Want to be Internet Famous? Just Believe!

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In Gail Z. Martin’s30 Days to Social Media Success,” the author focuses on teaching small business owners about the importance of incorporating social media into their work in order to enhance their business. Her book is organized into two sections. The first part of the book focuses on teaching small business owners about making sure their “marketing is reflecting [their] true business goals, while the second part of the book introduces “the most popular social media sites and [shares] tips on how to use these sites to promote [one’s] business” (16).

The book makes a good effort to decode popular social media websites for users that are unfamiliar with them. Martin users a number of oversimplified examples to address concepts we discussed throughout the CSMT course. She explains that while social media websites are free to use, they cost virtual money in the amount of time a user can end up spending on any given site, which can result in distracting you “from getting your work done” (56). This concept reminded me of Terranova’s article, “Free Labor: Producing Labor for the Digital Economy,” in which the author points out that user generated content is often more valuable than the website it is posted to. While inadvertently, Martin addresses this claim when she explains to her readers the significance of the “time required to keep up an active presence on an additional site” (56).

Martin also points out Marwick and boyd’s concept of imagined audiences mentioned in their article, “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.” In their study of Twitter, the researchers note that an online audience consisting of various users such as friends, family and co-workers may collide into one uniform audience that may misunderstand the intended message of the business if the right audience isn’t carefully curated. In order to avoid context collapse, users must make an effort to approach the right demographic with the appropriate tactics to keep them actively interested in the website. While Martin does not explain the significance of context collapse and how to avoid it, she explains that each social media site “has a distinct personality and culture… that draws somewhat different audiences” (57). The author also mentions media multiplexity (unintentionally) when she explains to her readers that all social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) “play unique roles in [a] marketing strategy” (57).

While Martin does a good job of bringing forth important ideas about social media by debunking certain “myths” such as “the Internet is just for kids” or “social media is a fad,” (59) these myths were probably more widespread at the time this book was published (2010) than they are today. Furthermore, Martin attempts to explain the significance of social capital and taste performances, by noting the importance of appearing online the way you would want to appear on television or any other media outlet (60). However, the organization of the book is such that the first eight chapters focus on self-help more than Internet and teaches its readers that, “even if you put the ideas [Martin] shares with you into action, if you do so without believing that they will actually work, that doubt will undermine everything you do” (14). While this may be a motivating concept, it has nothing to do with being successful online. “Believing” cannot be measured and will not garner results, either positive or negative.

Furthermore, Martin should have mentioned the significance of understanding one’s demographic, as explained by Mangold and Faulds in their article, “Social Media: The new hybrid elements of the promotion mix.” The researchers argue that social media allows consumers to have the power to control when they want to receive content and what type of content they want to receive. This is an important concept for business owners to understand when using social media as a marketing tool because while they spend a lot of time advertising online, if the content isn’t favorable to its target demographic, the business will go nowhere with their online efforts.

Finally, in an effort to teach users about the significance of bringing their business online, Martin should have introduced Donath’s concept of weak ties from her article, “Sociable Media.” The significance of building weak ties online for networking purposes will benefit any small business owner in offering professional support from social circles different from the user’s own. This concept should have been mentioned throughout the book because it plays an important role in building one’s social media presence.

Martin’s book is a useful read for users that are entirely unfamiliar with social media and are just getting started with the online world. The book also serves as a good backbone for understanding how social media can enhance a business’s presence with its contribution online. However, for a more advanced Internet user, this book will not be insightful because it does not dig deep into teaching its readers about more complicated topics such as demographics, networking and how to teach its audience to provide a comfortable consumer experience so that customers are interested in their social media website rather than avoiding their website entirely.

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