Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Social Media is a crash course in the science of branding tools. From the beginning of the 18 Chapter how-to-guide, Kerpen identifies the importance of forging a “brand personality”, or creating an identity for one’s company that consumers can identity, promote, and interact with. In the Digital Age, where vast amounts of data, advertisement, and discussion take place across the Internet, Kerpen asserts that it is essential to understand the tools and systems that are in place to promote a brand, spanning from corporate networks like Linkdin to the advertisement targeting services of Facebook.
It is clear, from a technological perspective, that owning a small business is not what it used to be. A century ago, there were few factors involved in controlling your company’s identity and reputation. These included your product, quality of service, and relationship to the media. Anything beyond was word of mouth and generally deemed beyond control.
In today’s world, however, there is a constant network of information criss-crossing over the globe in the form of social media. Where the public sees the Facebook Interests list as a way to show off favorite hobbies, books, and music, marketers like Kerpen see opportuity.In 2010 alone, Facebook earned over 1.2 billion dollars in advertisement revenue (28). Businesses, large and small, supplied this money and what they bought was a portion of your Facebook page. Through the targeted Facebook advertisement it is possible to identify a select group of people who have chosen to publicize—Like—a hobby or product. The results can be narrowed to so vastly that you can target 1 person out of the hundreds of millions Facebook users.
Kerpen uses a large portion of his book to describe these social media tools for advertisement. Whether it SEO optimization or the Facebook newsfeed algorithm, Kerpen’s focus on the technical aspects of Social Media Marketing reflects a paradigm shift in the nature of advertising and small business strategies. Dave Kerpen suggests that traditional media of newspapers and radio are becoming outdated for advertisement, simply because of the sheer amount of information on the Internet and the number of active users. Kerpen instead contends that in order to have a successful marketing plan and gain consumer attention, a business must maintain a constant stream of Social Media Interactivity. In the digital sphere, algorithms determine what is seen or heard. The more traffic or activity a topic or page receives the more likely it is to be featured and seen by the masses. The essence of it is that there is a mathematic process to being noticed online.
Here it is:
But as important as these technical tools are, Kerpen constantly reminds the reader that the Interactive relationship between company and customer is paramount. His constant harping on branding one’s company, shaping its business identity, is actually a continuationof an age old concept. Take the case of Henry Ford. Ford made significant effort to align his brand with the everyman. He gave the workers in his company fair labor and benefits, donated to charities, and had a generally utilitarian perception surrounding his name. This perception did wonders for the success of his company, creating a brand for the American family.
In Likeable Social Media Dave Kerpen attempts to provide business owners the knowledge develop a relationship with their customers on todays new mediums. However, Kerpen is not writing his book for those who wish to be the next Henry Ford. Kerpen’s target audience is the small business owner looking to get off the ground and gain public awareness. And according to Kerpen one of the first and most instrumental steps to doing so is creating Facebook Business Page, creating an interactive relationship between business and consumer, and understanding that is not “about the brand its about the customer” (46).
Thus appears a noteworthy distinction. Businesses like Ford in the industrial age and Apple in the millennium created iconic brands with their own identity or lifestyle that consumers would identify with or adapt to. Kerpen’s strategies most generally involve identifying and targeting the consumer most likely to use the product and creating a relationship with them, listening to their opinions, addressing their issues, and adjusting their image to involve their potential customer.
Much of the strategies that Kerpen reinforces involve basic human interaction, thoughtful answering of questions, addressing problems before the customer gets upset, posting stories, photos, contests, and of course constant self promotion of the social media page. Because social media is a network, one Like can have a ripple effect touching thousands of people, and a Facebook can generate even more attention.
Above all Dave Kerpen instructs the owners of business to “just be Likeable”. To run a successful social media brand you need to be authentic (Liu would approve), punctual, and most important of all, unceasing in your focus to company’s social media persona.
In all Likeable Social Media serves its purpose: to instruct the generally non tech savvy in the ways of social media technology and toprovide a rudimentary guideline to interacting with customers online. It is clear he has experience; he promotes his company Likeable Media enough for us to grasp that he’s had some success in the business. And he certainly follows his in rules of constant interactivity in his Twitter profile. But the book failed to reach any ground breaking territory with me. It did not inspire innovation or advise how to break apart from sea of companies all running Facebook pages and posting daily statuses advising us to “Floss Our Teeth”…see “painlessdrz” Dr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook page (yes Mark Zuckerberg’s father, the dentist).
But the book did what it hoped to do and if it partook in the self-promotion that it so blatantly advocated? Well I can’t criticize Dave Kerpen too much for that.