Me and Gail Martin Together, Stars 4ever

Oh, Gail Martin. I really can’t be mad at you for 30 Days To Social Media Success because I feel like I know you. I’m not mad at you for writing a book called 30 Days To Social Media Success and then kind of skipping over that whole “success” thing and mostly talking about 30 days you’ll spend on social media, because hey, sometimes this happens. I’m not sure what’s more condescending, addressing Gail Martin as “Gail” or “Mrs. Martin” (?) but regardless, Gail or Mrs. Martin, I feel like I can’t be mad at you because I am you! And I too have this problem when I’m working on something I think I know a lot about, that’s also really exciting to me (and to my readers…I hope!). But when it comes to the execution I seem to get a lot of track changes from my loved ones saying “YOU REALLY LOVE THE WORD CONNOTE” and “Nikki, it’s raining quotes, can you please try and introduce your thoughts?” and it hurts. How come people won’t let us be great?

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Unfortunately Mrs. Martin, you and I might not be get As on everything we turn in for review, but that’s okay! Because it’s 2012, and you’ll publish other books and I’ll hopefully become a Life Coach without a masters degree. This review of your book 30 Days to Social Media Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn, and Facebook, will be constructive and I won’t give you a grade. In fact, haters to the left, this is the support group for Gail Martin’s book 30 Days to Social Media Success. In this review you will find commentary on where Gail Martin could have elaborated a bit more, or forgot to include things, but it’ll never be to the tune of “omg, lol what were you thinking?”. I find this to be a helpful approach to Gail Martin’s book because it’s not off topic from Martin’s original subject or message, since we all like to talk about our feelings, about brands, on the Internet (too).

The greatest take away for readers of Martin’s book is her emphasis on the importance of an audience for a business’s social networking profile. Whether it is a more traditional platform for social networking like Facebook or Twitter, or conversely a networking site like Squidoo, Martin clearly outlines how each site operates, and in turn the best approaches for a business to connect with its customers. This is certainly helpful for the non-netizen, because like Martin also points out in her book, “Browse profiles, and you’ll see that social media isn’t just for teens. A large and growing percentage of users are older than 30 years old.” Dan Slater, author of Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline, notes that there are two ways to approach culture and social media developments. We [all social networking users] must first look at the larger cultural processes, i.e. how social networking is being used, and secondly how cultures emerge around specific social media technologies. Martin’s writing aims to address this to her readers, though it’s slightly redundant to reinforce the importance of a brand’s connection with its audience, while also explaining the basic ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, and a site that never came to fruition like Squidoo.

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A cute hat you can buy if you use Squidoo or wear hats.

It would strengthen Martin’s offline advice about marketing strategies if she made it clearer who she’s trying to address with her writing. The title of her book implies it can be useful to someone who is already familiar with social networking sites and just starting a business. However, her book provides detail that the netizen wouldn’t need clarified. In spite of this, Martin’s book would definitely be useful to a business that already has a following, and should (or needs to) adapt to the expanding online consumer culture. Furthermore a business just starting up, by the grace of someone who doesn’t use social networking for personal or business use, would likely find many uses from Martin’s text, however I’m not sure if this would correlate to high book sales.

To this point, Martin’s book lacks advice for how to deal with negative feedback, or “trolls”, for both the netizen and non-netizen reader. Netizens are aware of how an online space affords the criticizer (or troll) a comfortable distance from the person or product they’re critiquing. As this would likely affect relationships between friends (or Friends), the online space both disembeds and “disembodies” the identities of those contributing negative (or any) feedback. In 2008, danah boyd and Nicole Ellison published their research on social networking and contributed useful information to both the academic’s as well as the consumer’s understanding of online connections. They show how online spaces allow for an irrelevance of a specific geographical location (disembedding) in order to be apart of “the conversation”. In addition to this, social networking sites also allow for a disembodiment of the user’s offline “self”, as online identities contribute to offline identities, and can be seen as an extension of one’s thoughts, feelings, or opinions.  As Martin’s book was published in 2010, I was surprised to see that she didn’t have any advice for this common problem, and how it can be either helpful or hurtful to an online-business reputation.

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Ex: (Internet) Trolling IRL

Netizens are familiar with the confrontational format of online spaces, because both social networking sites (like Facebook or Twitter), and their journalistic cousins (pop-media-news content sites like Gawker or Huffington Post) clearly demonstrate how quickly conversations can escalate. If Martin addressed this common social networking phenomenon, both netizens and non-netizens would benefit from tips, or at the very least an introduction to the concept of “trolling”, and to prepare themselves for this unaccounted risk. Similarly, to the non-netizen audience I’ve assumed would be best for Martin’s book, non-netizens should be given some background on sites like Yelp, that specifically exist to better integrate the traffic as well as feedback, between businesses and consumers.

Lastly, Martin’s book applies quite generous lense to the relationship between businesses and social media marketing, or as she calls it, success. As I’m comfortable claiming the “netizen” label, I have to say, I’m much more likely to follow businesses like Sephora on my social networking sites, before I follow other businesses, like Tums, that I probably frequent as much as Sephora. Frankly, I’m more interested in reading about upcoming launches at Sephora than I am for a brand like Tums, because their level of importance in my life is mutually exclusive from one another. I will probably use/consume Tums for the rest of my life, as I will hopefully be eating delicious food for a long time to come. On the other hand, I’m much more particular about how I chose to consume products from Sephora, and would be more interested in upcoming releases or sales. Martin outlines very generic ways to gain success from social media, and I don’t think every business can have the same approach toward social media marketing.

Speaking to a further non-profit consumer (business) organization, I don’t think Martin’s book would be helpful, for say, a business/organization like Teen Line. Teen Line was the popular go-to for youth struggling with emotional or mental problems while I was growing up. Posters, stickers, and flyers were prevalent in the schools I attended, and that’s how I knew about the organization. However, Martin’s book doesn’t specify who’s seeking success, and what that success means. Does this mean more sales for businesses like Sephora or Tums? Or conversely, does this mean success in a less monetary sense, for an organization like Teen Line, needing to expand their reach/resources?

This would be the biggest reddest track note from me to Gail Martin, because she initially tells readers that social media isn’t just for teens, but doesn’t provide detail on how social media can operate successfully with alternative (non-monetary) success.

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CSMT crescendo

In conclusion, if I had to determine who the best audience would be for 30 Days To Social Media Success, I would probably recommend this book to my cousin, who’s still in the womb, to read while he or she is in the womb. Otherwise, Martin’s writing is not applicable to the majority of people in 2012, seeking social media success. However, as both online and offline media and are ever evolving, maybe Gail Martin’s book could be useful to study how society measured success in 2010.

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