Book Review: UnMarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.

First off, I am definitely not qualified to review a book on social media. I’m still learning a lot, make lots of mistakes and am still trying to figure it out along with everyone else. So I’m approaching this review from the perspective of a business leader looking to learn more about how best to embark into online social networking endeavours. And UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging is well worth the read

Scott Stratten has a witty, sarcastic and self-depreciating writing style. His anecdotes, statistics, and witty footnotes are part Donald Miller and part Malcolm Gladwell. The cover of UnMarketing even caught my eye. Anyone who blatantly makes up fake praise (one review is from the “famous author who hasn’t read this book”), for his own marketing book has to have something interesting to say, which is why I bought it.

On the way to work every day, I pass a hair salon with a cheap billboard out front that says “become our fan on Facebook”. Ummm, why the heck would I do that? (it’s a boring drive, and I do wonder that every time I see it). Stratten explains why marketing strategies like that are useless, but most importantly, gives real life stories of how companies have successfully journeyed into the world of online social media.

Stratten repeatedly emphasizes that social media is a reciprocal agreement between people. It can’t be faked. It has to be genuine…just like leadership does. Strip the marketing terms out of this book, and you have a great core of advice on how leaders successfully network themselves within organizations. This networking is necessary, and requires genuine, authentic time invested by the leader. Relationships can’t be outsourced or delegated, no matter how hard leaders try. Your employees are already talking about your company on Facebook, or at the local pub. Why not find a way to harness that energy, learn from them, and better your company? Stratten shows you how to do that using the plethora of tools available in 2011, but also helps readers deepen their understanding of the relationships involved in/through social media.

Most of all, Stratten lives his stuff. I always get amused by people who promote themselves as social media “experts” but only have 39 Twitter followers and a pre-1995 website for their company. Social media isn’t something you can read about. To call yourself a true expert, you have to live it and have something credible to say. Stratten gets that. He has successfully done everything he writes about in this book, and that gives him a lot of credibility in my mind.

I highly recommend this book for any business leader looking at ways to better use his marketing dollars, and who wants to build a stronger social fabric within his/her organization.