Social media marketing challenges traditional practices

social media cocktail party

Book Review
Social Media is a Cocktail Party:
Why You Already Know the Rules of Social Media Marketing.
By Jim Tobin with Lisa Braziel
Ignite Social Media,  2008. 179 pages.

If you’re a marketer or a CEO and you think social media is dumb, or a waste of time, or a bunch of amateurs, please know this: Sometimes you’re right. Often you’re wrong.

Jim Tobin acknowledges that crowdsourcing, the wisdom of crowds, and the democratization of content creation often leads to junk. But it also produces some jewels.

Tobin is a veteran of advertising, public relations, and digital marketing, and directs Ignite Social Media. His coauthor and collaborator Lisa Braziel develops social media strategies for Fortune 1000 brands. They call social media the largest, best, most accurate market segmentation tool ever invented. “Whatever you sell, from cars to cancer drugs, consulting services to machines,” they write, “there are groups out there talking online about your category.”

Adopting social media marketing, Tobin says, means un-learning the idea that customers are “targets” to be seized. In social media marketing customers become your partners and potential advocates. Get to know and appreciate those people who love their Macintoshes, their Chicken McNuggets, their video games, their TiVo, and who talk about them in their blogs and podcasts and online social networks.

They’re creating a gold mine for marketers. Listen to consumer-generated conversations across the Internet as potential purchasers dig deep into user-generated product reviews, feature lists, comparison prices, rave reviews, and cautionary tales. Find those conversations, monitor them, and participate in them on their terms.

If you listen to the conversation long enough, Tobin says, you’ll find that there are not, in fact, an infinite number of issues. Rather, you’ll find a reasonably long but finite list of issues that your prospects and customers care about.

While Tobin and Braziel are social media evangelists, they do caution that marketing in social media isn’t for everyone. It’s important to evaluate your company first. Is your company ready for transparency? For authenticity? Are you ready to lose control of your brand a bit?

If so, then it’s time to start planning. A community analysis plan begins by examining the search landscape and the social media landscape. Then a community engagement plan outlines the primary goals of your social media campaign and what you know about the primary audience.

Tobin and Braziel also pointedly discuss what ‘viral’ marketing is and is not; why Second Life will never work for marketers, and how Dell uses social media for product development.

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5 Responses to Social media marketing challenges traditional practices

  1. Paul,

    Thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed the book.

    ~Jim Tobin

  2. So Paul, if I have time to read just one of these books on social/new media, what is the recc?

    • paul says:

      Hi Patrick. Your question inspires me to reply with a well-written piece that goes beyond a blog post and that evaluates these titles according to some kind of rubric that would be meaningful to educommunicators in a variety of job responsibilities. So I’m drafting that as we speak. I also feel myself pulled toward producing a related opinion piece. I’ll work on both over the weekend and get them to you early in the week. Thanks for the mention, and thanks for offering this challenge.

  3. james says:

    Would Design by Humans or springleap.com be examples of crowdsourcing?

  4. […] and should increasingly be considered an alternative to traditional primary research. In fact, in Jim Tobin’s recent book, ‘Social Media is a Cocktail Party’, he and fellow author Lisa Braziel call social media “the largest, best, most accurate market […]

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