The #ArtofSocial is What?

This morning, on Google+, successful self-promoter Guy Kawasaki posted about the #ArtofSocial quiz, which promotes his new book co-written with Peg Fitzpatrick  You can see from the screen grab my score, which isn’t as good as I expected. Dammit. (By the way, I didn’t take nearly 6 minutes to complete the quiz. I had a cat interruption midway through.)

Grumble. Grumble. Now I must buy another Guy Kawasaki book, with hopes this time there’s gold. I’ve yet to earn a living writing ebooks, even after reading APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and blame the author—meaning me, not him. 🙂

That said, Guy and Peg don’t self-publish (unless I miss something obvious). Penguin Group is The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users publisher. So what does that say about independent publishing, advice APE gives, and ebook promotion? The book’s website is fabulously clean and, well, promotional. Is that a social media template or Penguin pushing marketing buttons that are tested and true?

Shameless, Just Shameless
The answer is a little of both, I presume. The book’s URL is excellent and shows there is use for the mudslide of new domain extensions pushing across the Internet Information Superhighway. Meanwhile, the site shamelessly promotes the book by providing 10 tweets ready to post. I assume that’s one of the lessons the book teaches: You should be shameless when self-promoting, because if you don’t promote yourself who will? Okay, the people liking what you do enough to share those pre-written tweets. 😉

Some SEO expert answer, please: Is there any benefit to all those same exactly-worded tweets floating around the Twittersphere, or hastags elsewhere? Or is the value just reaching people through their connections with others? Or both.

The pre-written concept isn’t new, though. Why do companies distribute press releases? Because many bloggers and journalists will report straight from the PR, without even questioning anything. Same concept applies to VNRs—video news releases; say, are they still distributed or is that last Century?

Social isn’t new. Human beings are naturally gregarious. Only the tools are changed, and in rapid manner, too. I first observed in June 2009 post “Iran and the Internet Democracy” how social sharing tools transformed news gathering. Keep in mind that half-a-decade ago, Facebook and Twitter had only been available to the public for about three years and YouTube for a few months longer. Now social sharing services and apps are everywhere.

What’s the Buzz?
It’s a popularity contest, and Guy Kawasaki has a knack for winning. But the reality is this: There is only so much space for celebrities, regardless of market. Few people who try to succeed in social will, if for no other reason than there are too many people seeking attention. Stars that shine brightest will be—so far they are—those who most shamelessly self-promote. From that perspective, social is self-marketing at best, narcissism at worst. Well, that is if assigning value judgments. Although by another measure success is the only value that matters.

BuzzFeed is example among new media organizations.  As I explained last month, the site puts more stock in social than search, which proves to be a winning strategy—or so the company claims in a fascinating and insightful November Trends report: “BuzzFeed’s social traffic is 5 times its search traffic”. But it’s the reach among Millennials and on mobile devices that really impresses.

In an October analysis for NeimanLab, Ken Doctor uses comScore data to identify the news sites with the greatest number of unique visitors who are Millennials. Vice is first and BuzzFeed second. Both rely much on social sharing, although with different hooks, which is broader topic for another post.

The point: Social matters, but it always has. How to succeed in this decade is the question many people ask and few rightly answer.

The Road Not Taken
In October, I observed that “Robert Scoble and I Turn in Opposite Directions But Share Destination“. Just as I made my blog the hub for my personal content, he shifted from his site to Facebook. I haven’t asked Robert, and should, but he is someone who would have advance access to Guy’s and Peg’s book. Is he putting to practice what the writers teach? Robert is another shameless self-promoter, BTW. 🙂

I will say this: Facebook accomplishes something for Robert. If you compare the commenting to the posts on his now abandoned blog to those on his Facebook page, the difference is immediately obvious. FB interaction is greater, which creates important positive perceptions. Who wants to hang around a nobody, and Robert arguably is a somebody in the blogosphere. My site creates negative perceptions, because there is so little interaction. That’s because it typically takes place elsewhere, mainly Google+. Now what does that say I should be paying attention to, eh?

Despite my failure so far to actualize Guy’s APE book, maybe there is hope with The Art of Social. In my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers, I advise:

You must identify your audience and go to wherever it is and build brand share and loyalty…Your content should span venues, as is appropriate reaching your audience whenever, wherever, and on whatever it may be. Remember, you must go to your audience for it to come to you.

I don’t say how and hadn’t bothered enough to try until recently. So the new book is timely for me, and I expect to plunk down $10.99 this morning and start reading this afternoon. Mmm, that’s not a very social way to spend the weekend, now is it?