1. Where Can I Buy Social Media Is Bullshit?
“Social Media Is Bullshit” was published by St. Martin’s Press on September 4th, 2012, and is in stores in the UK, Canada, and the U.S. It’s also available in English in select countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.
Social Media Is Bullshit is also currently available in Spain and Latin America, and is also being translated into Polish.
If you’re going to buy “Social Media Is Bullshit” online, buy it from Amazon so you can leave a review after.
Honest, legitimate Amazon reviews and ratings go a long way toward helping the book sell more copies. Especially because all the publishers tacitly endorse authors buying fake ones, making the real ones count more.
And yes, since I brought it up, unlike pretty much every marketing and PR book: All 100+ of my reviews are real, and I did not bulk purchase my own book to trick The New York Times into listing me on their best seller list.
2. Isn’t it ironic that you use “social media” to criticize “social media”?
“Social media” is not a thing. Just like “Web 2.0″. That wasn’t a thing either. Cosmetics and usability aside (and even then, that’s stretching it), The Internet and the Web really haven’t changed much since the ’90s.
In a lot of ways, the Internet and the Web are a lot like Burger King. Sure, some of the stores look different now, and the menu might get a few additions here and there, but you’re still more or less eating the same stuff they’ve served up since 1953.
The only difference is that the some unscrupulous marketers, journalists, and PR professionals came along, dressed things up a bit, and gave some of the products different names so they can charge you gobs of money to learn about stuff you’re either already using or don’t even need.
To be clear: The decision to use a platform or tool online should be determined by:
1. Your customer data.
2. Your budget.
3. Your time and other resources.
You should not use any of these tools because Gary Vaynerchuck, who has no credibility, told you too, or because the media keeps talking about how wonderful they are, or because you see your friends are doing it. All of these people are wrong.
The people who are consistently telling you how great and wonderful social media is, and why you should absolutely 100% be using it, make up what I like to call “The Asshole Based Economy”.
3. What is “The Asshole Based Economy”?
“The Asshole Based Economy” describes the process of an asshole (marketers, journalists, PR professionals, analysts, Cyber Hipsters, the companies who own these tools, and other assorted bad actors) repackaging old stuff in a new way in order to further their own financial interests.
What we really have to work with when those people say “social media” are tools. Mostly the same old tools that we’ve had in various forms since the early ’90s.
These tools may or may not be good for you to use. There are no “good” or “bad” tools, it all depends on how you use them, whether or not you want to use them in the first place (you really don’t have to), and whether your audience is using them.
For example, I use most of the “Big Six” (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, and
FourSquare Pinterest) because I know my target audience, college juniors and seniors majoring in PR and marketing, use these platforms actively. So for me, it makes sense to be there. But that might not be true for you.
Yet here we are with dozens and dozens of assholes like Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuck, Brian Solis, Scott Monty, Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Amy Jo Martin, Dave Kerpen, and many others, telling us that’s not the case, and by doing so, they make a comfortable living in the process.
We live in a world where it’s far easier to make money telling people how to get rich using the Internet than it is to actually get rich using it.
(*Note: Not all marketers, analysts, companies, and journalists are bad. Just the ones who are deliberately fueling the hype for their own financial gain.)
4. What is a Cyber-Hipster? Are You One?
Cyber-Hipsters are not Cyber-Utopians. Cyber-Utopians are people who think technology is going to change everything, has changed everything, and can solve all of life’s problems. If that’s what someone wants to believe? More power to them. I think Cyber-Utopians are fucking annoying, on part with most Atheists, but they’re not the ones I’m after.
A Cyber-Hipster though is someone of little discernable talent in the field they’re discussing, who hops on the latest technological craze, and then talks about how it’s going to “change everything”, without any (or suspect) evidence, in order to further their financial agenda through speaking engagements, book deals, and generating page views to please their (or their employer’s) advertisers.
I am not a Cyber-Hipster. I have successfully used almost every online platform that has debuted since 1999, with one notable failure which the book is based around. Online (and offline) marketing and PR is something I am very good at, as my track record would verify:
-Since 2001, I have operated a successful small business. For many years, that small business operated in my dorm room at Alfred State College (C3D3 Mackenzie North) and at SUNY Potsdam (423 Lehman South, then in 608 Lehman South. Both on the West side of the building.)
-While running that business, I booked 55 sold out shows up and down the East Coast using only the Internet to promote them. (There’s two exceptions: I did a show in Newburgh, New York, at the Golden Rail, and at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 2002 and advertisements for both shows ran on 92.7fm WRRV.)
-In 2006 I created a successful viral campaign called National Zombie Day to help spread the game of Humans Vs. Zombies to college campuses across America. This initiative was picked up by Fark, College Humor, GorillaMask, and select media outlets.
-In 2007, not only did I successfully get my cat, Molly, involved in the presidential election coverage that was going on, I also conducted a successful viral campaign for The Edge With Jake Sasseville, which successfully got the show on to ABC affiliates and into 40 million homes each week when it aired.
-In 2009, I conducted the breast cancer tour that’s discussed in Social Media Is Bullshit’s last chapter. What’s not mentioned is that I did the same exact tour a year later, in 2010, this time for Wounded Warriors Family Support, and the tour went on to become a major success that they continue to operate to this very day.
The difference between the two tours? I took out the emphasis on social media which is what the breast cancer tour was built on.
-And finally, with Social Media Is Bullshit in 2012, on zero dollars spent, we sold over seven thousand copies, received over 100+ REAL reviews on Amazon (the majority of which are positive), and the book continues to sell long after publication purely through word of mouth.
On a similar note though, I do not consider myself to be an expert because that would imply I’ve stopped learning all there is to know about my field and that is not the case.
I am still learning. I make mistakes, and I am not always right. You will never hear me refer to myself as a guru, ninja, rocket scientist, or Jedi. I actually really dislike it when people describe me with any of those terms.
5. What is “Social Media Is Bullshit” about?
“Social Media Is Bullshit” is a guided tour through the bullshit factory that is the social media industry. You’ll see how their primary product, bullshit, is made, who is selling it, and how they’ve been getting away with selling bullshit since 2007.
In some ways, the social media industry is a lot like Wall Street, repackaging and selling crap in the hope that you don’t notice, all the while making themselves rich in the process. (See: “Confidence Men” by Ron Suskind for more details on that.)
Using big companies like Ford is a tactic social media marketers employ despite all the evidence showing that not only does what work for corporations like Ford not work for you, but there are many instances where it doesn’t work for them either. You can see social media guru Chris Brogan do this in his book, “Trust Agents”, with General Motors.
(You’ll also notice that, depending on who at Ford you talk to, the answer changes. If you ask Ford’s social media guru, Scott Monty, he’ll tell you how wonderful social media has been for Ford. If you ask someone else at the company, they might point to the failure of the Ford Fiesta Movement and say otherwise.)
That’s not to say talking about what Ford is doing has no merit, but it’s the presentation of “If Ford is doing this, so should you” where we should be drawing the line. Unfortunately, some social media marketers don’t do that.
That packaging and selling of bullshit is currently fueling an economic ecosystem where the “assholes” are benefitting by harming others with bad information.
In the book, I also share some things I’ve learned from publishing and marketing content on the Web successfully since 2002.
6. What have critics said about this book?
As you might have guessed …
-Social media marketers fucking hated it.
-Members of the national media refused to talk about it for a variety of reasons (they thought I was edgy, they didn’t like that there was a swear word in the title, they didn’t agree with the premise, and in more than a few cases, they “didn’t want to offend the people at Facebook and Twitter”.)
-Everyone else loved it.
The primary thing I saw played out from marketers, tech companies, tech reporters, and other true believers of “social media” is something I call “Attack & Distract”.
You can see an example of that here involving arguably the tech community’s most disliked journalist, Dave Copeland
And another example here featuring Ann Friedman. It’s worth nothing that Chris Hughes, who is the editor-in-chief and publisher of The New Republic, is one of the co-founders of Facebook. Take that for what it’s worth.
All you have to do is write something knocking “social media” or any of these tech companies and individuals, and you’ll see “Attack & Distract” play out for yourself.
(Unless you’re The Onion and you do something like this. Then those same people think you’re brilliant and hilarious.)
That’s been the go to response every time I or anyone criticizes ”social media” or whatever it is that these people are hyping. It’s always personal attacks, no facts, and bad logic. Every. Single. Time.
I’m not a cynic or a curmudgeon. I’m actually pretty optimistic about what the Internet and the Web can do for people. But. I don’t think people can take advantage of the things the Web and Internet can do for them until we clear up this bullshit that distracts them and wastes their money.
This book is meant to clean up that bullshit.
I’m not the first guy to call out the “social media” industry, and I won’t be the last, but that’s not the point of the book. The point is to clean up the bullshit so people can go back to doing what they’re good at: Making stuff.
7. Aren’t you going to get rich off this? Doesn’t that make you part of “The Asshole Based Economy” you’re talking about in the book?
There’s nothing wrong with packaging and selling information. That is how many “knowledge workers” make their living. There is something wrong with packaging and selling harmful information to further your own interests at the expense of someone else. That’s what it means to participate in “The Asshole Based Economy”.
By packaging and selling honest information, and by clearly stating there are things I do not know and that much research is needed on the part of readers and listeners to make the best decision that’s right for them, I am not participating in the Asshole Based Economy.
(I’m a practitioner of a modified form of Radical Honesty too. So, misleading and lying to people isn’t my thing. Life is too short to lie to people.)
This is also not my chosen line of work. I will do everything I can to bring in some much needed income, but the first chance I get to do what I want to be doing for a living? I’m a ghost.
Anyone who tells you writing a book will make you rich clearly has never written a book before. The truth is, you starve while writing it, you go broke promoting it, and you don’t see dime one until you make back your advance. Something most authors fail to do since most books don’t sell more than 500 copies according to Publishers Weekly.
So yes, you will see me doing speaking engagements for a limited amount of time while I develop my exit strategy.
8. So why’d you write “Social Media Is Bullshit” and not finish “Dracula And Kittens”?
“Social Media Is Bullshit” exists because I thought the truth needed to be told, and I think it’s a moral imperative to do the right thing by standing up to bullies, like some of these marketers and Cyber Hipsters, and warning people of the bullshit they produce so efficiently.
I knew that, one way or another, I’d get to publish “Dracula And Kittens”, but that people were getting screwed over now and getting the truth out there couldn’t wait.
I will get to publish Dracula & Kittens, under its new name, hopefully in the not too distant future.
9. Did You Really Put Your Own Phone Number In Your Book?
It’s 518-832-9844. The first print run of the book has a typo, so the number is wrong. This will be fixed in future editions and translations.
There’s also a small group of other typos in the first print run. I now jokingly refer to this as “Typogate”. These typos were introduced by the copy-editors at St. Martin’s before the book went to press. I know this because both I and the editor checked our versions of the manuscript and those typos did not exist, and the phone number was correct.
Obviously, this blows, but you should be aware of it. So … although my number is actually listed in the book, due to the typo, it’s technically wrong. The correct number is here, and yes, you can call me any time.
10. Where is the Internet going / What is the future of “social media”?
I keep getting asked this question by the media. I have no idea why. I don’t have an answer for you, and I think anyone who claims to have one is an asshole.
11. Wait! I have more questions!
Call me: 518-832-9844. If I don’t answer, I’ll call you back. Or you can email email@example.com. Don’t try on Twitter though. The odds are I’ll be an ass to you and then go back to posting about professional wrestling and Wonder Woman porn.