I just finished Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Media, and I have to say, I have never been so torn about a book I’ve read before. There is a LOT of great stuff in this book, especially if you are looking for someone who can explain some of this hazy “magic” that people refer to when they talk about social media. However, there are a few recurring points that also bother me a great deal in this book, and for me, given my perspective and background, these points are enough to almost overshadow the really good stuff. With that said, let’s talk about the good stuff first.

Actionable Items and Real-Life Examples

Whereas a lot of books simply offer advice and ask you to take the author’s word for it, Dave Kerpen offers examples for everything he talks about, often including screen captures to illustrate his specific point. This can come in particularly handy as he demonstrates the difference between a boring or “selly” Facebook page versus an engaging, conversational, likeable Facebook page. Dave also uses screen captures from Twitter to illustrate specific points about how you can build and nurture relationships using social media.

Another great thing about this book is that each chapter ends with actionable items, or what I like to call homework. This not only encourages you to go back and think about what you just read, but it also literally gives you ways to segue what you are reading into your real life work. I had a V8 moment reading the book and realized I had never added a link to our agency’s Facebook page to my blog site. Big duh factor, but these are the kinds of useful hints you can find here.

This book is also great if you are new to social media in general. A lot of the advice is solid across platforms. If you are unsure how to use search functions on social media platforms, if you’re not sure exactly what social media “listening” is, or if you are unclear how to advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter – among many other things – this book can be a great resource for you.

The parts I didn’t like

With all of that being said, there were two things that rubbed me the wrong way with this book. The first was a comment I have been thinking about a lot. Here’s the passage:

Klout (Klout.com) and other services rank people online based on how many friends and followers they have. Just like you’d probably respond a little faster to celebrities who filled out comment cards years ago, you might consider prioritizing your response time based on how influential the customer is.” [pp 80-81]

Here’s the problem I have with this advice – Klout, at least to me, is not the most reliable measure of online influence, and even if a person has a ton of followers, those followers may not be at all relevant to your company. In fact, I can tell you that probably a third of my followers are spam bots on Twitter. It seems awfully risk to prioritize in this way when responding to customers, although the idea that you can’t always respond to *everybody* is not hard to disagree with.

The biggest problem I had with this book, though, is a thread that carries throughout the entire book. There seems to be a call for dropping “traditional” advertising in every chapter, and on nearly every page. Indeed, Kerpen notes that ROI can be measured in cuts made to traditional advertising campaign spends. To me, this is extremely dangerous for two reasons. First, not every company is going to excel using Social Media. I know we don’t like to talk about this, but there are still plenty of industries out there who really can’t realize 100% benefits from using Twitter and/or Facebook. If these companies are encouraged to drop everything else and use social media, they may find themselves in serious binds.

The other problem, though, is that even if you are using social media successfully, the strongest campaigns will be those that integrate “traditional” marketing with new marketing tactics. I strongly disagree with Kerpen’s assessment that websites are not really necessary. Even for consumer companies, there are reasons to have websites, if only to have a central hub where all of your campaigns can lead. There are still reasons for companies to at least have PDFs of their literature available. For many companies, direct mail and advertisements and email marketing are still 100% viable as marketing tactics. Can those tactics work with social media marketing? Of course! We just need to think outside the box and be creative. But to say that marketing is an all or nothing world can be very harmful to companies that still actually rely heavily on one type of marketing or another.

Should you buy this book?

I have to say that I think a lot of the guidance this book offers, especially if you are new to social media, is well worth the investment, but I would not take the notes about traditional marketing to heart. Use the good information presented and decide for your own company whether traditional marketing should remain a vital part of your marketing efforts. Also bear in mind, most of the companies Kerpen talks about are very much on the consumer end of the spectrum. If you are a B2B company, you can still use a lot of the advice he gives, but you will need to adjust it for your own purposes.

If you’ve read the book or read it in the future, let me know what you think!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vegaseddie/5700609302/ via Creative Commons