With a title like Social Media Is Bullshit, B.J. Mendelson created a bit of a Rorschach test with his new book. Depending on how you feel about social media, or your role in using it for business, you’ll either love or hate his arguments.
But the truth is more complicated than that. Mendelson injects more actual Internet history (and yes, there is history) into his POV than any other book on social media I’ve read. Which is great to see — because it reminds us that even the newest social tools have been tried in some form before. And it’s clear to see history is repeating itself, even if the names have changed. Another major argument he makes is that some of the biggest social media successes had a boost — from either an offline media property, the power of celebrity or large business, or a little timing and pluck.
But one of the biggest targets of Mendelson’s writing, and derision, is the general circle-jerk ecosystem that’s sprung up around social: The self-proclaimed gurus who write “how-to” books, then go to conferences where they get to speak (and said books are distributed), and the companies suckered into buying some of their “consulting” or sending employees to these conferences. They all feed on each other, with little benefit to those looking in from outside.
Overall, the book is little scattered, jumping from point to point a little too haphazardly. But Mendelson does a thorough job footnoting his sources, even attributing quotes to specific conversations. It’s a good reality check, and very welcome wrench in the hype machine.