Book Review: How to Not Suck at Social Media

@ohrtly

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How to Not Suck at Social Media – A Beginner’s Guide for Business is a book written for small businesses owners who need to set up a social media presence. It is great for those who are unfamiliar with today’s social media landscape and need a quick guide for jumping in. If the terms “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “Social Media” and “Internet” scare you, then this book can help you familiarize yourself with these concepts. Likewise, if your social media usage does not extend past taking selfies on Instagram, this book may also be of use to help one learn the basics of using social media on a corporate level.

 

How to Not Suck at Social Media gives four goals that it hopes for its readers to accomplish. The first, to no surprise, is “don’t suck”, and is followed by the goals of engaging with your audience, building your “tribe”, and networking. Next, it touches base on the popular social media platforms (including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn) and how to set up profiles on each of them. McCutcheon also discusses appropriate content, why to never use a hard-sell, and how let your own personality shine through your brand page amongst other topics.

 

As an avid social media user, I was able to find a few helpful tips on building my own network while I was reading this book. However, I did come to a quick realization that this guide was not written for my audience base (a 20-something internet-junkie) and rather for somebody who needs a quick and brief starters guide to social media.

 

Concepts To Expand On

Under the four goals McCutcheon discusses, engaging with your audience and building your tribe were two that stuck with me. Although I do not have a corporate brand page, I believe these topics are applicable to people and self-branding as well.  McCutcheon says, “Take a genuine interest in the people that choose to follow you. You will eventually become a popular kid.” This advice is easy and sound enough, and yet it is so rare that brands comment and respond to their fans. I believe these two goals can be expanded on from the ideas discussed in GroupIV and from the readings we have covered in class.

 

The idea of audience engagement and network building is reminiscent of Marwick and Boyd’s concept of “social grooming”, or caring for a relationship through social media. This idea was discussed in Tyn205’s and  michellepark’s notes. Social grooming can include liking, favoriting, sharing, retweeting, or whatever on social media channels. This type of interaction with your followers and audience may seem menial, but people like to be engaged with and love to see those little notifications pop up on their phones. Social Grooming and engaging on a genuine level, and not hard-selling, builds a positive relationship with your network that will benefit a brand in the long run. McCutcheon may be interested in the concept of ‘social grooming’ as his book discusses similar values.

 

While one ‘grooms their tribe’, different types of connections will be developed. There are three types of ties a brand will encounter through social media efforts. Ellison, Vitak, Gray, & Lampe define these in “Cultivating Social Resources on Social Network Sites” as strong, weak, and latent ties. These concepts were also discussed by michellepark and cpZoler. Strong ties are defined as close relationships with trust and intimacy and correlate with bonding social capital. Weak ties can be seen as a ‘friend of a friend’ and can be valuable to note when setting up a corporate social media page. Through weak ties, a brand can be provided with a diversity of useful information such as other related products, events, or discussions that are outside of their brand. Finally, latent ties are seen as individuals/brands that you have the potential to form a weak tie with but have not yet done so.

The goal addressed in this book of “building your tribe” can benefit from the concept of social ties. Strong ties help build social capital, weak ties can expand one’s knowledge inside and outside of their field, and utilizing latent ties can help quantify your tribe once they are turned into weak ties. Understanding the values in different types of online social relationships and their connections will help one strategize their ‘tribe building’.

 

Another worthy concept that the author could expand on is discussed in Aimee212’s notes. People who are new to social media may not want to invest the time into this medium because there is not a measurable payoff. Terranova originally coined the term of “free labor” in her article Producing Culture for the Digital Economy. You are not paid to run your social media channels and there is no direct material gain, hence it can be seen as free (and immaterial) labor.

However, building a network and investing time into social media increases your brand recognition, traffic to your website, and creates a relationship with your customers. In effect, you can have a more loyal following to your product and larger ad revenue in addition to numerous other benefits. Although investing labor into social media may not have direct payoff at first, it is a valuable asset and connection that a company can have to their customers. Small companies and those unfamiliar with social media landscapes can be put off by the idea of free labor, but it is important to understand the benefits one can gain from investing time into social media channels as discussed by both Terranova and McCutcheon.

Additional Comments and Conclusion

I would like to criticize the author’s coverage on RSS Feeds and the small amount of depth given in the “Setup” section. With Google discontinuing its feeder and the rise of Twitter, is it really necessary to invest time in setting up RSS Feeds for those who are not considered tech-savvy? In addition, if the author was to expand upon the current version of the book, I would like to propose adding in Foursquare to the Setup section after his discussion on Yelp. Creating a Foursquare profile does not require as much maintenance as other social media platforms and “checking-in” to a venue does great for connecting to one’s customer base. Especially for small business owners of restaurants and venues, Foursquare is absolutely necessary to be on.

Overall, How to Not Suck at Social Media is an adequate starter’s guide to creating a corporate/branded social media presence. Small business owners who have not yet delved into the world of social media will find this guide helpful for learning the basics.

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