Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't let the small size fool you

Social Media Is BullshitSocial Media Is Bullshit by B.J. Mendelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is incredible: in a book about marketing – selling what you “make” – that is only 196 pages, not counting the end notes, he waits until a footnote on page 226, keyed to a comment on page 152, to offer his web address where you can find out what HE makes. Is there a word for “more humble than just humble?”
Two days ago I reviewed Stephen Dobyns’ The Burn Palace and included some of Stephen King’s comments about it. I didn’t quote King calling it “the embodiment of why we read stories, and why the novel will always be a better bang for the entertainment buck than movies or TV.” That came back to me today reading Mendelson, as I realized that one of the most valuable aspects of book publishing (whatever the “platform”) is that truly thoughtful and thought-provoking content can find its way to readers in spite of the fact that it will never be the center of mass market hysteria or hype.
Please don’t take away the impression that Mendelson advises us to boycott social media. Rather, while deflating many sacred cows (and re-sanctifying a few time-tested “bulls” that have been copied and recycled for decades) he shows what are realistic expectations and action plans for small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs. Publication of this book is a beneficent “public service from the private sector.”
I have been dipping into Mendelson in little nibbles for about a month; it’s too thought-full to take in too quickly. In a page or less he summarizes similar ideas to those promoted by Brendon Burchard for making money and having fun in the “Expert Industry.” The major difference is that Burchard makes it sound likely that you will succeed and have fun, while Mendelson laments that your “success” in this endeavor has little to no relation to the accuracy, veracity or even the honesty of the content of your “expertise.” It sounds cynical but for many of us it is a valuable reminder to not get hypnotized by the seeming novelty of new platforms.
Last month I was reading online about writing and publishing and the value (or lack of it) of blogging. One of the writers, I think it was Ryan Deiss, sounded in many ways like Social Media Is Bullshit but also used some of the concepts, like “influencers,” that Mendelson denies even exist. Somehow all of it added up to convince me that I want to just write and produce and be happy and authentic. And that is approximately the ultimate advice in Social Media Is Bullshit. I recommend it highly.
Addendum: I called the phone number he gives in the book (and on his web site, and he called me back in minutes - an unassuming and friendly author. I once took a position of Treasurer of a large union. My predecessor urged me to get an unlisted number, and I never regretted ignoring that device. Bravo for adding accessibility to transparency, B. J. Mendelson!

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