social media book reviewsWhen little-known, first-term Illinois senator Barack Obama faced Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, he knew he couldn’t compete with her financially. He couldn’t afford telemarketing and direct mail campaigns or TV and radio advertising.

So instead of playing by the old rules, he made new rules. He started blogging and he created profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

He also hired the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes, to be his Internet strategist. And he won the Democratic presidential nomination even though he spent a lot less money than his opponent.

At the time of the election, Obama had five million fans on Facebook—over four million more than Clinton. On MySpace, the numbers were approximately 800,000 and 200,000, respectively. On Twitter, he had over 100,000 followers and his opponent had about 5,000.

And he did all of that by following the principles of inbound marketing.

If you still market your business the old-fashioned way, you’re using outbound marketing techniques. Outbound marketing is throwing your message into the public arena and hoping the “right people” see it. Inbound marketing is creating a message that only the right people would be interested in, and then helping them stumble upon it.

If you have trouble seeing the difference, consider this:

Outbound marketing—You spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise the 2012 Lexus LFA during the Super Bowl. Only a tiny fraction of that audience would qualify financially.

Inbound marketing—You help people who have the income and the desire for the 2012 Lexus LFA to find your website, your blog and your YouTube channel.

Consumers Revolt Against In-Your-Face Marketing

I think I’m not the only one who’s fed up with traditional marketing techniques.

Many people have turned their collective backs on traditional advertising and ask their friends and family members for advice instead. They know any ad they see is just a sales pitch. And they probably don’t need whatever is being advertised.

But when they do need a product or service, they know their friends and families can give them unbiased testimonials about the products and services they like. And tapping into those conversations is one of the new rules of marketing.

inbound marketingSo if spam-blockers, TiVo and mute buttons have convinced you to reconsider expensive outbound marketing techniques, have I got a book for you! It’s Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Getting found doesn’t mean spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a prime-time commercial that most viewers will mute. Or putting an online banner ad for an arthritis drug in front of a 21-year-old woman.

Getting found means writing extensively about your solution to someone else’s problem. And then helping people with that problem find your online documents. “In order to move from outbound to inbound marketing,” write Halligan and Shah, “you need to stop interrupting people in your target market and ‘get found’ by them instead.”

So these two MIT MBA grads wrote a brief manual to teach you the fundamentals of inbound marketing. “We have seen inbound marketing work first hand for hundreds of companies in a myriad of different industries. We’re confident it will work for you if you persevere and continually learn.”

Market the Way People Search for Information

“To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products,” write Halligan and Shah. The era of interruption-based marketing is coming to an end because people have become much more efficient at blocking out these traditional methods of marketing and have become equally as efficient at finding trusted information online.”

Yes, you may have to forget everything you know about marketing. But Halligan and Shah will take you by the hand and teach you a brand-new set of marketing techniques. Their book has a companion website that includes the following resources:

  • A forum where you can ask and answer questions about inbound marketing
  • A directory of marketing service firms that can help you implement inbound marketing
  • A collection of marketing news to keep you current
  • A database of inbound marketing jobs for job-hunters and employers

Many of you may already know how to optimize your website, use an RSS reader and set up a YouTube channel. This book will teach you all of that and much more. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Hire employees who understand inbound marketing principles
  • Hire service providers using inbound marketing principles
  • Use bivariate and multivariate testing to see which landing page draws more leads
  • Grade leads so you spend more time on the ones who will become customers
  • Create a lead-nurturing program so you don’t lose promising leads
  • Analyze your competition using inbound marketing principles

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! Did you think inbound marketing would be easy? Did you think all you had to do was set up a Google Alert to monitor mentions of your company name?

This book contains many tips for startups too. If you’re starting a business, you have one major advantage over established businesses when it comes to inbound marketing—you won’t have to “unlearn” anything!

“You no longer need to spend tons of money interrupting your potential customers. Instead you need to create remarkable content, optimize that content, publish the content, market the content, and measure what is working and what is not working,” write Halligan and Shah. “A savvy inbound marketer is half traditional marketer and half content creation factory.”

In fact, you can think of inbound marketing as the “Five C’s”: you’re Converting Creativity, Content, and Conversation into valuable Customers.

If you’re still clinging to traditional outbound marketing techniques, consider this final quote from Halligan and Shah: “On average, inbound marketing leads are 61 percent less expensive than outbound marketing leads.”

I thought that might get your attention.

So take a tip from Barack Obama. Pick up a copy of Inbound Marketing, cut your marketing bill in half and start a conversation with your customers. They’re waiting to hear from you.

Social Media Examiner gives this book a 4-star rating.

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  • A great post, thank you. During these days when cost means everything, it makes so much sense to focus on those interested in your products and services.

  • Addoway, Inc

    Real good book for sure.

  • Book looks great, I’ll check it out. Great review and a lot of good info as well.

  • Jen

    Yes, consumers know when they’re being sold to, but that also means through social media methods as well. Still too many people using twitter and facebook to push their product or pitch their message instead of as an engagement tool. Used right, social media can be a gold mine; used wrong and it gives social media marketers a bad name, ruining the experience for users.

  • The reality is that traditional marketing will NEVER go away completely. The goal is how to you balance it and adjust for particular market (just look at the ad spend). These are all different channels, not a panacea. It is ironic though that Hubspot is also now engaging in traditional marketing all over. I think it goes to validate the point that companies need to have a strong understanding of ALL the channels and implementing strategies for those channels that will have the most impact.

  • Ryan, i believe that you are right. However for a lot a small business that cannot afford the ad spend, they need to know that there are other options apart from “traditional marketing”, that really works. Eventually anyway it will all just be called “traditional marketing”.

  • @Gairy – I hear you. The labeling of “traditional” marketing is really just a segmentation strategy so they could create the term Inbound Marketing. If you own a category that is a great niche, you have much more success. To your point about budgets, true inbound (or online really) has so much great options — but I have seen lots of companies look up after better the farm on inbound and not done much. That is why balance is so important.

  • Jenniw333

    I can’t believe that you haven’t embedded a link to the book on Amazon and made a little extra cash! lol

  • Your Obama / Clinton logic seems skewed. Clinton was no longer in the running by the time of the general election — of course she should have fewer fans than the active candidate! If a presidential candidate doesn’t continue to gain supporters after the primaries, (s)he would have some trouble winning the general election.

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  • Thanks for the recommendation, will be picking this one up!

  • Morqos77

    genial book…really – drago kajtuzovic

  • Obama couldn’t compete financially with Hilary in 2008…er…WRONG.

    He had already eclipsed her in 2007 in revenues raised.

  • Robert

    After reading your blog post I’m interested of reading the book. But if this is a review, is there really nothing that’s missing or could be better with the book. It feels like a big promotion of the book.

  • David

    The comments in the prelim are very good and I for one will be getting this book. As a video marketing company we are finding that our work gets best results through inbound marketing and social media so I am interested to see strategies that I can adapt to our service (an obvious plug, obviously)

  • One is bombarded on all channels on stuff about Social Media and this book review was more informative than some. Will check out the book but a sense of balance was missing in the review; as someone said, no negative points were covered.

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  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Many social media books have mentioned this. If you just push your promotional material at people, they will stop following you/paying attention to you. The key is to actively look for people who are already talking about your company or products, and join the conversation. Pay close attention to their questions and answer them. Give them something of value and they will begin to trust you.

    Ruth M. Shipley

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    Yes, I suppose the Fortune 500 who have tons of money to throw away will continue to use outbound marketing techniques. Whether they work or not.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    I DID link to the book on Amazon. But I used to shorten the URL.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    I was talking about the election for the Democratic presidential candidate. If I didn’t make that clear, I apologize.

  • Ruth M. Shipley

    Thanks for clarifying that.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    That’s why I gave the book 4 stars and not 5 stars.

    I’m not an expert on social media marketing. So I try not to criticize these books. I just try to find the good in the books and emphasize that.

    Having said that, however, if a book was really bad and didn’t contribute anything new, I might mention that. And I would lower my rating.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    Most authors believe they have important things to say. And publishers would not publish a book if it didn’t contribute something new to the topic in question. Of course many publishers might “jump on the bandwagon.” They’re in business too! You can already see this happening in social media publishing. There are so many “me too” books popping up.

    The authors of this book believe that inbound marketing techniques are more cost-effective than traditional marketing techniques. I believe they may be right. And I didn’t find anything “negative” or anything to criticize.

  • (Disclosure: I am have a Hubspot Partner).

    If you are a small business and you have substantial or predictable budget than inbound marketing (which is really SEO + social + blogging when you break it down) is your only option. I do find it oddly coincidental given the response that nearly 100% of the case studies featured here and on many other sites are from those same Fortune 500 companies–the same ones who spend tremendously on non-inbound marketing but have realized that digital is a more measurable and growing channel. Given this logic, soon television will have no advertising — the screen will just go black and words will come across the screen that say:

    “In the next 30 seconds, please Google what you would like, or check your Twitter stream for new products” It will be easy because magazines, radio, email and direct mail (which is still profitable for many industries) will just have black pages as well.

    So to your point, with a tiny or no budget, inbound marketing is a great way for these companies to even the playing field. But to say that traditional marketing channels which still represent 90% of working media will disappear is either a significant stretch or a hubspot-sponsored article.

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  • Good article Ruth. In our industry with salons, many of the traditional means of marketing is still being used and people are still wasting their money when they could be making use of the new methods of marketing that you talk about. Using inbound marketing is the key and those who don’t will be left behind.

  • Ruth M. Shipley


    I can’t say they will be left behind, but they will be spending lots of money without being able to control the outcome. People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Traditional marketing doesn’t always lead to trust. You just throw your marketing message out there, cross your fingers, and hope the people who need your product/service see it. It seems to me there are more cost-effective techniques where you can actually control the outcome.

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