Dan Zarrella, the social media scientist who authored The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies, wants you to toss out much of what you’ve heard about social media marketing and focus on what his research tells you instead.
In his introduction (which is a must-read), he refers disdainfully to this oft-repeated social media advice:
- “Be awesome.”
- “Engage in the conversation.”
- “Have a personality.”
The definition of “awesome,” according to his research, depends on the social network. Twitter users like and retweet links, while Facebook users favor photos and blog readers like videos.
And do you really need to chat it up? Not on Twitter, according to Zarrella’s data. Before reading this book, I heard time and time again that I should engage with people on Twitter. We’re told to reply to comments on tweets and thank people for the retweets. It’s the opposite, according to Zarrella’s research, which shows that Twitter accounts with the largest followings have the lowest level of engagement. What they lack in chatter they make up for in links: The highly followed accounts tweet more links than accounts with fewer followers.
If you show a personality — yours or your company’s — make sure it’s a positive one. Across all networks, people like positive perspectives and information more than they like negative commentary. But, interestingly enough, they’ll take negative over neutral. Neutral is boring.
Conclusions, advice come from research
Zarrella’s book is based on data accumulated and analyzed in part through his job as a viral marketing scientist at Hubspot, Inc., a company that sells marketing software to customers using the Web to generate leads. He leads us through the dos and don’t by focusing our attention on the numbers coming out of research about how people use social media. The book is loaded with graphs showing us how often people click on paid search advertising or the relationship between the time you tweet and the click-through rate.
Of particular value to authors is the first chapter on e-books, with its statistics on reader preferences for genre, format, and length. (I’ll share more on this in the February 12, 2014 issue of the Build Book Buzz e-newsletter; subscribe at https://buildbookbuzz.com.)
The Science of Marketing also shares data and advice on SEO (search engine optimization) and devotes chapters to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blogging, and e-mail marketing.
Data changes my behavior
Here are just four of the many things I’ll be doing differently after reading Zarrella’s book:
- Scheduling blog posts for the morning, not afternoon.
- Adding more photos to marketing-related status updates on Facebook.
- Losing the guilt over not having the time to interact more with Twitter connections.
- Adding “new blog post” to my new blog post tweets.
I found the book extremely useful and recommend it to anyone using social media for marketing purposes, but it does have one flaw: the lack of attention to LinkedIn. Considering it’s the third largest social network and much larger than Pinterest, I would have expected a chapter on that social network.
Fortunately, it’s not a fatal flaw.
What’s your favorite book on how to use social networks effectively?