Scott Stratten is one of those “Twitter guys” that one gets to know if one is serious about Social Media, as he walks the walk and talks the talk, and he'll even interact with you, despite having some 65,000 followers. His Twitter handle is @UnMarketing, and it was no great surprise that the book appeared as UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. It has amused me to have been a bit of a “Twitter voyeur” for the genesis of a couple of really great social media books ... having been in the publishing field before, I was certainly familiar with the struggles that authors go though, but it's been quite interesting to see that play out on my computer screen.
As you have no doubt guessed at this point, I think that UnMarketing is awesome (or, as its author would have it: “awesomesauce”). This is as much by a “digital native” as a book (with “Twitter” in its title) I recently reviewed in this space was not … although Scott does describe his initial tepid response to Twitter, and his rather over-the-top “one last try” that eventually turned him into a major social media advocate. Tellingly, this book does not have “Twitter” in its title (even though the first half of the book “takes place” within that 140-character zone), because it's really about approaches of engagement and the things that work, the things that don't, and the companies (and people) who “get it”, and those that don't.
The book opens with one of Stratten's most repeated stories, of being out at BlogWorld in Las Vegas and encountering a member of the maintenance staff at the brand-new Wynn casino/hotel whose eager, authentic, and individualized “customer service” (to somebody just wandering in to take a look) made a difference in the perception of the “brand” that millions of dollars of ads, press releases, imprinted tchotchkes, etc. could not. There are several stories here of times that Scott went “undercover” to see how various businesses were at “customer experience”, and much of what he reports is pretty grim, although the text is somewhat “bookended” by another story of somebody “doing it right”, with his experience on one of these ventures with the staff of a Lush soap store.
In between these there is a wealth of tales of folks who are at various points on that “getting it” spectrum. As noted, about the first half of the book is mainly Twitter, while the rest of the book moves out into more general settings, from tips on how to improve web experiences, to various ways of delivering information, to assorted business settings, etc., all seasoned with Scott's own experiences and painful mistakes (and some of those are doozies). He discusses newsletters, mailing lists, web hosting, audio and video conferences, live conferences, trade shows, etc., and shows what's good, what's bad, and what is, frankly, ridiculous. The “skewering” of various unquestioned “best practices” begins with the book's back cover which reduces standard publishers' quote-mongering down to their essential absurdities.
UnMarketing is, in its primary focus, a book for businesses, but in the age of the “personal brand” most of what Stratten preaches to the business audience is equally applicable to the individual, at least as far as presenting themselves authentically within their specific personal contexts. If you have an interest (as I do) in the nitty-gritty of Social Media, this is also a great resource for things that Scott has found (frequently via painful trial-and-error) to work best, from programs to services to systems, and the vast majority of the bookmarks I dropped in here were pointing to things like this that I'm planning on getting back to.
The book is a quick read, enhanced by generally short chapters (most in the 3-6 page range) focused on specific topics, with only one going beyond 10 pages, the 26-page section on Viral Marketing (which I'm guessing was re-purposed for the book from some previously e-formatted material). Throughout Scott uses his self-depreciating humor to balance the “sacred cow goring” barbs aimed at those who are “doing it wrong”. At one point Scott asks to know if you had “WOW!” moments in reading the book, and while I can't say that, I can report that in several instances I was Laughing Out Loud over his descriptions of various quirks in himself and others. If there was one thing that stood out in this book over all the other Social Media books I've read, it's his very specific descriptions of how he screwed up things over the years, with detailed instructions on how to avoid his mistakes. This make the book feel more like “hanging out with a Social Media mentor” than attending a seminar on the subject, which is quite notable in its uniqueness.
As this just officially came out a couple of weeks back, you should be able to find it all over the place (at least at book stores that carry business/marketing/internet books), but, at this writing, Amazon has it for 34% off of cover, and that's even cheaper than what it's going for via the new/used vendors. If you have an interest in social media, customer service, business, personal branding, or figuring out ways that folks can simply “not be jerks”; this is a book you'll like; it's witty, direct, and speaks from experience.