As a social media obsessed person, I was excited to dive into author Gail Z. Martin’s “30 Days to Social Media Success,” until realizing that I would gain limited techniques from her book. Martin’s intent was to create a social media bible for “small business owners and solo professionals” to help them become experts and lead their businesses to success. Martin’s background in writing ultimately led her to start her own company, “DreamSpinner Communications,” providing marketing consultation for small business owners. In her book, Martin includes an equal representation of many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Squidoo, Digg, YouTube, Flickr and Blogging, suggesting that her readers should utilize all these mediums, while Facebook and Twitter are obviously more relevant than Digg and Squidoo. At the rapid rate in which social media transforms, her book published in 2010 is already out of date, however she claims that her “book is designed to help you create a strategic social media platform for you business, focused on reaching your best target audience in pursuit of your top business goal” (Martin 12). Martin’s extremely primitive guide would really only benefit social media “newbies” and she could have included more detail regarding ways to utilize each platform. She is unrealistic regarding the amount of time she suggests to delegate toward maintaining social media profiles. Her recommendations include setting aside at least thirty minutes every day for thirty days to exclusively work on “developing your social media marketing success” (Martin 19). This small amount of time may be enough to first create a social media presence but it is definitely not enough time to maintain high activity and visibility on multiple social platforms.
Martin’s book is written with the assumption that all of her readers have the time, resources, ability and energy to interact with social media successfully, and is unfortunately not the reality. However, there are aspects of Martin’s book that us digital natives can benefit from, including her “RESULTS Approach” in which one must “Recommit to set aside at least 30 minutes each day…for 30 days,” “Expect success by throwing yourself whole-heartedly into this 30-day commitment,” “Seek partners. Social media is ‘social,’” “Understand your audience in more profitable detail than ever before,” “Look for win-win scenarios by posting valuable content on the right social media sites to attract more of your best prospects,” “Take strategic action by putting what you learn in this book to work for you” and “Stay visibly by keeping your social sites fresh and relevant” (Martin 19).
One must question Martin’s motivation behind writing her book. She does not seem like the most qualified person to compose a social media success guide and her writing is too forced and “boxed” to discuss such a creative field. Her book is not innovative or cutting edge, but rather basic and boring.
In Nancy Baym’s book, “Personal Connections in the Digital Age,” she discusses four social discourses of new media which can all be related to Martin’s book. Her book is related to technological determinism, the theory that technology is all-powerful, as she believes that since social media exists, businesses must utilize it for marketing. Her book is related to social construction of technology, in which technology has no affect on us, as she claims that social media is “word of mouth” today. Social shaping, the idea that we influence technology but then respond to it, relates to Martin’s book because she believes social media is a “give and take” cycle between people and the medium. Lastly, her book is related to domestication, the assumption that something is part of the fabric of life, because Martin believes that everyone needs social media and can obtain success by implementing her strategies.
While Martin’s writing can be viewed through these different lenses, she does not consider the possibility of context collapse. Because she recommends presence on many sites, avoiding context collapse is nearly impossible. Martin should reconsider suggesting limited social media platform usage in order to prevent followers from acquiring the wrong messages. However, Martin does follow Hugo Liu’s “authentic taste performance” that he discusses in his article, “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances.” Liu’s authentic performance suggests that one proves the real self by being genuine and not trying too hard. Martin mirrors this idea by suggesting that business owners are honest and reflect their business culture onto social media, to convince consumers that they are relatable.
Martin could have included the benefits of social media’s imagined community, discussed in Larry Gross’ article, “Somewhere There’s a Place for Us.” Gross explains the benefits of social media as it “offer[s] members of a minority the opportunity to reach out to and communicate with like-minded fellows” (Gross 258). Martin fails to highlight social media as a platform for people to connect with one another from all over the world. She is so focused on the “steps” one should take to “succeed” in social media, that she does not include the implications of why people even benefit from social marketing.
Lastly, Martin does not mention the advantages of networks formed and shown on social media profiles, as discussed in Judith Donath and danah boyd’s article, “Public Displays of Connection.” They explain that social connections contribute to reliability, personal identity, social status and context. If Martin had included the importance of displaying impressive connections, specifically that relate to one’s field, her book would be more impressive and helpful.
There are endless aspects of Martin’s book that need to be updated and improved. Her suggestions are unrealistic for the time constraints she provides and her repetitive tone does not further her argument, but rather delegitimizes it. Martin does not include any case studies or concrete examples of businesses that successfully use social media, which would have enhanced her book immensely. For aliens of social media, Martin’s guide may be somewhat helpful. However, for my peers who are natives of social media, we could most likely write this book better on our own.