually builds a far more solid business.
Why is that ? Because, at the very least, a mentor may allow to avoid the panic decision-making.

Every company has deadlines. Every startup – or most at least – tend to have funding covering a defined lifespan and will, ultimately, need to make money or die. This creates a sense of urgency.
And out of urgency, panic.

Think and act

Founders, entrepreneurs, need to think before acting when it comes to steering their company. And not act without thinking.
The early stages of a startup are crucial and every decision made can create rotten foundations for the future.
From renting office space to hiring people and external consultants.

This post was actually triggered by a recent encounter with a company managed by a handful of people using outsourced skills. Definitely a good way to get skills onboard for a limited time and lower cost while still having the job done.
However, “job done” does not mean job done well.

Ask questions of “experts”

In the age of freelance, it sure is easy to put together a bunch of experts bringing dedicated skills to the table of a startup company while avoiding the humongous costs of having full time employees.
But whatever or whoever the “experts” are, startups need to put their name to the test.

A job done is still just a job done. Not a job done well. And as much as people want to love the lean startup approach and the MVP approach, not every product delivered will get a second chance.
An easy example being apps. People download, test and uninstall if it is bad or even just acceptable. And never come back.

This is valid for more trivial matters. In the case I encountered, I gave advice on the customer experience, the marketing and the use of social media. A quick but solid overview of what was good, wrong and where major improvements were needed. It basically took me 15 minutes to do a quick audit and put a summary together.
Nothing major.
But this startup then let me know that these points definitely made sense as they had commissioned an analyst company to do an audit and they had had similar findings.
After having been provided this document, my new finding was that analysts had basically been paid a very fair amount of money for a half-assed audit, written over about 50 pages, and not providing any clear recommendation.

Bullshit sells

Seriously. I did provide more content and actionable recommendations, for free, in a standard note than an actual analyst in 50 pages and for an amount of money I would love to be paid.
But bullshit sells. Especially when people panic. Especially when they do not take time to think and define their positioning, strategy and expectations well.

The bottom line here is that out of panicking and missing advice, a company burns time and money on a useless resource.
Which leads to the potential next burning : hiring an agency to fix what is not working … Remind me again what, in this report, were the solutions ?
PR agencies alone are a risk for startups. Going the extra mile and entrusting the whole marketing and social media job to an external agency, without a dedicated resource to liaise and challenge them, is a do or die.

Needing a picture here ? Take your baby, walk out of the house and entrust your baby kid to one stranger you pick in the street. Then pray that was the right one … .

In the end, it is easy to burn cash in ways definitely less fancy than what Silicon Valley displays but startups beware.

Thinking and planning may save you from getting burnt – from a bad decision, leading to another, more expensive and engaging, to burning too much cash, screwing up the company’s image and finally not getting customers onboard.

Just sit down, relax and ask for advice.


Startup normality ?

Life and startup advice : Screw what most people think is “normal”


Lack of time

Losing millions … of time

Lack of time

Time is the new currency.

Or so they say. Time has indeed become so important in our society and everybody seems to be lacking it.

However, have things really changed that dramatically over the years that time is so scarce nowadays ?

I wonder … .



Fancy being rich ? If time is currency then stop throwing away millions!

The era of the typewriter and the future of writing

Typewriter vintage

We live in a new era. A modern era of technology, connected tools – the Internet of Things – phones smarter than their users and definitely a time of numerous and fast changes.

Still, having a quick look through the window of my Mac, the world seems to be going backwards on some specific matters.

Writing on billboards

I do write. Using various tools and even a pen and paper. Which does create an awesome amount of frustration when I have to then type the whole 2000 or so words I have hand-written … .

But, at the same time, computers do offer less and less appeal for writing.

From a crashing Word to a WordPress interface, the dedicated writer has to cope with either bugs or noise. And that goes without mentioning the many keeping a Facebook or a Twitter open.

In the end, the writing world found itself longing for the old times of the white, blank, page.

Novelty or re-invention ? 

The wish for an old-fashion white page has driven various developers and entrepreneurs to develop an answer to these new needs, the back-to-basics digital white page.

The writer in me can now benefit from a digital haven while giving birth to new stories or just putting a few bits together to create this post.

Is it the new vintage ? WordPress offering a “distraction-free” interface, the likes of Blogo boasting a “blank” design and so on. The latest tool, Desk, being the tool I am using to write down this piece.

I want a typewriter

I do actually would like to use a typewriter. Why ? In order to ensure using a tool only fit for one task – but also a tool dedicated to this one task. Further than the point about avoiding distraction (it is mainly a matter of turning off notifications and not get struck by a sudden Twitter FOMO) just for the sake of benefiting from a free mind.

I started writing with a pen and a notebook. This encompasses writing in the sense that not only was it quick to take notes, add memos or just write a wee piece while stopping at a terrace for a few minutes but also because it was a relaxing experience.

And now, I want a typewriter. Not that I fancy having to type and retype (later, on my Mac) but for the sake of using a dedicated tool. And halfway between the laptop and the typewriter, I came across the Hemingwrite. I now want a typewriter.

The essence of writing 

Writing is more than a job, a duty or a constraint. At least, it has to be.

Content or inbound arketing, Growth hacking, and the next one(s); regardless of names, the current trend implies the creation of an awful amount of content. Hence writing as an industrial process.

However, writing should remain an experience, a pleasure and not a cold, almost mathematical, process of putting together a set of 5, 7 or 10 tips for startups or social media marketers.

A university teacher told me once that language is music. If the music does not sound right then the sentence is wrong. The same goes with writing.

So, with a trend to seek this old fashion notebook quietness, may we also hear some old fashion writing music.

Stop the meetnaping

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