Amber MacArthur (better known these days as Amber Mac) knows her stuff. She’s been working across the social media realm for years and her knowledge and presentation style – via video and audio, and now with this book, the written word – is first class.

She oozes enthusiasm for new media and all things digital and this comes across in her writing.

Maybe it's because I'm an avid listener of Net@Nite, Mac’s popular weekly podcast with Leo Laporte, but I couldn’t help but ‘hear’ her voice as I read the book. I guess this gives a pretty fair indication of her writing style (very informal and conversational).

If you’re new to social media, you’ll find Power Friending worthwhile.

It covers in general overview terms the history of the social web, the rules of the game, the popular social media tools plus a relatively detailed look at execution (right down to the need for using a tripod if you’re shooting video for the web!); it also looks at the obligatory social media successes and failures, and finishes with an eye to the future.

A nice neat package for those with limited knowledge of social media.

However, if you're across the social space and after something a bit more meaty, I think you’ll find Power Friending a bit light-on, if not a tad out-of-date (a few examples are from 2007, which in social media terms is eons ago). This not a criticism per se, it’s just where Mac has skewed the book.

To be fair, as the flap of Power Friending proudly states: “This isn’t a book of abstract theories or complicated strategies”. Mac gets into the nitty gritty tactical stuff, which is what some readers will want.

Peppered with examples

Mac peppers the book with plenty of case studies and examples which is good for ‘newbies’ but once again, if you’ve read a bit on the subject many will have a familiar ring about them. For instance – the ‘hits’ (Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation, ‘My Starbucks Idea’, Zappos, Dell, Obama etc) have been well documented by many other authors and bloggers, as have the ‘misses’ (Dominos and that rogue YouTube video, Dave Carroll and the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ saga; Motrin Moms, Sony’s fake PSP blog etc).

However, Mac does also give airtime to some lesser lights e.g. Zillow, Comparethemarket.com, Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go as well as Sydney-based web development company Red Ant, plus her yarn about best-selling author, Margaret Atwood, 70, is a beauty, as is the reference to Jennifer Cisney, who runs Kodak’s official blog (wonderfully titled ‘A Thousand Words’).

SUMMING UP: Who should read this book?

If you have a solid grasp of the social web, Power Friending is probably not for you (unless you want a quick refresher of the basics).

However, if you’re after a broad overview of (or quick introduction to) the social web, then you could do worse than this book.

Amber Mac is speaking at the forthcoming Schmart Marketing Conference in Melbourne (April 4) and Sydney (April 6).