Review: Social Media Judo

Ash Nallawalla

1 September 2011


Social Media JudoJudo is a gentle art of self defence where you use an opponent’s strength against them, instead of pitting your strength in their direction. It was my favourite sport at college. Nick White, Geoff Nelson, Chris Aarons with Dan Zehr have self-published Social Media Judo, a 167-page guide to social media for business. The book would be a credible sales tool for the company Nick, Geoff and Chris founded – Ivy Worldwide.

The judo analogy is so apt for social media, a field I work in at a leading bank. When any bank’s computers or ATMs break down, it is sometimes scary to see the speed with which bad news travels and how savvy customers use social networks to get a response quickly. My experience enabled me to appreciate this book very well and I commend the authors for speaking the truth, which some companies may find hard to swallow.

I was exposed to some of the Microsoft Windows Vista campaigns mentioned in the Introduction, so I understood the anecdotes better.

The book refers to the problem caused by the way the Acer Ferrari laptops were sent to “influencers” without any prior communication with them. Being the Reviews Editor from the Melbourne PC User Group, but not the President, I didn’t get one of the 128 laptops loaded with Vista. This was disappointing because I didn’t have a spare machine for beta testing and could not write a decent review for the world’s largest PC user group or mention it in reviews of other software. These reviews were also shared with the other user groups who belong to the Association of PC User Groups, so a potential readership over 200,000 was missed.

Our other rep did get one of these laptops, but it was shown to smaller groups of 100-200 people who attended monthly meetings and SIGs for several months, so it wasn’t a total loss for Microsoft. (Until I read this book, I didn’t know of AMD’s partnership in this campaign – Acer was the laptop provider as far as I was concerned.)

Other recipients of the laptops were less forgiving. See One questioned the ethics of this approach. Others called it pay-to-blog, while some just sold their gift on eBay. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity, so a lot of people who hadn’t heard about Windows Vista or Ferrari laptops became better informed. An indirect outcome was the requirement by the US FTC for transparency in product reviews.

The book review

The book rightly points out that social media marketing is sufficiently mature and that a company who merely displays a Facebook or Twitter icon gets no points if that’s all they do. This engagement with customers needs to be meaningful and measurable.

The authors point out that many large companies waste money on campaigns that fail to harness the existing influencer community. Twenty years ago, computer user groups were the influencers, but once manufacturers learnt how to use the Internet, they began to ignore the user groups and today it is safe to say that not a single well-known vendor includes them in official campaigns.

Ivy Worldwide works with influential bloggers mainly on campaigns for Hewlett-Packard. These campaigns are mentioned throughout the book, as are failures by other companies (not clients) such as Visa, or Dell’s initial efforts. The reader is left in no doubt that drafting the help of active bloggers early in a product’s life cycle is important for garnering word-of-mouth publicity. Ivy Worldwide also knows that they need to provide value to the blog readers, not just to the blog owner.


Ch 1: Social-Media Marketing

Ch 2: The Judo Philosophy

Ch 3: Ukemi: Learning To Fall

Ch 4: Uchikomi: Mastering The Basics

Ch 5: Kuzushi: Balance

Ch 6: Randori: Free Practice

Ch 7: Shiai: Contest

Ch 8: Time To Get Out There And Do It

The book is peppered with valuable insights such as:

  • Marketing through social media remains an imprecise art. Campaigns fail for reasons a marketer has no way of predicting. Other campaigns might succeed despite a company’s most inept fumbling when implementing it. One thing will guarantee failure, however: treating social media as a gimmick and just bolting it onto a marketing campaign without forethought. The authors share their early failures and explain where they went wrong.
  • The “Dell Hell” reputation management saga of 2005 that got the company on a commendable social media journey that endures to this day.
  • Don’t judge an influencer’s blog by its low traffic numbers.
  • Don’t blame social media for your own ineptness.
  • A detailed how-to with lots of anecdotes on how to engage influencers to promote your products.

I recommend this book to all social media practitioners, for it is not often that industry insiders share their insights so thoroughly. Buy it on Amazon.

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. SEO consultant.

Related Posts

Book review: Urnabhih: A mauryan tale of espionage, adventure and seduction

Feel free to share...FacebookTwitterRedditStumbleUponLinkedinemailUrnabhih means a spider’s web in Hindi, a language you may need to know to get the best value from this historical fiction.I bought the Kindle edition, although a paperback is also available from Amazon India. The plot The spider’s web refers to a web of deceipt and intrigue that is cast […]

Read More

Older Posts