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Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook Paperback – Dec 2 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (Dec 2 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593271999
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593271992
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.9 x 22.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #391,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo have run social media marketing campaigns for national retailers like Best Buy, Future Shop and Brother International. They've been quoted as experts on social media on the CBC and BBC, and in Wired magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other magazines, TV, and radio programs. Founders of Northern Voice, Canada's social media conference, they regularly speak around North America on social media, marketing, and emerging technology. Darren has 10,000 daily readers at DarrenBarefoot.com.

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Format: Paperback
Barefoot and Szabo are collaborators of mine on lots of projects so, of course, I'm biased. But I really do think this is the best book on social media marketing. The difference with this book is that the case studies also provide some real stats that help readers gauge how their own program compares. Although the baseline will be different for every company, at least there are some numbers here so that readers can see what's reasonable. I also like that the writing style is friendly and concise. I clipped through this book in a couple of days, and as a marketer, I found lots of inspiring tidbits, so it's not just a book for newbies.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 23 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Social Media Marketing Handbook Nov. 24 2009
By Chris Abraham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I started my social media mar­ket­ing firm three years ago I had an advan­tage. By autumn, 2006, I had passed through New Media Strate­gies as Tech­nol­ogy Strate­gist and Edelman's elite Pub­lic Affairs Online Advo­cacy team. Even so, my busi­ness part­ner, Mark Har­ri­son, and I made a lot of mis­takes, walked through mine fields, and even­tu­ally started tak­ing more hills than we lost. I started Abra­ham Har­ri­son almost exactly three years ago and I would have really appre­ci­ated Friends with Ben­e­fits: A Social Media Mar­ket­ing Hand­book by Dar­ren Bare­foot and Julie Szabo. Actu­ally, I am kind of bummed that I didn't write this book myself because I cer­tainly could have and should have -- but I didn't. (Via Mar­ket­ing Con­ver­sa­tion)

Friends with Ben­e­fits spoke to me because I have "lonely nerd" deep inside of me and this book goes all the way back into the yes­ter­years of 80s com­put­ing when I, too, was surf­ing the proto-Inter­net via a 1200-baud modem. Like the book asserts in chap­ter one, we lonely nerds weren't lonely, "the early BBSs were actu­ally very social" and so were we. Fast-forward from the early 80s -- when I was doing dial-up and geek­ing out in Hon­olulu Bul­letin Board Sys­tems -- twenty years and "social media" is invented. No, re-invented.

Dar­ren Bare­foot and Julie Szabo get it and they lay it all out into this book and basi­cally wrote the book on start­ing and build­ing Abra­ham Har­ri­son -- or a firm or agency like it -- from scratch. And not just start­ing an agency but inte­grat­ing social media mar­ket­ing into your adver­tis­ing or PR agency or even adding smart social media capac­ity into your big, medium or even small busi­ness. I am impressed.

Accord­ing to the book, "social media mar­ket­ing is using social media chan­nels to pro­mote your com­pany and its prod­ucts. This type of mar­ket­ing should be a sub­set of your online mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties, com­ple­ment­ing tra­di­tional web-based pro­mo­tional strate­gies like email newslet­ters and online adver­tis­ing cam­paigns. Social media mar­ket­ing qual­i­fies as a form of viral or word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing." The goal of Friends with Ben­e­fits is to take social media, social media mar­ket­ing, viral mar­ket­ing, and word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing and answer "so what" and "what now?"

What I like about this book is that it is not a book on Twit­ter or Face­book. It answers what and why with a how that is com­pre­hen­sive and includes geekier-but-essential top­ics such as RSS, cor­po­rate blog­ging, and even social media news releases. The real value of the book kicks in in chap­ter 3, "Flag­ging a Ride: Find­ing the Right Blog­gers and Com­mu­ni­ties" when the book goes into the explicit details sur­round­ing blog­ger dis­cov­ery, blog­ger prospect­ing, how to choose the right blog and blog­ger based on their type (per­sonal, top­i­cal, or cor­po­rate) and pop­u­lar­ity (size mat­ters), includ­ing how best to judge blog­gers and blogs using var­i­ous ana­lyt­ics and met­rics tools like [...], Alexa Rank­ing, Google PR, and Tech­no­rati Rank. And from more instinc­tual reviews such as check­ing out Google Trends, men­tions on Google, the num­ber of RSS sub­scribers on Feed­burner, men­tions on blogrolls, pop­u­lar­ity on Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed, fre­quency of post­ing, vol­ume of com­ments, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, etc.

Chap­ter 4 addresses Neti­quette, some­thing that a lot of books give very lit­tle lip ser­vice to -- a small sac­ri­fice to Inter­net pro­to­col. Friends with Ben­e­fits offers quite a solid list of lessons in net­ti­quette: Lis­ten first, take baby steps, make friends, lay your cards on the table, blog­gers aren't jour­nal­ists, your rep­u­ta­tion pre­cedes you, don't be a social media spam­mer, and don't fib -- prob­a­bly the most seri­ous list I have found, and one that I have learned needs to be taken dead-seriously. I tried to sug­gest my favorites, but they're all impor­tant to con­sider, although mak­ing friends -- spend­ing time together out­side the office, if you will -- is prob­a­bly one of the most impor­tant because when you reach out to any­one for help, espe­cially when it is earned media (mean­ing you're not pay­ing these blog­gers -- or any­one -- to write about you or your client), they're going to ask, "who the hell are you?" and "do I know you?" If you're nobody they know, peo­ple are more likely to not make deci­sions that are com­pas­sion­ate or human, they're more likely to just assume that you're not much bet­ter than a bot -- don't let them.

Chap­ter 5 deals with the social media pitch. Make it com­pelling, rel­e­vant, timely, exclu­sive, per­sonal, brief, com­pre­hen­sive, con­ver­sa­tional, linked, access, and offers an incen­tive (or gift, in our par­lance). This is exactly the list I would have writ­ten -- this is the list my team would have writ­ten, too. There are also warn­ing about blo­gola (pay­ola) and other unto­ward things not to do, includ­ing best prac­tices in follow-up. In fact, the value-add of this list is amaz­ing and with a lit­tle help you could very well use Friends with Ben­e­fits as a play-book for your bur­geon­ing (or suf­fer­ing) social media prac­tice -- and the only rea­son I am proud instead of threat­ened is that my com­pany actu­ally offers all the doing of the work for our clients and not just social media con­sult­ing. That said, this book is going to put a hell of a lot of social media experts (SME) out to pas­ture when their bosses read this book and learn that their direc­tor of social media doesn't know what he's doing. I rec­om­mend this book to all the SMEs out there -- read this before your boss does.

Chap­ter 6 is titled "Mea­sur­ing Suc­cess: How to Mon­i­tor the Web." This chap­ter answers quite a few ques­tions about defin­ing suc­cess and return on invest­ment (ROI), the holy grails of social media mar­ket­ing and the rea­son why too many com­pa­nies who need SMM are hes­i­tant to take the next step, boldly. What's smart about this chap­ter is that Bare­foot and Szabo tell it like it is: you need to ask your client and your­self how you define suc­cess. Are you inter­ested in brand-building? Grow­ing traf­fic? Con­ver­sion to sales? Social media men­tions? Increased buzz? How are you going to do this? Mon­i­tor­ing? Lis­ten­ing? The issue of man­ag­ing expec­ta­tions is also raised. Unlike ban­ner ads, that turn on or off like a tap, social media mar­ket­ing can be a slow-burn. Being "real­is­tic" and "hum­ble" are rec­om­mended. Then, after dis­cussing what suc­cess could be, Friends with Ben­e­fits dis­cusses web mon­i­tor­ing and how to keep track of your suc­cesses and fail­ures and then how to follow-up. Fol­low­ing up is key. Mov­ing the rela­tion­ship for­ward it key, too. Blog­gers -- indeed every­one -- hates being used and there are too many exam­ples of a win, a suc­cess, and a post not being followed-up with a neigh­borly thank you in the form of a pri­vate email or a pub­lic com­ment. Remem­ber how your momma told you to be polite and to write a thank you note? Well, come on! Make momma proud.

Chap­ter 7 addresses risk. And there are risks, such as the cam­paign not get­ting off the ground, blog­ger back­lash, the crowd talks back, you get rejected, your ini­tia­tive dies on the vine, you put all your eggs in social media and your other chan­nels shrivel, not being proac­tive (or stay­ing in front of it), you will be mea­sures, some­one gets cold feet in the orga­ni­za­tion and the cam­paign is killed, or even get too much suc­cess too soon and you col­lapse -- #fail -- under its weight. Good advice at the end: pro­ceed with cau­tion, not cow­ardice." In my expe­ri­ence, cam­paigns fail from lack of com­mit­ment -- from fear and cow­ardice. Before you get out there to engage, you had bet­ter be will­ing to com­mit: be brave.

Chap­ter 8 deals with dam­age con­trol and cri­sis man­age­ment and is short and sweet, deal­ing with how to deal with crises with a use­ful cri­sis man­age­ment primer. There's too much stuff in there that I can't be pitch here but they do rec­om­mend that it is essen­tial to keep head of the cri­sis: cre­ate a cri­sis response doc­u­ment, cre­ate a response blog and social media plat­form (and rep­u­ta­tion) right now instead of after the cri­sis occurs (though it is never too late) and be will­ing to engage and not hide down at the bot­tom of the spi­der hole.

I am going to go through the rest of the book faster because I really believe that the most impor­tant book comes in the first 8 chap­ters. Chap­ter 9 reminds us that MySpace is still amaz­ingly rel­e­vant with about 125 mil­lion users world­wide and needs to be respected and the mem­bers can and should be engaged if appro­pri­ate. Same thing with Chap­ter 10 on the sub­ject of Face­book, offer­ing case stud­ies, includ­ing a case study my firm took part in: Sharp's [...] cam­paign on Face­book done for Lowe NY. Chap­ter 11 deals with [...] and other video-sharing sites. And Chap­ter 12 briefly addresses microblog­ging and Twit­ter. Each of these chap­ters are brief primers, deal­ing a lit­tle bit with appli­ca­tions, with wid­gets, with cul­ture and pro­to­col, and a lit­tle about marketing.

To me, chap­ters 8-12 are throw-aways. If you're look­ing for a book on Twit­ter mar­ket­ing, there are bet­ter more com­pre­hen­sive guides. To avoid chap­ters 8-12 would have been too much of an omis­sion and social net­works sys­tems are too sexy right now to leave out; how­ever this book is invalu­able and there's noth­ing like it out there in terms of a real­is­tic por­trayal of what works and what doesn't. This books teaches you to mea­sure twice and cut once and to trains the reader up on the cul­ture, the expec­ta­tions, and pro­to­col of the social web. Folks online are not num­bers or clicks or even con­sumers, they're peo­ple and they're hav­ing -- and have had -- lots of par­ties, socials, and get-togethers before you ever got there and you need to be very respect­ful of the them and their cur­rent con­ver­sa­tion and when and if to interrupt.

This book isn't out yet. You'll have to wait as I reviewed an advance gal­ley of the final book. What I would do is pre-order the book -- it is sure to be some­thing you will con­sume and maybe keep to your­self as your very own com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. Now that I see that the book was pro­duced by No Starch Press I kick myself again -- I pitched them on this book three years ago. Oh well, like I said at the begin­ning of this post, the best man and woman won.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where's the sleazy stuff? Nov. 30 2009
By Anthony Lawrence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I know that I should do more social media marketing for my own business. I do some, but I don't really do all that I could.

The reason is that I have a distaste for spammy marketing. You know, "get 4 gazillion Facebook followers!" and all that sort of thing. The sleazy Internet marketers have really turned me off.

On the other hand, I am reminded of a young women who does Tweets for a few local businesses here. She announces restaurant specials, provides links of interest for the people who follow her husbands computer repair business, and just does amusing reminders every now and then. I follow her tweets because I want to know about the things she posts. It's not annoying - she's doing it the right way, and that's exactly the sort of thing that this book suggests.

There's nothing spammy here, nothing that makes me uncomfortable (and I'm more than a little squeamish on this subject). Anyone with a business, whether it's Big Business or just you working out of your living room, can benefit from the advice in this book. No sleaze, just practical advice about how to market well using social media.

This would be a great introduction for anyone who can't imagine why Twitter, Facebook et al. could be good for business, but it will also be useful for fine tuning the efforts of those who are already using the Web to enhance their marketing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get a handle on Social Network Marketing Jan. 1 2010
By Dave Kinnear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Despite the whimsical and provocative title, Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo have produced a serious and useful handbook for Social Media Marketing. Written in clear "layman's terms," the authors take us through the "what is and why social networking" questions and then on to which ones, how they work and which markets each one might best address.

In addition to explaining how the reader might go about getting social network ready, the authors go about explaining some very interesting points about "netiquette." I've been around the web for a long time and this particular section was of interest to me. It confirmed many of my own hard earned beliefs and went onto point out a few new ways in which I might change what I do so that I avoid unintentionally put off others. Since the point of Social Network is to provide value to others, it makes no sense to offend.

There is a significant amount of information on "damage control." One of the most important things to remember is that whether or not we are active on the web, the web can be very active on us! The authors point out that unless you are watching what's being said about your company or you as an individual, you may be blindsided by customer issues (rightly or wrongly accusing your company) that are being blogged about in a very public manner. So guidelines are given for how to monitor the web not only for news about you, but to measure success for any marketing campaigns you might run.

Each of several of the major social networking sites has a chapter of its own to explain how it got started, who is using it and how it works. Blogs and how to find them, My Space, Facebook, YouTube and other video sharing sites, and of course Twitter are all covered. In addition, the authors cover the "Power of Crowds" and why Social Media Marketing is what we need to be doing if we want to reach the maximum numbers of people. They cover the social news phenomenon (the serious Bloggers and their relationship to the fourth estate), Flickr and why we should care about their existence.

In short, this is the book many of the business folks I've met have been waiting for. It will ease them into understanding why Social Network Marketing is critical to many businesses going forward and helps them understand a medium about which many of them are still quite ignorant. Ignorance is fine, it can be fixed - and this book will quickly get you on the right path.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read on social media marketing Aug. 25 2010
By Loren Woirhaye - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The way I see it, there's a lot of excessive optimism in the
material out there on Social Media. There's a lot of
cheerleading about the free advertising and the engagement
with customers, but not enough acknowledgement of the
enormous investment of skilled man-hours many social media
tactics require to bear fruit.

Social Media boosters may be aware that real marketers want
to know what the ROI will be, and to please us they have
some convenient, practiced answers. The truth is you cannot
realistically outsource your company's social media branding
to people earning $2 an hour who don't have a reason to care
if your company looks stupid. If you go for the bottom-rung,
quantity-over-quality approach to social media you'll get a
messy result. The other alternative, as in most advertising,
is to put the right MONEY into social media. Since
intelligent employees who "get it" must be paid, and since
social media is a time-consuming type of marketing, you
won't be getting free advertising the way you're hoping.

This book is excellent. My expectations were low, because
much of what I read on social media marketing hypes the free
advertising and avoids addressing the labor-intensity of it.
This book is a breath of fresh air because it addresses real
problems that can and will occur in social media marketing
and how to deal with them.

Now that I've had my rant, I'll just recommend the book with
a 5 star (a rating I'm getting stingier and stingier with).
That means it's really useful stuff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Practical Manual with Marketing Advice from Two Social Media Experts Jan. 6 2010
By David J. Perdue - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In case you haven't heard, social media marketing is the new way to be doing marketing these days. Unfortunately, many companies are afraid of those oh so terrible risks involved when entering the realm of social media. But authors Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo get it right when they say, "The real risk is pretending that the social media revolution isn't happening. That only puts you further behind your competitors and impedes your relationship with existing and new customers" (p. 129). Right on. I couldn't agree more.

So you know you need to get involved in social media marketing. How? "Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook" is a great resource to begin with. Throughout the book, I definitely got the sense that the author's are speaking from experience. Many of the suggestions seem carefully thought out, ones that the authors tried themselves.

The first few chapters help you to understand what social media is and why it's important. Then the book dives into a discussion of how to enter communities, develop relationships with bloggers, and successfully build social capital with your target market. I thought the advice on how to contact bloggers about your products without seeming like a spammer was particularly helpful.

The author's also included chapters on online repuation management, metrics (i.e., measuring your online marketing success), MySpace, Facebook, video marketing, Twitter, and "participating in online communities" (info on using social news sites, social bookmarking sites, etc.).

One of the things I most appreciated about the book was the authors' frankness about the pitfalls of social media marketing. Don't get me wrong: the authors don't waste chapters expounding the dangers of social media marketing. (As I mentioned, the biggest danger is doing nothing about social media.) Rather, they make sure to point out some common mistakes along the way. Avoid these mistakes, and you'll save yourself from having some enormous headaches later on.

If you're looking for some solid information on how to begin your social media marketing efforts, "Friends with Benefits" will not disappoint. Even if you already have experience in this area, you're sure to find useful bits of wisdom.