B.J. Mendelson is a public speaker and author of the book, Social Media Is BS. Mendelson first received attention in the early 2000s for being able to turn his financial struggles as a Millennial in The Great Recession into media coverage for himself. After an unsuccessful national breast cancer tour, B.J. went on to write a book called Social Media Is BS based on the experience and his research into the social media marketing industry. He later earned additional media attention for frequently taking on prominent social media companies and social media experts. Mendelson is currently self-publishing a novel that he has been working on since 2008 called Dracula And Kittens. He also tours college campuses across North America to speak on issues concerning the myths of social media marketing.
The Breast Cancer Tour & Social Media Is BS
After unsuccessfully applying for a job at Twitter in November of 2008, in February of 2009, Mendelson’s @BJMendelson account was featured on Twitter’s Suggested User List.The account was featured to promote a cross-country breast cancer awareness tour organized by Mendelson and the 1 in 8 Foundation to promote the early detection and prevention of breast cancer. Mendelson cited his grandmothers and their respective battles of cancer as the inspiration behind the tour. The breast cancer tour built off a previous project of Mendelson’s where he was collecting old electronics and recycling them for profit. Something that was also done throughout the tour. Mendelson’s placement on the Twitter Suggested User List was controversial as he was the only non-brand, non-celebrity, non-media outlet to be placed on the list. In March 2009, B.J.offered to sell his spot on the Suggested User List to entrepreneur Jason Calacanis if Calacanis donated the $250,000 he offered Twitter for a spot on the Suggested User List to the 1 in 8 Foundation instead. Twitter’s Ev Williams and Biz Stone would later veto the exchange between Mendelson and Calacanis. In interviews with the media, Mendelson frequently attributes the failure of the breast cancer tour to its dependence on social media marketing tactics, arguing that he did the same tour a year later, for Wounded Warriors Family Support*, to great success. The difference between the two tours, according to Mendelson, was the lack of dependence on social media marketing for the second tour and its use of publicity stunts.
The failure of the breast cancer tour serves as the basis for Mendelson’s first book, Social Media Is BS. The book was published on September 4th, 2012 by St. Martin’s Press, with Mendelson appearing on Squawk Box on CNBC that morning to promote the book. Mendelson would then appear on CNN to talk about social media and its impact on the 2012 Presidential Election. He would later appear on MSNBC as a “social media critic” to talk about Yelp’s alleged extortion tactics. The book was received well by readers but met mixed reviews with critics with Kirkus Reviews, Uproxx, The Toronto Star, The New York Journal of Books, and others praising the book while The New Republic panned it. Since publication, Mendelson continues to maintain an aggressive stance against social media experts, calling them out for what he states are deceptive business practices. Examples of this include Dave Kerpen and his admitted cheating of The New York Times Best Seller’s List for his first book, Likeable Social Media, and Gary Vaynerchuk’s promotion of social media companies he owns shares in while simultaneously selling services related to those companies.
Although a stand-up comedian by trade, B.J. Mendelson has appeared in various professional venues to talk about the myths of social media marketing, including an appearance at the United Nations to debate the ambassador to Pakistan, Hussain Haroon, about the larger effects of social media on society. He has also appeared at South By Southwest Interactive, the Word of Mouth Marketing Summit, and Social Media Explore to debate social media marketers.Mendelson prefers touring college campuses to conferences and has appeared at Columbia University, New York University, Columbia College, and Alfred State College, among many others.
In July of 2013 Mendelson announced the follow-up book to Social Media Is Bullshit will be called The New Frontier, named for the famous speech given by President John F. Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.
Self-Publishing Experiments And Dracula And Kittens
Mendelson was one of the first people in America to attempt to produce a novel one tweet at a time. Although he initially expressed doubt about the concept, he continued to publish a novel in this format called The War On Literacy between 2008 and 2010. The majority of The War On Literacy would later be incorporated into a self-published humor novel called Dracula And Kittens.
Dracula And Kittens moved from being tweeted to regularly blogged in October of 2009. The book is described by Mendelson as a mashup between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and his own warped sense of humor, making the story similar to previous public domain mashups including Quirk Books’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Mendelson cited his frustration over production problems with Social Media Is BS for his reason to self-publish Dracula And Kittens instead of going through another traditional publisher.
B.J. Mendelson was born in Oyster Bay, New York, on April 25th, 1983, and attended Alfred State College and the State University of New York at Potsdam. He is a 2001 graduate of Monore-Woodbury Senior High School. On the September 27th, 2012 edition of CNN’s Early Start with Soledad O’Brien, Mendelson cited advice given to him by his history teacher at Monroe-Woodbury, Mr. Dames, for his success.
Mendelson is known as a practitioner of a modified form of radical honesty and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Mendelson claims to have no political affiliation but told Newsweek that he changed his vote in the 2008 Presidential election because, “I wanted to be able to tell our future children that we voted for Obama.”
In February of 2006 at SUNY Potsdam, Mendelson became the youngest individual, and first student, to create and endow a scholarship named for his grandfather, Oscar Cohen. Mendelson was previously married to Amanda Morin, with whom he resided in Potsdam, New York, Glens Falls, New York, South Glens Falls, New York, and Albany, New York. B.J. met Amanda at SUNY Potsdam in August of 2005 when B.J. was Amanda’s resident assistant in the Lehman South dorm. Both worked as substitute teachers while B.J. also worked as a freelance marketing consultant who helped successfully promote the game, Humans Vs. Zombies, the syndicated television show, The Edge with Jake Sasseville, and a not-for-profit organization known as Wounded Warriors Family Support. B.J. Mendelson was briefly a substitute teacher at William Hackett Middle School in Albany, New York while attending classes at the University at Albany to obtain a Master’s in American History. He also contributed to The Albany Student Press. In that time Mendelson also became known for publicity stunts which include getting his cat involved with coverage of the 2007 YouTube / CNN Presidential debates and selling empty bags of air.
Amanda would accompany B.J. on the ill-fated breast cancer tour. The failure of the first tour and the couple’s inability to find consistent work during The Great Recession put considerable strain on the marriage. The couple traded years financially supporting each other, with Amanda at one point making what little money they had. B.J. also went without health insurance, despite having heart problems. These conditions lead to the couple delaying having children. At one point, B.J. worked as Santa Claus at the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, New York, to make ends meet. Mendelson asked for a divorce in May 2012 stating that Amanda wanted to stay in Glens Falls, and that knew he couldn’t support her financially if he had stayed there.
In the Fall of 2012, Mendelson briefly lived on the campus of SUNY Potsdam to research an idea he had for a film called Old Man On Campus, which he is developing while working on Dracula And Kittens.
*Note: Wounded Warriors Family Support is not affiliated with Wounded Warrior Project and is a separate 501(c)(3) founded in Omaha, Nebraska.