Gail Z. Martin’s book 30 Days to Social Media Success promises to lead small business owners to social media marketing success. Martin promises that this book applies both to first time social media users as well as those who have used social media as a marketing tool but are looking to improve their skill set. In order to communicate particularly clearly with first time social media users of her reader audience, Martin uses very basic, easy to understand terminology.
While Martin’s content and language is to the point and easy to understand, I found some of the chapter’s content to be too basic for the broad audience of small business owners that she is trying to cater to. Martin claims that her core audience includes both new social media users and those with prior experience, but I believe that Martin needs to decide exactly what level of social media knowledge her reader has and advertise the book accordingly. I feel that she wasted much of her book trying to cater to multiple levels of social media knowledge.
As a quite avid social media user, most of the beginning chapters, I found to be dull and focused more on marketing in general than social media. In chapter 3: Digging into the Business Plan for Marketing Gold for example, Martin discusses the route to finding your target audience. It is definitely a crucial aspect in social media marketing to be aware of exactly who your target audience is but from the cover and book description, a reader would choose this book to learn not who their audience is, but how to reach that audience through social media. In this chapter, I believe Martin could have benefitted from including Hugo Liu’s taste statements of “prestige, differentiation, authenticity, and theatrical persona” (Liu). Hugo Liu’s taste statements pertain to Martin’s chapter regarding target audiences because when creating a profile on any social media site as a business it is crucial to decide what online personality the company wants to take on in relation to its’ target audience. With new and often unknown businesses, the first perception people gain of the company can often be through the Internet. I believe that deciding which taste statement you are making on your business’ website, coincides directly with the audience they have chosen to target. For example, a child’s toy store may want to make a theatrical persona for their Facebook page or Twitter page in order to reach their audience in an exciting way.
Regarding audiences, Martin could have also included information from Alice E. Marwick and Danah Boyd’s article I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately, which focuses on how difficult it can be to navigate online social media communities due to context collapse. Audiences online are not as distinct as they are in the physical world, and Marwick and Boyd explain that we therefore need to be extremely thoughtful when contstructing our sites, playing close attention to the terms of goals, vocabularly, technique and subject matter (Berkenkotter, 1981).
Overall, the first section of Martin’s book is comprised primarily of general marketing information, including how to construct a SWOT analysis, which examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats a company should be aware of. I feel that chapters 1-7 if expanded could have made an excellent prequel for Social Media Success in 30 Days, rather than including this much general marketing information in a social media based book. I would advise Martin to begin Social Media Success in 30 Days with an overview of the world of social media, and then transition into Martin’s chapters 8+, where she truly begins to discuss how social media can be used to amplify the success of a company.
The later chapters emulate more what one would expect from a book titled Social Media Success in 30 Days. In Chapter 8: Creating the Social Media Marketing Plan, for example, Martin clearly outlines what social media can and cannot do for your company in addition to revealing the falsities of many widely accepted Social Media myths. She then delves into the following chapters, outlining the usefulness of particular social media sites and their basic functions. Again, while these chapters are more relevant to the social media, the book’s promised focus, they still lack the depth that most social media users today desire. Unless Martin is successfully only reaching social media beginners with her book, I presume most other readers get frustrated like myself, as they stare in disbelief while Martin takes a page and a half to describe the most basic features of a Facebook homepage. She includes summaries of Facebook’s “home, profile, status updates, wall, info and notes” (65 Martin). Her book should be renamed, “Social Media Success in 30 Days for Beginners.”
While there are many changes that I would make to Martin’s book she does do an impressive job of promoting reader interaction including short exercises at the end of each chapter and a full 30 day calendar to track your company’s path to social media success. She shares her steps to success in a very clear and accurate manner, utilizing acronyms, bulleted lists, and uses terminology accessible by everyone. Martin also successfully stresses the importance of social media in today’s business world. As Nancy Baym discusses in her book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, social media has become domesticated into society. Martin also notes this, expressing that social media is not simply a fad anymore and we have to recognize that it is here to stay.
Ultimately, I believe that Martin, ironically, marketed her book completely wrong. I was disappointed that she did not include in depth explanations of new social media software or provide surprising new social media information, only because I went into the help-guide with expectations, that as a social media user, I would be learning more. If her book was more publicly marketed as a beginner’s only guide to social media success, I feel that this book would be more successful and get better reviews. Martin should follow her own advice and remember that “unless you change your audience to suit your goals, you marketing is doomed to failure” (30 Martin).