Social Media for Noobs

Gail Martin wrote a handbook on how to become a social media success in 30 days. The cover reads “The 30 day results guide to making the most of Twitter, blogging, linkedIn and Facebook.” The initial first half of the book is an in depth description of how Ms. Martin paves your path to social media success. She expects you to harness your target audience, find out what you’re doing wrong, and “SWOT” your company. “SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” (p. 33).

“30 Days to Social Media Success” is really not a handbook for the tech savvy who wish to enhance their knowledge or discover the newer tricks of social media. Sure, this was only published a mere two years ago, which translate as prehistoric in terms of technology. Within the last two years, twitter has become a very substantial and integrated part of online marketing for companies, entrepreneurs as well as campaigns, charities and other business/political ventures. In the book however, Gail is teaching us what a #hashtag is. We know what a hashtag is, and chances are anyone that has put in time and effort to their start-up also knows what it is. It’s really evident that the target audience is for extreme beginnings or perhaps older individuals who have not been exposed to as much technology and social media as the younger generations. There was no mention of Pinterest or Instagram, two social medias that have grown in popularity within the last year, especially since Facebook’s adoption of Instagram.

And really Gail Martin, Squidoo? Digg? What is that? If my peers and I don’t know about it by now its probably irrelevant. I would have preferred to read a detailed chapter on how to form a unique personal identity based of off Hugo Liu’s taste statements, because I’d rather know how to be authentic or unique towards my target audience. The only hint at authenticity that Martin made note of was finding a “true voice” (p. 48). But chances are, if you don’t know how to use Facebook and Twitter, you’re probably not at the level where you’re thinking about what kind of taste statement you have and what your online personality is, should be, can be.

One of the few things I appreciated Martin mentioning is the potential to make connections with new, old, and potential friends. Or in other words, strong, weak and latent ties as put by Donath & boyd in their article Public Displays of Connection. Through these connections, we can reap new opportunities, advertise, and extract information that can and may help an individual enhance his or her company. However, Martin does not completely parallel her ideas with Donath & boyd’s, she is more in favor of using these mediums as a way to attract new business i.e strangers as opposed to supporting the current (yet possibly wrong, if you haven’t SWOTTED) customer base.

Its fair to assume that an author of such a handbook would herself be an avid networker with a pristine online identity and meticulous online presence. Wrong. A short trip to her website is surprising, and her twitter consists of her mentioning herself to promote her book and no sense of community with her followers due to the absence of mentions and retweets. There is no testimonials from companies or individuals she has helped on their roads to success, further supporting the argument that this book is a dinosaur. Gail Martin doesn’t try to convey the complexity of creating a lasting and significant online presence, but if it were that easy then everyone would be an internet sensation. Ultimately, she just takes on too simply of an approach, because telling me what a #hashtag is and encouraging me to use it will not make my business more inclined to success.

30 minutes for 30 days. This is the secret weapon, according to the handbook. Anyone over the age of 13 is spending more than 30 minutes on social media, per day, for personal use. However, and this was another relevant point made, guard yourself, because the internet is a permanent place, we will always be held “accountable” and everything is “searchable.” Searchability is accessibility. Truthfully, this book is not a beneficial and useful learning tool in the world of social media. Martin may have a basic understanding of how these sites function, but how to maximize their potential? Not exactly. If the book were to be rewritten, it would require a more intense understanding of the core of social media, what exactly social media is, how to benefit from it, and specifics on how to achieve success through an online presence.old-people-network-too3

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