Fail Gail

Gail Z. Martin might be a professional in the marketing world, but she’s not an expert when it comes to social media. In her book 30 Days to Social Media Success she targets small business owners and professionals that want to build their social media presence. The first chapters cover what marketing strategies to use that will reflect the goals of a small business. Martin then goes over many social media sites from the more popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, to the less known sites like Squidoo and Digg. She then ties together business goals, social media and marketing strategies for what she believes will add up to success. Throughout the book she gives the reader the basics of social media sites, and does nothing that is boundary breaking or innovative.

This book is for those lacking social media skills, for readers that may have had experience with putting up a business website, and have had misconceptions about social media. Martin’s target audience are clearly non-neitizens, which means that the audience for this book is not made up of active users of technology. There may be some amount of digital divide at play, in terms of the business owners resources to access social media or that readers have reached an age where they might not have had experience with social media and cannot make the transition easily.

Martin does a good job of covering the basics of popular social media sites, noting the similarities that many social media sites have in common. Much like the Nancy Baym describes in her book Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Martin notes that communities exist online. In Chapter 20 of Martin’s book she talks about the importance of integration between a business and a community. Martin also notes the importance of asynchronous communication and storage which are terms that Baym uses to talk about communication and media technologies. Gail notes that asynchronous communication is possible on many social media sites, especially with the use of cellphones (167). Martin warns users of the book that because content on social media are persistent, this means that whatever comments and content are posted online will continue to be there and allow for searchability (144). This comes off as a warning to business owners in that they should be careful about what they post.

Martin is aware of Baym’s concept of social shaping which she uses to explain that social media can be manipulated to work with business marketing strategies. Martin’s concept of this is flawed in that she recommends the use of every social media site for a business and does not recommend one over another. Gail Martin suggests that the use of all these social media sites will benefit business owners and that they should devote equal time and effort into them. This stretches out the limitations of a business owner quite thin. Business owners are most likely dealing with business details outside of social media, and even if 30 minutes is spent to some of the sites, there would not be enough time or effort. Instead, she should suggest which of the social media tools are the strongest and will lead to the most successful results.

Martin also goes beyond the use of social media, suggesting that business owners use blogs. I think that building a successful blog is different from the micro-blogging that occurs on Twitter. It requires more time and effort because they call for lengthy and routine posts.This suggestion seems to push the limit of commercial self-promotion. While in the beginning of the book Martin was resourceful in the ways that she could apply marketing strategies to any type of social media sites, she applied it to too many sites that are not intended for companies, or usually used by companies, and perhaps there was a reason for this.

What was useful in Martin’s book is that she acknowledged that a business professional should have a certain taste performance. As a business marketing strategy, Martin finds it important that a business find their True Voice and tell their Real Story in Chapter 6. A Real Story is meant to be emotionally touching to the costumer, and this should be told in a True Voice by using strategic words and phrases, and keeping a sincere tone on social media. Hugo Liu would identify this as promoting a taste performance. Specifically, Martin advocates for an authentic taste statement. In a section of the book called Avoiding the Case of Mistaken Identity, she claims that ones’ True Self should exude from every social media platform, and that if it doesn’t, then customers will be able to tell (149). She claims that in order to keep what Liu would call an authentic persona, that social media websites must match up in the image that is presented and ones’ True Voice. She does this by pointing out that all pictures, designs, logos, and color layouts should be uniform, appealing, and that the right impression should be made (150).

Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd in the reading I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately would claim that because there is a taste performance, there is also an imagined audience. In many times during the book Martin stresses the importance of matching social media sites and marketing strategies with the target audience. What Gail Martin doesn’t warn the readers is that this is done to avoid context collapse. Martin suggests preventive measures for it, but never identifies what could happen if users did not correctly identify their target audience. Marwick and Boyd would say that the importance of matching up the target audience to each site and marketing strategy is done to avoid multiple target audiences to be collapsed together as one.

With today’s growing variety of social media choices, your sales promotion possibilities are limited only by your imagination(132).

Clearly Gail Martin’s imagination was limited in that her steps for social media success consisted of the basic affordances and elements of social media, which only a social media newbie could benefit from.

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One comment

  1. […] into the digital divide, which is between those who use new technology and those who don’t. Jakeline Bedoya agrees in her review of Martin’s book, “Fail Gail” with this notion because she too, believes […]

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