Book Review – Marketing to the Social Web by Larry Weber

Marketing and selling over the Web has been a required activity for almost every business I have been involved in for over ten years. In the last couple of years, the web has continued to evolve and now in some undeniably novel ways. The most notable are the appearance and enormous growth of “communities” or “social networks”. It is clear that the existing web marketing paradigm that focuses on pay-for-click advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) is being enormously enriched by the opportunities presented by social or community oriented environments. This later change requires real shifts in the approach and objectives for marketing on the web.

Just as I have begun to attempt my own synthesis of these changes, I have come upon Marketing to the Social Web: how digital communities build your business by Larry Weber (John Wiley & Sons, New York 2007). The author has extensive experience in the Web world and provides more than enough examples and anecdotes to illustrate his case.

The basic argument of the book is that the interactivity of the web is now producing completely new ways in which companies and customers can interact.

Weber develops seven steps to marketing on the social web:

  1. Observe – see where, what and how your customers do in the social web. Check out blogs, conversations, relevant content, etc.
  2. Recruit – enlist core participants who want to talk about your company, its products and services.
  3. Evaluate platforms – which platforms are best to reach your marketing objectives – blogs, reputation aggregators, social networks?
  4. Engage – this is all about developing and maintaining content – user generated and yours.
  5. Measure – develop metrics relevant to the objectives and measure.
  6. Promote – connect with other communities in the web.
  7. Improve.

Weber provides lots of discussion and anecdotes to illustrate each of these seven steps. Then he adds four strategies to expanding the reach of marketing on the social network – (1) SEO, (2) blogs, (3) e-communities, and (4) social networks.

This book is a solid contribution to understanding and participating in the ongoing development of the web world. This is esepcially so for creating a more productive balance between traditional web marketing, pay-for -click advertising and SEO, and the emerging world of the social web.