About B.J. Mendelson

B.J. Mendelson is a public speaker and author of the book, Social Media Is Bullshit. Mendelson first received attention in the early 2000s for being able to turn his financial struggles as a Millennial in The Great Recession into media coverage for himself. After an unsuccessful national breast cancer tour that depended on social media, and a similar tour that was successful with no social media component, B.J. went on to write a book called Social Media Is Bullshit about his experience.

 

He later earned additional media attention for frequently taking on prominent social media companies and social media experts. Mendelson is currently touring North America to speak on issues concerning the myths of social media marketing.

 

Career

The Breast Cancer Tour And Social Media Is Bullshit

After unsuccessfully applying for a job at Twitter in November of 2008, in February of 2009, Mendelson’s @BJMendelson account was featured on Twitter’s Suggested User List.[1] [2] The account was featured to promote a cross-country breast cancer awareness tour organized by Mendelson and the 1 in 8 Foundation to promote the early detection and prevention of breast cancer. [3] Mendelson cited his grandmothers and their respective battles of cancer as the inspiration behind the tour.[4] The breast cancer tour built off a previous project of Mendelson’s where he was collecting old electronics and recycling them for profit. Something that was also done throughout the tour.[5] Mendelson’s placement on the Twitter Suggested User List was controversial as he was the only non-brand, non-celebrity, non-media outlet to be placed on the list. In March 2009, B.J.offered to sell his spot on the Suggested User List to entrepreneur Jason Calacanis if Calacanis donated the $250,000 he offered Twitter for a spot on the Suggested User List to the 1 in 8 Foundation instead.[6] Twitter’s Ev Williams and Biz Stone would later veto the exchange between Mendelson and Calacanis. In interviews with the media, Mendelson frequently attributes the failure of the breast cancer tour to its dependence on social media marketing tactics, arguing that he did the same tour a year later, for Wounded Warriors Family Support*, to great success. The difference between the two tours, according to Mendelson, was the lack of dependence on social media marketing for the second tour and its use of publicity stunts.[7] [8] [9]

 

The failure of the breast cancer tour serves as the basis for Mendelson’s first book, Social Media Is BS. The book was published on September 4th, 2012 by St. Martin’s Press, with Mendelson appearing on Squawk Box on CNBC that morning to promote the book.[10]. Mendelson would then appear on CNN to talk about social media and its impact on the 2012 Presidential Election.[11] He would later appear on MSNBC as a “social media critic” to talk about Yelp’s alleged extortion tactics.[12] The book was received well by readers but met mixed reviews with critics with Kirkus Reviews, Uproxx, The Toronto Star, The New York Journal of Books, and others praising the book while The New Republic panned it. [13][14][15][16][17] Since publication, Mendelson continues to maintain an aggressive stance against social media experts, calling them out for what he states are deceptive business practices. Examples of this include Dave Kerpen and his admitted cheating ofThe New York Times Best Seller’s List for his first book, Likeable Social Media, and Gary Vaynerchuk’s promotion of social media companies he owns shares in while simultaneously selling services related to those companies to his clients.[18] [19]

Although a stand-up comedian by trade, B.J. Mendelson has appeared in various professional venues to talk about the myths of social media marketing, including an appearance at the United Nations to debate the ambassador to Pakistan, Hussain Haroon, about the larger effects of social media on society.[20] He has also appeared at South By Southwest Interactive, the Word of Mouth Marketing Summit, the National Automotive Dealers Association, and Social Media Explore to debate social media marketers.[21] [22] [23] Mendelson also tours college campuses and has appeared at Columbia University, Columbia College, New York University, Illinois State, and Alfred State College, among many others. [24] [25]

Self-Publishing Experiments And Dracula And Kittens

Mendelson was one of the first people in America to attempt to produce a novel one tweet at a time. Although he initially expressed doubt about the concept, he continued to publish a novel in this format called The War On Literacy between 2008 and 2010. The majority of The War On Literacy would later be incorporated into a self-published humor novel called Dracula And Kittens.[26] [27]

Dracula And Kittens moved from being tweeted to regularly blogged in October of 2009. The book is described by Mendelson as a mashup between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and his own warped sense of humor, making the story similar to previous public domain mashups including Quirk Books’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.[28] Mendelson cited his frustration over production problems with Social Media Is Bullshit for his reason to self-publish Dracula And Kittens instead of going through another traditional publisher.[29][30]

Mendelson has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Medium, CNN, Mashable, The Albany Times Union, The Huffington Post, Forbes, and had a syndicated college survival column syndicated to over 800 student newspapers through CBS College Sports.

Personal

B.J. Mendelson was born in Oyster Bay, New York, on April 25th, 1983, and attended Alfred State College and the State University of New York at Potsdam.[31] He is a 2001 graduate of Monore-Woodbury Senior High School. [32] On the September 27th, 2012 edition of CNN’s Early Start with Soledad O’Brien, Mendelson cited advice given to him by his history teacher at Monroe-Woodbury, Mr. Dames, for his success.[33]

Mendelson is known as a practitioner of a modified form of radical honesty and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.[34] [35] [36] Mendelson claims to have no political affiliation but told Newsweek that he changed his vote in the 2008 Presidential election because, “I wanted to be able to tell our future children that we voted for Obama.”[37]

In February of 2006 at SUNY Potsdam, Mendelson became the youngest individual, and first student, to create and endow a scholarship named for his grandfather, Oscar Cohen.[38] Mendelson was previously married to Amanda Morin, with whom he resided in Potsdam, New York, Glens Falls, New York, South Glens Falls, New York, and Albany, New York. B.J. met Amanda at SUNY Potsdam in August of 2005 when B.J. was Amanda’s resident assistant in the Lehman South dorm. Both worked as substitute teachers while B.J. also worked as a freelance marketing consultant who helped successfully promote the game, Humans Vs. Zombies, the syndicated television show, The Edge with Jake Sasseville, and a not-for-profit organization known as Wounded Warriors Family Support.[39] [40] [41] B.J. Mendelson was briefly a substitute teacher at William Hackett Middle School in Albany, New York while attending classes at the University at Albany to obtain a Master’s in American History. He also contributed to The Albany Student Press. In that time Mendelson also became known for publicity stunts which include getting his cat involved with coverage of the 2007 YouTube / CNN Presidential debates and selling empty bags of “fresh” Adirondack air.[42] [43][44]

Amanda would accompany B.J. on the ill-fated breast cancer tour. The failure of the first tour and the couple’s inability to find consistent work during The Great Recession put considerable strain on the marriage. The couple traded years financially supporting each other, with Amanda at one point making what little money they had. B.J. also went without health insurance, despite having heart problems. These conditions lead to the couple delaying having children.[45] [46] [47] At one point, B.J. worked as Santa Claus at the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, New York, to make ends meet.[48] Mendelson asked for a divorce in May 2012 stating that Amanda wanted to stay in Glens Falls, and that knew he couldn’t support her financially if he had stayed there.[49]

In the Fall of 2012, Mendelson briefly lived on the campus of SUNY Potsdam to research an idea he had for a film called Old Man On Campus, which he is developing while working on Dracula And Kittens.[50] [51] He is a 2006 graduate of the State University of New York at Potsdam with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. He also took two semesters of graduate work, studying Organizational Leadership and Development.

References

1. Brandon Griggs (October 2009). “5 Twitter Stars You Never Heard Of”.CNNhttp://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/26/unknown.twitter.stars

2. Humberto Martinez (August 2009). “An unlikely Twitter star”. Albany Times Union.http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/An-unlikely-Twitter-star-556883.php

3. Emily Fuggetta (February 2009). “Nonprofit organization raises breast cancer awareness”. The Independent Florida Alligatorhttp://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_c7a25aa0-ef7a-582e-8543-611479d196e2.html

4. B.J. Mendelson interviewed on KVRX 91.7fm in March of 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crgl_936PFQ.

5. Bill Briggs (November 2008). “Digital gold: Turning techno-junk into cash”. MSNBChttp://www.nbcnews.com/id/27668152/#.UcaE1D5AT4h

6. Michael Arrington (March 2009.) Hey Twitter, Here’s A Way To Call Jason’s Bluff And Maybe Fight Breast Cancer. TechCrunchhttp://techcrunch.com/2009/03/20/hey-twitter-heres-a-way-to-call-jasons-bluff-and-maybe-fight-breast-cancer/

7. Rose Tibayan (January 2013). Author / Critic Says B.S. To Social Media. Blackline Review.http://blacklinereview.com/bookshelf-author-critic-says-social-media-is-b-s/

8. Amanda Robinson (October 2012). “Potsdam university grad takes jab at social media in new book”. The Cornwall Dailyhttp://www.thecornwalldaily.com/news/cornwall/story.aspx?ID=1789114

9. Jian Ghomeshi (December 2012) “Is Social media ‘bs”? Q with Jian Ghomeshi. CBC Radio.http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2012/12/06/is-social-media-bullshit/

10. CNBC Staff (September 2012). “Social Media is Bull … What?.” CNBC Squawk Box.http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000113000&play=1

11. CNN Staff (September 2012). “The myth of social media? It won’t make you rich, says ‘Social Media Is BS’ author”. CNN Starting Pointhttp://startingpoint.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/17/the-myth-of-social-media-it-wont-make-you-rich-says-social-media-is-bull-author/

12. JJ Ramberg (June 2013). “Yelp Help: Negative Reviews Can Hurt Small Business”. MSNBC Your Businesshttps://www.openforum.com/videos/yelp-help-negative-reviews-can-hurt-small-businesses-part-2/

13. Kirkus Book Review of Social Media Is BS. Kirkushttps://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/bj-mendelson/social-media-is-bullshit/

14. James Rose (September 2012). “Social Media Is BS”. The New York Journal Of Books.http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/social-media-bullshit

15. Christopher Lombardo (December 2012). “Tweet Oblivion”. The Toronto Star.

16. Dan Seitz (October 2012). “Social Media Is Bullshit: An Angry, Amusing, And Pointed Book.”Uproxxhttp://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2012/10/social-media-is-bulls-angry-amusing-pointed/

17. Ann Friedman (September 2012. “The Me Meme: How Social Media Works-And Doesn’t”. The New Republic. hxxp://www.newrepublic.com/book/review/social-media-is-bullshit-kickstarter-handbook

18. B.J. Mendelson (November 2012): “Ever Wonder Why People Hate Social Media Marketers? Let Me Tell You A Story About Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media”. (This website)

19. B.J.Mendelson (May 2013): “With Yahoo! Buying Tumblr, How Much Does Social Media Marketer Gary Vaynerchuk Stand To Make?”.  Social Timeshttp://socialtimes.com/with-yahoo-buying-tumblr-how-much-does-social-media-marketer-gary-vaynerchuk-stand-to-make_b127367

20. Mendelson can be seen here debating the ambassador at the United Nations:http://webtv.un.org/favicon.ico/watch/social-media-is-anti-social-discussion-forum/1730791944001

21. Pooja Prasad (March 2013). “Day 2 at SXSW – All About Digital Marketing.” Adobe Featured Blogshttp://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/tag/bj-mendelson

22. Todd Schorle (October 2012). “Is Social Media BS? Watch the debate live at WOMMA Summit 2012.” Market Wiredhttp://www.marketwire.com/press-release/is-social-media-bs-watch-the-debate-live-at-womma-summit-2012-1720043.htm

23. Jason Falls (October 2012). Explore Portland: “The Awesomeness Conference”. Social Media Explorerhttp://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-speaker/explore-portland-the-awesomeness-conference/

24. A list of testimonial’s concerning B.J.Mendelson’s speaking appearances can be found here on the Macmillan Speakers website.

25. Mendelson’s presentation at Alfred State College without the Q & A can be found here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIPFbEdJKs8

26. Matthew Shaer (October 2008). “The Novel By Tweet”. The Christian Science Monitor.http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Tech-Culture/2008/1030/the-novel-by-tweet

27. Lydia Dishman (November 2009). “Will Tweet For A Book Deal.” Fast Company.http://www.fastcompany.com/1457314/will-tweet-book-deal

28. Doug Gruse (October 2009). “Kittens of the Night”. The Glens Falls Post-Star.http://poststar.com/lifestyles/kittens-of-the-night-blogger-spins-catty-dracula-stories/article_29980f30-c5cc-11de-ae69-001cc4c03286.html

29. B.J. Mendelson (May 2013). “Dracula And Kittens Chapter 1: Crime Knows No Color”.BJMendelson.com http://bjmendelson.com/2013/05/21/dracula-and-kittens-chapter-1-crime-knows-no-color/

30. About B.J. Mendelson: http://bjmendelson.com/about-b-j-mendelson/

31. Bob Garlick (June 2013) .”This Book Is Not Crap. Business Book Talk”. http://businessbooktalk.com/this-book-is-not-crap/

32. James Walsh (December 2012). “Monroe author says ‘old’ media useful for entrepreneurs”. The Times-Herald Recordhttp://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121202/BIZ/212020319&cid=sitesearch

33. CNN Staff. Best Advice: BJ Mendelson. CNN Early Start.http://earlystart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/27/best-advice-bj-mendelson/

34. Elizabeth Svoboda (March 2010) “Field Guide to the Truth Teller: I Cannot Tell A Lie”.Psychology Todayhttp://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201004/field-guide-the-truth-teller-i-cannot-tell-lie

35. Huffington Post Live (March 2013) “The Art of Lying”. The Huffington Post.http://videos.huffingtonpost.com/the-art-of-lying-517693905

36. Scott Rogowsky (March 2013) B.J. Mendelson interviewed by Scott Rogowsky. Running Late with Scott Rogowskyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Lm1nfzCAMj4#at=33

37. Jessica Bennet (November 2008) “Change You Can Conceive In”. Newsweek.http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/11/13/change-you-can-conceive-in.html

38. James R. Donnelly (January 2006) “Grandson’s Tribute”. The Watertown Daily Times.

39. Cat Thorenson (October 2006) “Zombies invade several colleges campuses”. The Hofstra Chroniclehttp://www.hofstrachronicle.com/2.1158/zombies-invade-several-college-campuses-1.56278#.UcaNqD5AT4h

40.  B.J.Mendelson’s IMDB Entry: http://pro.imdb.com/name/nm3205472/

41. Mendelson, B.J. 2012, Social Media Is BS, St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 1250002958. Pg. 168-179

42. Mary Anne Ostrom (July 2007) “YouTube debate changes rules.” The Seattle Times.http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2003801634_debate23.html

43. Matthew Hunter (October 2010) “A bunch of hot air? Local man bagging “fresh air” for a profit.”YNNhttp://mohawkvalley.ynn.com/content/story_links/521190/a-bunch-of-hot-air–local-man-bagging–fresh-air–for-a-profit/

44. Brandon Mendelson Archive at The Albany Student Press. http://www.albanystudentpress.org/search-1.1290225?ifByAuthor=true&sortOrder=newestFirst&q=author%3A%22Brandon+Mendelson%22&fq=page%3A2.4847

45. Adrienne Gibbs (January 2009). After Layoffs, Couples Wrestle With Role Reversal. Womens E-Newshttp://womensenews.org/story/marriagedivorce/090104/after-layoffs-couples-wrestle-role-reversal#.UcaPDj5AT4h

46.Roni Caryn Rabin (May 2010). “Big Gains For Young People In Healthcare Law”. The New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/health/25land.html

47. Jessica Guynn (December 2008). “Recession may set mood for baby bust”. The Los Angeles Timeshttp://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/10/business/fi-nokids10

48. David Taube (December 2010). “With jobs scarce, some seek work in red suit at Queensbury’s Aviation Mall. The Glens Falls Post Starhttp://poststar.com/news/local/with-jobs-scarce-some-seek-work-in-red-suit-at/article_b69cd834-fe47-11df-8ee6-001cc4c03286.html

49. Kelland Drumgoole (September 2012). “Author B.J. Mendelson explains why ‘social media is BS”. SoSoActivehttp://www.sosoactive.com/author-b-j-mendelson-explains-why-social-media-is-bullshit/

50. Andrew Keen (September 2012). “Keen On … B.J. Mendelson: Why Social Media Is BS”.TechCrunchhttp://techcrunch.com/2012/09/04/keen-on-b-j-mendelson-why-social-media-is-bullshit-tctv/

51. Will Hanson (November 2012). “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing.” The Will Hanson Show.http://www.thewilhansenshow.com/2012/11/12/aint-nothing-like-the-real-thing/

*Note: Wounded Warrior Family Support is not affiliated with Wounded Warrior Project. It is a separate 501(c)(3) founded in Omaha, Nebraska.

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