What a great title for a book about social media marketing. No Starch Press has a habit of turning out great books – I’ve recently reviewed Growing Software: Proven Strategies for Managing Software Engineers: Big Strategies for Managing Small Software Companies for The Computer Journal and that was also a fabulously produced, attractive and interesting book. Anyway, more on Growing Software another day – today’s review is Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo.
Barefoot and Szabo define social media marketing as “using social media channels to promote your company and its products.” I’m interested in social media as it pertains to project managers, and I’ve spoken about the role that social media has to play at several conferences. Last year I wrote the ‘Keeping Up’ series based on a presentation for the APM. And more recently PMI’s New Media Council – myself included – spoke about the uses for the internet and social media in a project environment, so the project management professional groups are catching on that PM 2.0 as we affectionately call it, is something that we should be slotting into our toolbox and bringing out to use as and when the conditions are right.
So I was interested to read a book aimed at companies who wanted to start using social media techniques – would they mention the applications for projects? In a word, no. But that’s not surprising, given that it is a ‘marketing’ handbook and as such all the effort of getting a social media programme up and running is focused externally. Even so, there are a few nods towards the use of Web 2.0 tools internally in the ‘why you should blog’ section. The authors list the following reasons for setting up a corporate blog:
- To foster customer relations (useful if your project is launching something new)
- To solicit user feedback (good for requirements gathering)
- To establish yourself as a source of expertise (maybe not so relevant to project management)
- To research the market (useful for business analysts and portfolio management – no point reinventing the wheel or designing something that won’t meet business needs)
- To provide technical support (could be part of your project handover to operations, especially for IT projects)
- To connect with journalists, analysts and industry bloggers (you probably wouldn’t set up a blog specifically to help your project do this but you could tap into an existing corporate blog once your project has some good news to share)
- To deploy dammage control (no relevance to project management – of course your project will not go wrong!!)
- To improve interdepartmental communication (very relevant to project management)
- To increase staff profiles (in case your bosses don’t know that you are the best project manager at XYZ Corporation)
- To recruit new employees (probably not so relevant for project managers)
It’s not a project management book, but I found it incredibly interesting and stuffed with plenty of things to put into practise, both to set up your own social media campaigns and to analyse the success of them (or other people’s).
There are two reasons why I think you should put this book on your Christmas list: first, if you are interested in the role that social media can play in the workplace – for projects or otherwise – then this is a helpful and practical text that will set you off on the right foot. Second, if your company looks like it is beginning to dabble in social media, then pick up Friends with Benefits so that you can understand the lingo and not look like a complete idiot when you next go to a marketing department meeting and they are all talking about things that you don’t understand. It’s part of our role as project managers to help our companies do things more effectively, and advising on the best way to do that is sometimes our prerogative – so keep up to date with the way the business world is changing an invest in a copy!18/11/2009