The New York Times and USA Today gave a big thumbs up to Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen. Kerpen shows the importance of companies utilizing social media marketing to propel business and growth. Throughout the book, Kerpen stresses the importance of being transparent, responsive and engaging. He views social media as a way to be in constant conversation with customers, while being engaging and authentic with consumers as well. Kerpen writes that “the social media revolution has given consumers around the world the most powerful voice they’ve ever had. It also forced companies to think about how they can be more transparent and responsive” (4). Social media has the potential to be used to create great social and economic changes within a company, and Kerpen argues that by being engaging, transparent, and responsive to customers, that it can create these changes.
The book is a strong supporter for utilizing social media to help create an irresistible and “likable” brand. Although the author believes in utilizing social media to market a brand and business, it seems that Kerpen fails to address a few issues. He argues why social media is helpful to companies, but he fails to address the downsides of using social media marketing. Kerpen suggests that companies use a Facebook page instead of a company website because it can do more than a website can by engaging in direct conversation with consumers. What Kerpen does not see is that this strategy of outing a website is not suitable for all people. There are many people who do not use Facebook, and they would therefore be unable to access the company’s profile and information. In addition, when explaining how social media can be used as a major marketing tool, Kerpen does not specifically differentiate the use of social media between small businesses and much larger corporations. Although it can be noted that social media provides companies with opportunities to network and engage with consumers in conversation, the manner in which smaller businesses use social media may be different from the way larger corporations utilize these sites, due to the more connections and “friends” larger companies have access to. Likable does not make it clear as to how social media usage varies between these two contrasting institutions, but rather gives a more broad view of how social media can be beneficial for a company’s growth.
When looking at Nancy Baym’s four social discourses, social shaping comes to mind when relating Kerpen’s ideas presented in his book. Baym explains that social shaping is the relationship between technological affordances and users, and this idea is most fitting with Kerpen’s main arguments. Social shaping looks at how technology and society interact with each other, and how to bridge online and offline realities. The original intended purpose of many social media sites was to network with other users, and to have a platform in which to engage in conversation with friends and new acquaintances. This original purpose is still prevalent today, yet as Kerpen points out, social media is now largely used for marketing companies and brands. People have used the technology that is available to them today and have adopted new purposes for these technologies, and helped to transform the ways in which participants use these media sites.
In addition, Kerpen highlights the fact that social media marketing sites such, as “Facebook and Twitter, simply are not broadcast media, they are engagement media, or listening networks” (7). Glynn Mangold and David Faulds’s article Social Media: The new hybrid element of promotion mix agrees with Keplen, and views social media marketing as a way to have a conversation between consumers and producers, as well as between consumers and consumers. They write that “social media is a hybrid element of the promotion mix because in a traditional sense it enables companies to talk to their customers, while in a nontraditional sense it enables customers to talk directly to one another” (1). There is no denying that social media marketing is a valuable asset to a company, but it is also a risky asset to take on. Maintaining social media sites is very time consuming, and in order for these marketing methods to be effective, they must be maintained regularly. Social media provides an ongoing conversation with consumers and companies have to prepare for both positive and negative comments. If a company is not able to upkeep these sites, the results one may hope to see through social media marketing, may not be successful.
Not only is it important and difficult to maintain a company’s presence on social media, it is also vital that the identity of a company’s profile is an authentic one. Authenticity is key when creating a successful image on social media sites because customers want to feel as if they can trust you and your brand. Authenticity can be conveyed through creating an accurate and honest profile, and by being honest about your products. Hugo Lui explains that, “in the pseudonymous and text-heavy online world, there is even greater room for identity experimentation, as one does not fully exist online until one writes oneself into being through ‘‘textual performances’’ (252). The idea of authenticity is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing according to both Kerpen and Lui. Social media triggers consumer engagement, and forces conversations between businesses and their customers. Customers expect businesses to be honest with them, and this honesty and authenticity is what causes customers to be loyal and to be returning customers.
In conclusion, Kerpen’s Likable was an enjoyable read. Although the intended audience is targeted towards business owners looking to propel their businesses with the help of social media, I tried to see how I could use this information as a college student, and not as a business owner. The concepts discussed in the book were very basic, such as how to use basic Facebook functions such as the “like” button. A lot of the information seemed obvious and straightforward for most college students, reaffirming that the intended audience is business owners, and older individuals who are not familiar with social media sites. Even though I am not included in the targeted audience, I think there are some points to take away that pertain to college students. With regards to entering and preparing for the job world, it is critical to be aware of how important it is to integrate social media into a brand. The book also explained how presenting an authentic and engaging public image is key when creating your profile. Whether you’re a business owner trying to be part of the social media trend, or a college student reading this book for a class project, Kerpen shows that social media can help businesses and people achieve a “likable” image.