Likeable Media: A Book or an Advertisement?

The title of David Kerpen’s social media how-to book, Likeable Social Media: How To Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and other social media networks) sums up the book quite well. Insofar, that it tells you the results you want to hear without revealing innovative ideas to do so. One might say that this book is a marketing gimmick on behalf of Kerpen’s media agency, Likeable Media–but nonetheless it is useful for small businesses in need of social media expertise to heal a digital divide. Likeable Media demonstrates the importance of using social media as a tool to ‘truly’ listenengage and reward consumers in ways traditional media cannot by making a brand transparent and likeable. Ultimately, for Kerpen a likeable online presence leads to long-term revenue. Thus, he provides 18 strategies to reap the benefits of using social media, gives successful examples and maps out the fundamental framework of Social Networking Sites (SNS) like FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. The strategies highlight the consumer and how a business can appear likable in their eyes. Every chapter ends with actionable items to think about how to achieve each strategy. These action items are specific steps that you can begin immediately to put Dave’s suggestions into actions. The notable strategies encourage brands to use listening tools  (to join the online conversation as a listener), collect valuable data to “hyper target” consumers, be authentic (accountable, honest and transparent) and provide a community for fans to share stories. However, Kerpen does not write about how to integrate social media with traditional media. This is an issue because social media must be integrated into a campaign seamlessly. I agree with David that customers are the biggest word of mouth assets but social media is not the only ingredient in the loyalty recipe. A company has to drive traffic to their website where there should also be added value. This article will further discuss Kerpen’s approach in writing Likeable Media.

            In terms of Nancy Baym’s four social discourses of new technology Kerpen projects social shaping and domestication discourses towards SNSs. Social shaping discourses of new technology argue that we see technology as a co-production between what technological affordances allow users to do and what users want to use it for (Baym 44). That being said, Kerpen writes that we use online platforms like Facebook as a space for a two-way conversation between a brand and a consumer. We (society) make use of Facebook’s affordances and decide to market on Facebook. Additionally, a domestication discourse of new technology assumes a technology is part of the fabric of life (Baym 45). Similarly, Kerpen assumes that all consumers can access and use a SNS. More eloquently put, KMBlogger, Sara writes “the mere fact that we do consider social media as an obvious part of every marketing plan is a move towards social media’s domestication” (Performing Likable Social Media).

           Likable Media drives the importance of social cues on SNS. Kerpen stresses that brands need to respond to as many comments possible (both the good and the bad) and immediately address and fix mistakes in order to appear authentic and human. Kerpen’s says that, “not responding at ALL is a response” (Kerpen 78). However, these chapters seem dramatic because brands cannot respond to everyone and comments can be addressed in status updates. It also depends on the platform. Twitter’s affordances allow a brand to respond to more people than on Facebook. Moreover, Kerpen believes brands need to feel watched, always listen and then respond because someone is always watching. The Internet is like Michel Foucault’s panopticism theory meaning that we self regulate our behaviors online because the possibility of someone watching is always present. Consequently, in respect to Hugo Liu’s article, “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances” by addressing mistakes a brand shows slight imperfections and appears authentic, casual and likeable. Moreover, he says the way to market content online without sounding like your marketing content is to not market content. He believes companies’ social media posts should read like they are speaking to their customers in person. Kerpen pushes brands to be authentic through social cues. He writes that, “if you are real, authentic…then your customers will trust you” (Kerpen 107). Personally, his authentic arguments are too subjective. Authenticity is a different for every brand—the social cues are the same but in order to be authentic a brand needs to transfer their current brand image that’s offline to the online world. If brands have a different online personality then their offline personality then they consequently becomes in authentic—Kerpen did not mention that affect.

According to Erving Goffman’s theory in the “Presentation of The Self In Everyday Life”, we are always performing and our performance depends on our audiences. In “front stage” behavior we choose to present the expressions we give off. Conversely, “back stage” behavior is the unintentional performance; what others perceive as truthful. Kerpen urges brands to listen to their consumers and gather information from their “insider’s view” (back stage) performances with search and analytic tools to find out what they really want (Kerpen 100). For instance, Kerpen writes that “the value of a like compared to the immediate sale…will yield a better return” (Kerpen 57). From that feedback brands can adjust their “front stage” behavior accordingly. Digital media resource tools help brands find out about themselves from what people are saying (Anthony Giddens). Kerpen points out that brands can reach out to powerful influencers (brand ambassadors) with the “backstage” consumer information. He writes about different incentives to offer them in exchange for sharing positive sentiment publicly (i.e.. blogging, product reviews ect.).

Facebook Sales Funnel (Kerpen 209)

Overall, Kerpen’s book, Likeable Media provides the general tools for a brand to maintain a safe, stable online presence while deepening relationships with consumers on social media. His book is a fast read and repeats crucial social norms for marketing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. He emphasizes the importance of getting Facebook likes but his strategies seem a bit empty. Lu Li, a KMBlogger said Kerpen’s book “succeeded in providing us with rich information on the “hows”, it failed to explain the “whys”. Social media is no magic and do not guarantee success” (BOOK REVIEW: MY LIKES & DISLIKES OF “LIKEABLE SOCIAL MEDIA”). Moreover, Kerpen provides cliché examples from his media agency and draws upon brands like Oreo and Fiskateers–all of which I have read about beforehand. Tim Burner-Lee designed the World Wide Web to navigate through linkage and content sharing/discovery. An electronic document or any text does not exist by itself it is part of the collective web-that it what differs digital text from static offline text. Naturally, a company’s social media pages should strategically link to their website and other relevant resources to keep the customer with them beyond Facebook. In addition, there is a lack of innovative ideas for cohesive solutions to integrate social media into a campaign. This is partially because the book is a bit out dated. In an updated version I would like to see more emphasis on mobile and tablet strategies. I am curious what Kerpen would say about other social networking sites like, Instagram and Pinterest in an updated version as well. Thereby, this book is not for the savvy digital media company but it is helpful for a small business learning where to begin with using social media.

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One comment

  1. davekerpen · · Reply

    Thanks for your review. I do address Instagram, Pinterest and other newer platforms and tools in the 2nd edition of my book, published in October of 2012.
    I will disagree with you about companies’ ability to respond to every comment on Facebook, as we do this every day working with companies with millions of likes.
    Also, the purpose of my book wasn’t to explain why, but how.
    Thanks again for the review and the (mostly) kind words. Best. Dave

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