Gail Z. Martin’s Guide to Social Media Success

It’s no secret that we all love our social media. For many of us, it’s become a fiber of our very being! Aside from all of our personal escapades on social media, believe it or not, it’s actually used for some other things other than posting selfies! Social media has made a major impact on the world of business as well. Social media, in many ways, become an integral part of reaching target audiences, and furthermore serving as a platform for marketing and advertising. Because social media now has such a large presence in business, it is necessary for people to know just how to use it properly and successfully.

In her book,30 Days to Social Media Success, Gail Z. Martin offers her insights on how to utilize social media in successful business ventures. According to Martin, social networking poses great business opportunities if used in the right way. She breaks down various social networking sites to help further understand them. She alerts that, “social media is not single-handedly likely to turn your company around, make you a millionaire […] Social media is a tool” (Martin 57). Martin puts forth some very useful tips in her book, and the book is an appropriate discussion of social networking for a specific audience. However, with that said, the book lacks some depth and is only geared toward a certain type of user.

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Broadly speaking, the book is told through the eyes of what Nancy Baymcalls domestication and social shaping, in her book Personal Connections in the Digital Age. According to Baym, domestication is a phenomenon where social media becomes a part of daily life. In Martin’s book, she argues that social media is no longer a trend and is here to stay. For this reason, we must embrace social media and understand it because it is not going away anytime soon. “Social media is here to stay, and it’s becoming a powerful cultural force” (Martin 60). Discourse such as this falls under Baym’s concept of domestication. Martin also uses discourses of social shaping when she discusses social media as a two-way relationship. Especially as she says social media is merely a tool, and won’t make you successful on its own. To have business success with social media, you must interact with the sites rather than depending on them (Martin 57).

One way in which this book is helpful, is Martin’s ability to break down social media. Her audience is clearly people who have not used social media very often, and small business owners. In other words, people who are not netizens, or those who use social media often in their daily lives. Image(photo) Because her audience is a group of people who are not well versed in social media, she does a good job of simplifying social media so that they become easy to understand. For example, Martin goes through sites such as Facebook and breaks it down by its different functions such as the Profile, Home, Wall, Info, Notes etc. Furthermore, her language in discussing these sites is helpful because she compares them to other tangible concepts. For example, Martin says “Facebook is like a business networking luncheon, then LinkedIn is like a personal referral. […]Twitter is the cocktail party of the social media scene” (Martin 69,75). She almost “dumbs” it down, which can prove to be helpful for people who are just coming to use these sites for the first time. It becomes clear that her target audience definitely has an affect on how she approaches the various concepts discussed in her book.

Though Martin is successful in simplifying social media, there are a few elements that are missing in her book. One thing that could have been really helpful for her to discuss is the concept of weak ties. In her article, “Strong, Weak, and Latent Ties and the Impact of New Media”Caroline Haythornthwaite discusses that there different types of connections you can have on social networking sites. For example you can have strong, weak and latent ties. Weak ties, she says are usually only connections over one channel. However, they usually provide professional support for new opportunities and new information through communication (Haythornthwaite 390). It would have been helpful for Martin to discuss these weak ties because the concept directly influences the whole point of her book. It would be a productive way to understand business opportunities on social networking sites because of the potential for social capital (Ellison, Steinfeld & Lampe). Furthermore, it would have been helpful for Martin to discuss the various taste statements on social media. Hugo Liu in the article, “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances” talks directly about how we perform our identities on social networking sites. According to the author, there different groups that one’s profile can fall within. For example, one’s profile can be communicate a Prestige Statement, Differentiation Statement, Authentic Statement or that of a Theatrical Persona. When looking at someone’s profile, “a first pass over the profiles focused on noting the impressions fostered by each profile” (Liu 262). These various performances come into play when on social media and it would have been really beneficial for Martin to bring in this concept. If you understand these statements, then you might be able to better broadcast or market your business online according to whatever statement you choose to put forth for the brand.

Overall, she does a good job of simplifying social media, however she may have over-simplified it. This is one of the major downfalls of her book because she is giving into the digital divide, which is between those who use new technology and those who don’t. Furthermore, she also makes the assumption that everyone has access to a computer. So how do the people without all of this time with computers become successful in business? Maybe she should have given advice for this group of people as well. But regardless, I believe the book provides a good foundation and basic approach to social media but stops there. It fails to advance with its audience, therefore stunting their growth as social media savvy people.

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