Friends with Benefits

Do you see Facebook as simply a way to connect with old classmates? Do you see no value in YouTube aside from watching dramatic gophers and Star Wars kids? You’re missing out. Maybe you don’t even know your Twitter from your LinkedIn. If that’s the case, then you may want to give a serious look at Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook, a new book written by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo of Capulet Communications.

As I mentioned last month, I received a copy of this book to review. In a nutshell, it goes through many of the social media channels that you may encounter on the Internet, but from the perspective of how these networks and channels can aid in your company’s marketing efforts. Instead of talking about Facebook as a way to re-connect with old friends, it approaches the popular social networking site as a way to build an audience and attract new customers to your company.

For social media enthusiasts who like to keep on the bleeding edge of technology, Friends with Benefits is admittedly “old hat” for the most part. For people whose eyes glaze over with any social media talk, Darren and Julie give easy-to-understand explanations.

In their discussion of RSS syndication and how we choose to access information on the web, they use the following analogy.

“This is the traditional hunter-gatherer model of consuming information on the Web. You find the news and sort through it for the stuff you like but haven’t read. Syndication is the pizza delivery model of reading news. Instead of seeking out the information you want, you get tailor-made information dispatched to your computer or mobile device.”

Even if you’re already familiar with Google PageRank and why you shouldn’t try to infuse your Wikipedia page with marketing language (just like they should stay away from user manuals, Friends with Benefits is still an engaging and interesting read.

Before considering the present and approaching the future, the book gives the context from the past. Going back to the Geocities days, “Ordinary people were, with their animated GIFs and pink-on-black text, demonstrating that the Web was becoming a true town square.” Ah, memories. We also learn about how often to blog, how to handle a social media crisis, whether MySpace still matters, and how to use the power of crowds.

I’ve been a fan of Darren Barefoot for a number of years and this book will certainly help to solidify his position as a trusted expert in this field. He’s come a long way since writing plays about balls and I wish him (and Julie) all the best.

Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook is available through for $17.24.