Book Review (First Draft): Likeable Social Media
In the 2011 book Likeable Social Media, author and CEO/entrepreneur Dave Kerpen of social media marketing firm Likeable Media, writes about his specific techniques and strategies to “delight your customers, create an irresistible brand, and be generally amazing on Facebook”, as it says on the cover. Kerpen begins using his own personal anecdote of an experience he had in Las Vegas involving two hotels. To sum up, he “Liked” one hotel on Facebook due to its responsiveness to one of his messages on social media site. Since his “Like” was viewable to his friends on Facebook, he saw that like as a recommendation of sorts. He postulated, “one tweet led to one like on Facebook, and in fact, thousands of dollars worth of business” (Kerpen 2). This quote seems to sum up Kerpen’s whole idea about how to be successful using social media, from a business standpoint at least.
Kerpen came up with four main concepts for being successful were laid out nicely and each garnered a certain amount of chapters that provided examples, case studies, and written explanations. His “mantra” was: “listen carefully, be transparent, be responsive, be authentic and tell great stories”(Kerpen 7). While there were some ideas and concepts that I thought Kerpen really nailed, there were also some major things that kept the book from becoming something that I could really benefit from as a reader.
Though the book was pretty informative and easy to pick up and read, I really felt like the strategies Kerpen urged us to employ were somewhat obvious and geared towards an audience that as undergraduate students, we might not be a part of. Kerpen’s target audience in this respect seemed to be business owners or entrepreneurs who wished to further their brand or business by using his social media practices and techniques. Since I am an undergraduate student at NYU and though will soon be graduating, I have not “gotten off my feet” yet so to speak, or formed a business or my own company. Cognizant of this, much of the advice that Kerpen gives is understood with a prerequisite that the reader is a business owner or entrepreneur. The way he talks about these strategies usually involves the phrases your brand or your customers, both of which are things I do not have. Thus, his ideas in this book are truly instrumental for business owners, not a student like myself. I believe his audience to be a bit older than I am, they might not be as familiar with social media sites and practices, which might have caused me to view them as obvious, to a recreational social media site user like myself. For example, in one of his last chapters titled “Consistently Deliver Excitement, Surprise, and Delight”, he urges readers to be different and “operationalize surprise and delight” (Kerpen 201) It is not new to many social network site users like myself that more often than not, the most popular statuses or shares on Facebook tend to be the ones that are bold, controversial, funny, or purposefully intriguing.
To contextualize how Kerpen frames his overall ideas about how social media network sites can be useful for business owners, we can look at Baym’s four social discourses of new technology. In my opinion, Baym’s “social shaping” of technology, where “consequences of technologies arise from a mix of ‘affordances’ and the unexpected and emergent ways that people make use of these affordances” (Baym 44). is the discourse that most closely applies to Kerpen’s postulations. The social capabilities inherent in the social networking sites, such as liking things on Facebook, tweeting, sending comments/messages, etc., drives the overall strategies and success that Kerpen strives to enlighten us with throughout his book.
It is not to say that the strategies and techniques Kerpen urges its readers to utilize are not useful or clever, though. In fact, a couple notions and approaches that Kerpen spoke about were things we have discussed and read about in class. One integral aspect to Kerpen’s success on social media network sites was to be authentic and transparent. As we have read in the past, being authentic all the time is less of a reality than people hope it to be. In Hugo Liu’s Social Network Profiles As Taste Performances, he writes about the four taste performances, one of which is “authenticity”. This intersects perfectly with Kerpen’s ideas on the performative nature of social network sites, where he writes, “social networking is more of a performance than a reality” (Kerpen 97). I would think that Liu would agree with him on that point. They both speak a bit about authenticity (as Kerpen dedicated a whole chapter to the idea), while Liu postulates “authenticity is associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection” (Liu 264). Similarly, Kerpen stresses the reader to be “real, authentic, and human” in their actions on social media sites to gain more reputability and business from current and potential customers. I believe this is an accurate assessment of how to “perform” on social media sites, since honesty and authenticity are almost a prerequisite to being “likeable” on social media, as Kerpen firmly believes.