Only 30 Days to “success” on Social Media?

In her book, 30 Days to Social Media Success: The 30 Day Result Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn, and Facebook, Gail Z. Martin attempts to provide a “strategic social media platform for your business, focused on reaching one’s best target audience in pursuit of ones top business goal.” (Loc 50) Basically, she offers her supposed social media marketing expertise to rework the business and marketing plans of her readers. She outlines steps in achieving “success” through/on social media for a company/individual in a thirty-day time frame; her book is divided into thirty short chapters to be read one-a-day, each ending with reminders, tips and exercises. Having said that, I believe that the organization of the book was solid—though the content seemed basic and oversimplified, rendering many of the exercises and tips extraneous and irrelevant. Keeping in mind that the book was published in 2010, I still found certain parts of the book to be almost like filler.

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Her first seven chapters serve to make sure that marketing goals are in line with business goals. From chapters eight to twenty-one, she introduces “popular” social media sites and provides tips on how to use them to promote a business. In the last chapters of the book she explains how to “tie business goals and social media strategy together with other marketing actions for enduring results.” (Loc 87) Martin’s approach to the book seems to run along the lines of what Baym would define as the “social shaping” of technology, touching on the “domestication” of technology. Social media sites exist with certain affordances, and both marketing managers can use and bend these sites to fit the needs of a business.

Martin says writing for small business owners. After reading her book, I’d like to narrow down the audience to small business owners, pressed for time, who are most importantly, not netizens or users of social media. The audience is probably the main reason why I found this book to contain so much “filler,” as it did affect the presentation of topics—an example being the way she presented the social network sites. In each chapter regarding a social media site, she presented the “anatomy” of the site, which for Facebook included: “home,” “profile,” and “wall.” (Loc 477)

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Reading sections like this one made me unusually upset, as for even the audience I outlined above, if by chance they never had a personal account on the site (which is harder and harder to believe), this information is available through the tour of Facebook. I feel like so much of the second part of the book just grazed the basics of social media, where I wanted more depth, understanding, and explicit references.

The short, digestible chapters seem to make “success” attainable for any kind of business through the thirty minutes a day she outlines. Still though, some of the exercises she outlines—when useful/appropriate for the kind of business, would and should take more than the allotted time. Also, as part of her “RESULTS approach” she talks about being very committed—so why then is she writing a book to be implemented over only thirty minutes a day? At a certain point in my reading, I was curious about Gail Z. Martin’s own use of social media. After looking at her Twitter and website, I was even more put off by the book. Continuing to read though, it was clear that Martin did have some interesting/valid points and tips mixed in, even though her execution, both in the book and personally on the Internet were completely off.

Some of the tools for marketing and branding that she introduces would actually be interesting to look at in relation to Hugo Liu’s piece, Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances. According to Martin, marketing managers/business owners should incorporate their “Real Story” of the brand using their “True Voice,” also showing “Irresistible Difference,” how the brand is different from competitors. (Loc 1145) Through the lens of Liu’s taste statements, it seems that Gail Martin advocates for the usage of a blend of statements that convey authenticity and difference—brands must set themselves apart while maintaining a performance of authenticity for their audience. Goffman’s ideas of performance, specifically on the front-stage/back-stage in his work, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life would be interesting to bring up as well. The “homework” that Martin proposes to her readers is very much back-stage work, the crafting of a social media presence. The front-stage is the platforms by which the consumers (audience) interact with the business.

The two most useful readings from this course in relation to Gail Z. Martin’s book are: The complex problem of monetizing virtual electronic social networks by Eric K. Clemons and Social Media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix by Mangold and Faulds which I believe collectively serve the goal that Gail Martin had set out to accomplish in her book. Both the Clemons and Mangold & Faulds actually set up social media in relation to traditional integrated marketing communications and advertising, which this book lacks. Clemons’s paper focused on promotional informational activities, which was a theme of Martin throughout her book. Mangold & Faulds described social media as the “new hybrid element of the promotion mix,” something to be incorporated into a business’s marketing platform which I believe goes hand-in-hand with what Martin would like to say, though she was limited by the scope of her book. They also mention the importance of providing information, exclusivity (what Martin would classify as consumers “being in the know”), and the power of stories (useful in regards to Martin’s “True Story”).

If Gail Martin were to rewrite this book, she would obviously have to get rid of outdated information (her chapter on Squidoo to start), probably rename the book 100 Days to Social Media Success, and I’d actually like to see references to other work. After reading her book and looking at her presence on social media there’s so much distrust I have for her that could be only slightly remedied by references to academic work and research, along with solid “success” stories.

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