Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks)

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Yes, you do have to be liked by everyone!

Real friends communicate with honesty, listen closely, and aren't afraid to admit when they're wrong. If you want to succeed in social media, you have to behave the same way.

Likeable Social Media provides 18 strategies for creating an authentic “brand personality” through Facebook and other social media platform.

Dave Kerpen, a leading thought leader in social-media ...

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Yes, you do have to be liked by everyone!

Real friends communicate with honesty, listen closely, and aren't afraid to admit when they're wrong. If you want to succeed in social media, you have to behave the same way.

Likeable Social Media provides 18 strategies for creating an authentic “brand personality” through Facebook and other social media platform.

Dave Kerpen, a leading thought leader in social-media marketing, reveals the secrets to building a brand's popularity by being authentic, engaging, and transparent on Facebook and other social media sites. You'll learn the same methods he has used to successfully redefine the brands of a number of large companies, including including, Neutrogena, and Verizon FiOS.

Complete with serious strategies communicated with wit and humor, Likeable Social Media is the definitive source for using social media to win new customers, gather valuable feedback, and increase the bottom line.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071762342
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 364,637
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Media (formerly theKBuzz) a social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm. Dave is one of the leading experts on social media and Facebook marketing. Dave and his work have been featured on CNBC's "On the Money", ABC World News Tonight, the CBS Early Show, The New York Times, and countless blogs. In 2010, he spoke at dozens of conferences including the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Summit. This past year, his firm has expanded exponentially, with new offices, and new clients, including Heineken, Neutrogena, Cumberland Farms, Uno Chicago Grill, Verizon,, and stride rite. Likeable Media now manages the presence of over 250 brands on Facebook, and other social media sites. Dave is proud to be one of just 48 of Facebook's Preferred Developer Consultants and prouder to be the 3-time WOMMY award winner from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, but he is proudest of his 2 daughters at home, Charlotte and Kate.

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Read an Excerpt

likeable social media

How to DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMERS, Create an IRRESISTIBLE BRAND, and Be Generally AMAZING ON FACEBOOK (and other social networks)


Copyright © 2011 Dave Kerpen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-07-176950-1

Chapter One

Listen First, and Never Stop Listening

You are angry.

You just got a letter in the mail from your car insurance company explaining it will cover only half the cost of the recent work you did on your car following an accident. You're out $700, which stinks, but more important, you're wondering why you pay these high monthly premiums if not to cover situations just like this. So you call the company, and you're placed on hold for 30 minutes. Finally you get a representative, who says, "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do. This is the policy." As you sit there, frustrated and dejected, the telephone representative feeds you the next line in the script: "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"Of course not," you think. "How about paying for my car repairs? Maybe you should spend a little bit less money on your stupid TV ads I see all day and a little more time on your customer service." It's so frustrating not feeling listened to.

You post on Facebook or Twitter: "My car insurance company _____ sucks. Same old story." A few minutes later, you get a notification that someone responded to your post. Surprisingly, you click to find a written response from your car insurance company: "We hear you. Please send us a quick e-mail with the particular issue, and we'll get to the bottom of it as quick as we can." Somehow, you already feel a little bit better about the situation.

Did the company respond so positively only because you posted publicly? Maybe. The point is, a representative realized your frustration with the company's services and was forced to take notice of your post. Companies can no longer afford to ignore their customers' specific needs or complaints when the conversation can so easily be made public. Instead, they must listen, understand the issue, and respond appropriately.


Communication is 50 percent listening and 50 percent talking. Yet for many years, companies large and small have done a disproportionate amount of talking, shouting even. Customer service representatives, marketing researchers, and focus group organizers may listen, but budgets for these "listening" activities amount to little compared to the money spent on mass media "talking." For the first time in our history, now, through social media, companies can listen at scale to conversations about them and their competitors.

You have a front seat to spontaneous chatter of interest to your business. You have the ability to check in on prospective customers or prospects discussing problems your company solves or listen to existing customers talk about unrelated issues just to get to know them better. Checking in on your vendors, partners, or even your competitors' customers has never been easier. The amount of data you can gather and the number of conversations you can tap into through social media is nothing short of mind-boggling.

As tempting as it may be to "join the conversation" on social networks, Facebook and Twitter simply aren't broadcast media. They're engagement media, or listening networks. Besides, how can you possibly know what to talk about in any conversation until you listen, at least a little bit?

Ask anyone who has ever dated or been in a successful relationship how important it is not only to listen to your partner but to show him or her that you are truly listening. The guy on that first date who talks incessantly and does not listen strikes out every time. So does the woman at the cocktail party who only talks about herself. Increasingly, same goes for the company that spends most of its marketing dollars talking and little time or money listening. Social media is the first communications channel that allows for such listening in large scale, and no matter what you sell or market, your customers are definitely talking.

Listen first before you talk back. You can join the conversation as a listener.


If and when customers or prospects acknowledge that you're listening, you immediately strengthen your relationships with them. We'll talk more about responding later, but clearly the ability to not only listen but also to acknowledge others makes them feel heard, which makes them happier, which is always a good thing. Even if you can't acknowledge customers (as is the case for highly regulated industries such as pharmaceutical and financial companies in which only professionals can legally supply appropriate responses, if they can legally respond at all), there are other benefits to listening. A better understanding of how your customers use your products (or don't use them) can help you make critical changes to your offerings and to how you communicate about them. You can also uncover new opportunities you hadn't thought of or determine features you thought would be big hits that have ended up not mattering to customers, or being failures.

Knowing what's important to your customers can help you better plan offers, promotions, and contests to further drive buzz and sales. Instead of expensive product launches, you can test new ideas carefully and receive feedback quickly, keeping your finger on the pulse of your customers. Avoid pricey ad campaigns championing things you think people will love about your product or service by listening to what people actually want before you spend one dollar. Consider social listening the ultimate surveying and focus-group tool—practically free, and running 24/7/365 for you.

How to Listen

There are lots of free ways to listen to what customers and prospects are saying online and many paid enterprise systems available as well, with costs ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars per month. If you're new to listening, try these free ways first:

• Google Alerts

• Technorati blog search

• Twitter search

• Facebook search

• YouTube search

• TweetBeep

If you go to any social network and type a phrase or keyword into its search function, you will see what people are saying using that keyword in real time. National and global brands might search the entire Web, while local and regional organizations will want to use geographical filtering to find posts only in their coverage area. Remember not just to search for your brand name but for your competitors', and more important, for terms and words that your customers would use. For instance, if you're a real estate broker, sure, you can search social networks for the name of your agency. But wouldn't it be more helpful to search for the phrase "want to buy a house" in conversations on social networks in your town so you can find real people in real time sharing their needs with others? If you're an attorney, you can search for your firm's name, but it might be more helpful to search for the phrase "need to hire a lawyer" to listen to potential future clients talk about what they are looking for in the way of legal services.

For more advanced listeners, or for brands with higher volumes of conversations to listen to, consider a paid enterprise software solution. There are dozens of listening platforms available, but a couple of good ones to start with are Vocus and Radian6. (See Table 1.1 for a number of others.)

Such products allow you to tap into large volumes of conversations across the social Web in a systematic, easy-to-follow way. You can generate real-time, daily, or weekly reports on mentions, competitive analysis, sentiment, and more. While solutions such as Radian6 are much more expensive than "free," they're a lot less expensive (and a lot more valuable) than traditional marketing research, such as surveying and focus groups.

I'm Listening, Now What?

It's important to keep an open mind about what data you'll find when you listen and, more important, what you can do with it. If your brand or product is being talked about in a negative way, it's urgent to fix the problems being discussed as efficiently as possible. If people are asking for something new, figure out a way to create that for them. For instance, maybe your customers love a product but wish it came in a different flavor, color, or design. Or maybe they'd be willing to pay more for your service if you offered a new tool they need. If customers are revealing their favorite features about your product that you didn't realize were popular, consider accentuating these features in future marketing and communications materials. And of course, once you've begun to formally listen to what customers and prospects are saying, you'll want to formulate a plan to respond appropriately whenever possible (as will be discussed in detail in following chapters).


At best, by not listening, you're not leveraging potential opportunities for growth, damage control, or both. At worst, you're causing your customers and prospects to turn to your competitors, those who are listening and will respond to customer needs. You're also allowing your brand reputation to be significantly hurt because by the time you get around to learning what people are saying, it's too late to respond efficiently and make necessary changes to keep your company growing. Even if you're in a highly regulated industry and you're unable to fully join the conversation, it simply doesn't make sense not to leverage the resources available to find out what your customers and prospects are saying and to use that information to create better products, services, and processes.

I talked with Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert, author, and longtime social media user, about the importance of listening, and he confessed that, at first, he didn't always take the concept to heart as he does today:

The first discussion list I joined, I didn't listen first. I went in with keyboard blazing, did not take the time to understand the group, and ended up slinking off with my tail between my legs and leaving entirely. Since then, I've been in many groups, and I usually read all the posts for about two weeks before posting, and start with an introduction. I've developed a reputation as a friendly, caring, helpful, knowledgeable, and very transparent individual whose advice carries some weight.

Shel told me he can now safely attribute 15 to 20 percent of his book sales directly to his time spent listening and responding across social networks and online communities. So many marketers have taken to using new marketing channels to talk before listening, essentially filling each new channel that comes along with noise. Think about e-mail and most other forms of so-called "interactive marketing." Is it really interactive, or is it mostly marketers talking? Social networks provide marketers with massive opportunity to leverage the listening half of communication.


Remember, it's not about listening for a while then talking to all of your new prospects and converting them into customers. Listening will always be 50 percent of the communication process, so you'll want to continue to refine your listening skills and processes throughout your work in social media. Always listen to the conversations in real time. In fact, sometimes the best daters, friends, businesspeople, and companies are the ones who do even more listening than talking, hearing what everyone has to say, and only speaking when they have something really worthwhile to express.

In dating lore, there's always the guy who thinks he knows how important listening is, so he starts the date by saying, "Tell me about yourself." After his date talks for a minute or so about herself, she says, "How about you?" and he proceeds to talk her ear off for the rest of the date, telling her all about himself. The guy may claim he listened to what she said, but the truth is, he was just going through the motions, not really carrying it through in a meaningful way.

That's not listening. In order to be a likeable organization that effectively listens to its customers and prospects, you've got to fully integrate listening into your job or agency's functions.

When You Can Only Listen: Neutrogena SkinID

Neutrogena skinID, the personalized acne solution from Neutrogena Corporation, is one of many products that fall into a highly regulated category for U.S. marketers. According to its website, "Neutrogena formed Neutrogena Dermatologics—a group of leading dermatologists, scientists, and research experts—to create an acne solution that truly takes into account everyone's unique skin needs in order to help one person at a time. The result is a personalized acne solution: skinID." While this popular product for young adults is perfectly suited for social media, in a highly regulated industry, it's challenging to engage with customers about products and specific issues. Since the conversation often involves a lot of medical information, neither the company nor its agencies can answer specific questions that, for legal reasons, need to be answered by licensed experts in the area—doctors.

For these reasons, the company has made social listening a priority. Neutrogena skinID has a dedicated team that follows and listens to huge volumes of conversations across the blogosphere and Web. With Likeable Media's help, Neutrogena gathers and analyzes thousands of comments from skinID's fans on Facebook. While we can only respond to some comments, all comments are brought to the attention of the brand team, who then use people's sentiment, comments, and questions to better build and adjust brand communications across all marketing and customer channels.

When we legally can answer people, even if only to acknowledge that we're listening, relationships with our customers strengthen. In Figure 1.1, when Mena writes that she wants skinID to come to Mexico, we quickly acknowledge to her (and since it's public, to anyone else reading) that we are listening, even if the answer isn't what she wants to hear. When Laurenzilla posts about her skinID experience, we respond to her personally with a thank you, and she quickly responds, "you're welcome." It's remarkably simple, yet many companies aren't doing it yet.

By listening and responding, greater sentiment comes from customers, whose loyalty grows. They, in turn, become better advocates for your products. It's as simple as this: customer talks; company listens and acknowledges; customer is happier, as is anyone else watching, since the conversation is public. Who would you rather buy a product from—a company that obviously, publicly listens to its customers or a company that seemingly ignores them by not utilizing social networks to directly interact with the public?

IBM's Listening for Leads: Millions of Dollars Worth of Leads, That Is

International Business Machines (IBM) is an American multinational computer, technology, and IT consulting firm. It is the world's fourth largest technology company and the second most valuable global brand. In an interview with, Ed Linde II, who works on the IBM website team, described the formal steps that a company as huge as IBM has taken to listen to customers and prospects on the social Web. Says Linde:

We also have a program called Listening for Leads, where we have people we call "seekers" who on a voluntary basis go to particular social media sites where they listen to conversations and determine whether there's a potential sales opportunity.... Seekers listen to and look at conversations. For example, if someone says, "I'm looking to replace my old server" or "Does anyone have any recommendations on what kind of storage device will work in this in type of situation?" or "I'm about to issue a RFP; does anyone have a sample RFP I could work from?" Those are all pretty good clues that someone's about to buy something or start the buying process.

We try to identify those leads, get them to a lead development rep who is a telephone sales rep who has been trained to have a conversation with the lead to qualify and validate the opportunity. They'll qualify and validate it and then pass it to the appropriate sales resource to follow up....


Excerpted from likeable social media by DAVE KERPEN Copyright © 2011 by Dave Kerpen. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

PART I- Introduction How Did We Get Here so Quickly?; Chapter 1: The Traditional Marketing Mix is Dead; Chapter 2: From Internet 1.0 to 3.0 in 15 Years; Chapter 3: What Are the Differences Between 1-Way Marketing & 2-Way Communication?; Chapter 4: Like is the New Link: How Facebook is Reorganizing the Web; Chapter 5: Beyond Facebook: How Important Are Other Social Networks?; Chapter 6: What Does it Mean to Be Likeable?; PART II- 18 Ways to Use Facebook & Social Media to Move the Needle; Chapter 1: Listen First; Chapter 2: Define Your Target Audience Better Than Ever Before; Chapter 3: Think Like a Consumer; Chapter 4: Convert Your Current Customers to Become Fans First; Chapter 5: Engage! (The Difference Between Talking and Engaging); Chapter 6: Respond Quickly to All of the Bad Comments; Chapter 7: Respond to the Good Comments Too (and even to the indifferent ones if possible); Chapter 8: Be Authentic (& even Vulnerable!); Chapter 9: Be Transparent; Chapter 10: Should You Ask a Lot of Questions?; Chapter 11: Provide Value; Chapter 12: Share Stories; Chapter 13: Inspire Your Customers to Share Stories; Chapter 14: Integrate Facebook into the Entire Customer Experience; Chapter 15: Use Social Ads Carefully & Efficiently; Chapter 16: Admit When You F—K Up – & then Leverage It; Chapter 17: Consistently Deliver Value, Excitement & Delight; Chapter 18: Sell; PART III- Applying the Rules: The Details on Each Network;chapter 1: Facebook: 500 million people can’t be wrong; Chapter 2: Twitter: Real-time consumer engagement; Chapter 3: YouTube: If a picture tells a thousand words, what can a video do?; Chapter 4: Foursquare: Reaching Your Customers Where They Are;Chapter 5: LinkedIn: From 1 Professional To Another…; Chapter 6: The Blogosphere: It’s a Mad, Mad (Blogger) World; Chapter 7: Flickr, MySpace, & the Thousands of Other Social Networks Out There; PART IV- Conclusion: Always be Likeable, and Your Customers Will Chase You

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Customer Reviews

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( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 3, 2011

    Not very likable

    The blurb on the back of Dave Kerpen's "Likeable Social Media," advises that in order to be successful with word-of-mouth marketing on the web, you need to listen, deliver value, excitement and surprise, and most important engage your customers to get them to spread the word.

    I'm not convinced it was worth spending $20 and the time it takes to read 223 pages to buy the book and find out how he expands on that advice. What I found most unsettling was his failure to take his own his advice in chapter 9 to "Be Honest and Transparent."

    The strength of Kerpen's book is his use of illustrative examples. For each topic, he offers relevant examples of companies, institutions and individuals who either successfully or unsuccessfully used social media to further their goals. I found the majority of the examples relevant, informative and 'the lessons learned' applicable.

    The book is set-up in an easy-to-read format, which allows the reader to jump to different subject areas, but still experience a consistent format of example, advice, example and action items.

    According to Kerpen, a friend's recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement - with which I would agree. But I'm very skeptical of the premise of engineering likeability, and still maintaining trust and transparency. Kerpen didn't convince me, either in his book or by his example.

    I choose this book, after cursorily scanning recommended titles, because of its high review ratings - except I never read the reviews. After I read the book and went back to the online reviews, I notice there was a disturbing pattern.

    On the Barnes and Noble site, "Likeable Social Media" got an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Six of the nine "most helpful" reviews were all posted on the same date - June 20, 2011 - and most reference their professional relationship to the author (many of the reviewers appear to be subordinates.) While the reviewers "disclosed" their association, their 5-star ratings and glowing reports felt manipulative, designed only to skewed the overall rating score. I have to agree with the posting by "anonymous" on October 30, 2011: " Reviews written by co-workers is fraud. If this is the social media strategy of the author then it's not worth a dime!"

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

    Absolutely Worth It

    In the spirit of being transparent, I must disclose that the author is my CEO. However, I will review the book honestly. This book is straight forward and gets the job done. The author clearly demonstrates how to utilize social media in a likeable and valuable way. Gone are the days of merely flaunting one's social life all over the web. In order to stand out from the other billions of users, one must create a presence online and "Likeable Social Media" tells you how.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

    Awesome MUST read for businesses thinking about jumping into social media

    This book is an incredible resource for my company, and really helped me, as a CEO, create action items for exactly what to do next to get started in social media. I also don't love business books, and found this to be an easy to read guide for how to succeed in social.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2011


    Reviews written by co-workers is fraud. If this is the social media strategy of the author then its not worth a dime!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Something for Everyone

    Before I review, I must state that I worked very closely with Dave and I'm currently on the Likeable Media team HOWEVER...I can state that this book is real, and down to earth. How? My mom created a Facebook page on her own after reading it...I was amazed. With this being said, Likeable Social Media is good for the beginner who only wants to figure out how to set up a page, the social media enthusiast who just wants to here Dave's POV, and most importantly the brand manager/small business owner/entrepreneur who needs to figure out just HOW to do social and WHY it's important. Like I said, it's a little something for everyone no matter who you are.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    A Must Read for Businesses or Anyone Interested in Social Media

    I am presently working at Likeable Media as a Buzz Builder. Reading this book by the CEO (Dave Kerpen) not only prepared me for my endeavors with the company but it gave me knowledge I would not have been able to obtain from any other source. Not only did I learn a lot the book was an enjoyable read, I don't normally enjoy this genre of book either. I personally appreciated the case studies Dave included in the book, they show how real the company and Dave is. With so many people/brands/companies with an online presence Likeable Social Media can teach yours how to stand out. That being said, this book is great for a many audiences. The business owner/associate who is curious about the world of social media and how they can benefit from utilizing the various platforms available, a social media junkie of any age, and for those who have no idea what this whole facebook/twitter thing is about and is curious to see. To sum it all up, I recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    FINALLY- More than just vague cliches

    Even though I work with the author and have heard these stories many times, I still managed to learn something. So many marketing and social media books try to give you advice in the form of vague statements like "have great content" or "be responsive" but the advice normally ends there. This book goes beyond the vague suggestions and cliche terms. Dave outlines exactly what counts as "great content" and exactly what steps are required for "being responsive." Each chapter tackles a necessary component to being successful in social media marketing and each chapter ends with action items that can put his words into a reality for your business. If you want to learn where to begin with using social media for your business, I would recommend this book. If you already think you know everything about social media marketing, I would still recommend this book because so many of the obvious necessities are the things we forget to do everyday. Overall, education & fun to read! Very #likeable!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Social Media can be LIKEABLE!

    The world we have been living in shows that no one wants to be bothered with advertisements. People complain when YouTube makes them watch a 30 second clip before their video. No one wants to be interrupted when they are trying to relax. Social Media has become to new way people have learned to unwind. Dave Kerpen writes about finding a way to reach out to people without "interrupting" their time on the internet. The idea is to engage and listen to people out there. Dave does a great job of showing how this can be done with examples in his book. He also teaches everyone to see the social media world as a giant cocktail party and that can help brands and companies assess before they reach out. I don't want to give away the whole book because it's definitely one worth reading but I can say- all that Dave says in this book is an effective way to market your brand. The amazing thing about this book is, if you really learn from it and use what Dave is saying, not only will your marketing improve but so will your advertising and Public image. All very beneficial in operating a successful company/brand. I am a Buzz Builder at Likeable Media and everything that Dave maps out in this book is what we as buzz builders practice everyday. We learn it from our team from day 1. People do not like being told something, they want the call to action and they want to feel like they can contribute and that they matter. In the end, Dave writes an amazing book and he himself has a bunch of experience and knows what he is talking about. I highly recommend the book, not just because I work for the company but because I truly believe there is something to be learned to create a world filled of Likeable Social Media.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2011



    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012


    Very nice book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    Great Read and Still Relevant!

    I actually run a mobile development and design agency and, while half of the book is beating me senseless to abandon my old marketing ways (which I started out having abandoned), the other half is meaty and full of great tips and advice on how to kick ass with your Facebook campaigns (and briefly other networks).

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    If you're new to social media--buy this book!

    For a generation of business owners who have no idea how social media even works, let alone how to use it for their businesses, this book is great! It gives you a step by step guide to everything anyone needs to know when just starting in social media. Dave Kerpen is the CEO of the company that I'm currently interning at--Likebale Media, one of the leading companies in the social media industry and he definitely knows what he is talking about. He gives away expert advice on how to use Facebook in order to promote your business by creating a strategy on getting the most "likes." This book is gold to anyone who is looking to break into the social media world and doesn't quite get it or know what they're doing just yet. Definitely give it a read!

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    Posted April 16, 2013

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    Posted October 5, 2011

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    Posted November 7, 2011

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    Posted March 27, 2013

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    Posted October 24, 2013

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