The cavalry is coming to the aid of small businesses trying to puzzle out the Wild West of social media. Four new monthly print magazines have just launched to help business owners and entrepreneurs learn the ropes of the social media sites of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. The paper publications (cover price $7.95) will also be available for free in seven digital formats, including iPad, Android, Blackberry and Kindle.
The four magazines—Tweeting & Business, fb & Business, LI & Business and The Big G & Business—aren't the only new resource for business owners trying to wrap their heads around these new marketing tools. Social media strategist Dave Peck has surveyed the social media landscape in his new book, "Think Before You Engage" (Wiley, 2011), to explore 100 questions any business should ask before undertaking a social media marketing campaign.
"Businesses of every shape and size are desperately trying to figure out social media," said Jay Abraham, co-founder of GSG World Media, publisher of the four magazines. "What small businesses, which make up 95 percent of U.S. commerce, don't need is more ways to trick the search engines . They need authentic, ethical and meaningful methods to generate the enormous impact social media is capable of delivering to their enterprises."
Authenticity is table stakes, according to Peck. Social media have a sixth sense about sniffing out insincerity and deception.
"Be honest about your agenda," Peck told BusinessNewsDaily. "Be ruthless about admitting what you're trying to do."
Businesses need to understand which of the social media services are appropriate for their businesses, he said. It's not a one-size-fits-all ecosystem.
"Facebook is more of a closed network," Peck said. "Twitter is more open. If you're selling cupcakes, LinkedIn is not the place to be."
It's also a rapidly evolving work in progress and its code of conduct and playbook are moving targets.
"Social is the Wild, Wild West," he said. "I could write a white paper today and it would be outdated tomorrow."
GSG World Media hopes to help businesses conquer that wild, uncharted territory.
"We are single-mindedly focused on delivering to business owners detailed, how-to content from today's leading experts in social media," said Eric
Yaverbaum, associate publisher and co-founder of GSG World Media. Yaverbaum is also the author of "Public Relations for Dummies."
Office Depot is the exclusive print distributor for the print versions of the magazines and leads a list of advertisers that includes SWIX, Steven M.R. Covey, EFactor, Steiner Sports and Pro2Pro Network. All digital subscriptions are free, courtesy of Office Depot, EFactor and The Pro2Pro Network.
"This has been one of the most difficult economic periods for small businesses, our core customers," said Monica Luechtfeld, head of global e-commerce for Office Depot. "These magazines will serve as manuals for those who understand the importance of social media, but need practical guidance in applying social media strategies to their businesses."
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Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.