Google Could Have Told You This For Free: How to NOT Suck at Social Media BOOK REVIEW

How to NOT Suck at Social Media by Malcom McCutcheon was published just last month, October 2013. By 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. While some might say the majority of the population of the world was not fully immersed in social media networking, I would say Google definitely had it down packed by this time. In this case, Malcom McCutcheon was only about three years too late with his book. McCutcheon sets out to accomplish these four goals:

1. To not suck
2. To engage with your current and prospective customers
3. To build your “tribe”
4. To network, damnit!

Unfortunately, McCutcheon failed to impress his readers. The general consensus from our group review notes agreed that the book did not fully capture everything we expected to learn. It left most of us thirsty; we wanted to learn something incredibly new and refreshing.

After contemplating why a man who seems to be very intelligent and successful would choose to write and publish a book like this, I realized there could only be a few reasons. The first reason is that Mr. McCutcheon simply wanted recognition and credibility, as a business owner of a marketing firm, Bossa Nova Interactive. He does not care about the amount of money he makes from selling his book. This man cares about the amount of press he can get and the amount of books he can drop on the table when he is meeting with potential clients. Executives are taken more seriously when they are able to say “Hey Mr. Big Shot Business Executive, Look! I know what I am talking about. Please hire my company to handle your social media networking.” Mr. McCutcheon knows Mr. Big Shot Executive will not have the time to sit there and read his book. He will assume this man knows what he is talking about given he is able to successfully publish a book on this subject. This author’s intentions were heavily based on self-branding through his book. Sarah Banet-Weiser discussed self-branding in her piece titled “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and Youtube.” In this case, lets imagine we are not talking about online self-branding and focus on the offline self-branding. According to Banet-Weiser, “Online self-branding utilizes the labor of consumers in re-imagining a “product” as the self.” This book not only contributes to self-branding offline, by simply throwing a book down at the table in a meeting, but it also contributes to online self-branding by allowing the author to include the title and a link to purchase the book on Amazon on his Twitter biography page.

The second reason is that Mr. McCutcheon wrote this book with a target audience that is very new to the Internet and social media use in general. It seems he wanted to provide a very compact guide for those who have little to no experience on social media. As much as I have tried to convince myself that Mr. Mc.Cutcheon wrote this book for business owners who are now trying to step out onto the social media landscape, I am still not sure his book is worthwhile to spend $10 on even if you are new to this landscape.The reason I say this is because at this present time in society, a two year old is able to access the Internet. If a man or woman is capable of starting his or her own business or smart enough to develop a product or service to provide for a specific audience, I am almost certain they are very much capable of accessing the internet by going to www.google.com and then typing in the search bar “social media for dummies.”

In Nancy Baym’s book, “Personal Connections in the Digital Age,” she describes four different social discourses of new technology. I believe Mr. McCutcheon uses the social shaping approach, the idea where there is a relationship between the user and the technology in which they both play an important role in order to get a result, in his book.  He tells the users how to sign up and properly use these mediums as well as describes the positive effects social media marketing plans can have on their businesses. While Mr.McCutcheon spends quite a bit of time listing the different platforms and explaining how to sign up for them, I must say that he also includes strategies on how to properly blog and use Twitter for your business. He also differentiates between personal use and business use as well as creating and developing well thought-out content for the right audience on the right platform. McCutcheon also discussed the importance of weak ties and latent ties, as Nancy Baym discussed in her book.  Even though Mr. McCutcheon did touch on all of these points, the fact of the matter does not change. This is easily accessible information on the Internet anyone could have gotten his or her hands on within two minutes.

One aspect of the book I found rather less pointless and more information orientated is the advice he provides on managing your online impression. McCutcheon talks quite a bit on how a user should choose his or her account name, the type of information that should be posted and the importance of interacting with your followers and friends on social media. This idea reminded me of Erving Goffman’s impression management. In ”I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience,” Marwick and Boyd said, “individuals habitually monitor how people respond to them when presenting themselves.” While McCutcheon does not place importance on authenticity in this piece, he suggests users present their businesses professionally as well as maintain their company image on social media.

While the information in this book is great for those who need help getting started on most of these social media networking sites, this is all information Google can provide from just typing in a few words and hitting the search bar. Another thing that is great about this alternative option is that it is free. Free. The entirety of my $9.99 spent on this book went down to the drain. If I could return it, I would. So, the question comes down to whether or not I would recommend this book. Well, my answer is not so clear-cut.

Yes, I would recommend this book if and only if the following reasons apply to you:

a.)   You do not have access to the Internet

b.)   You don’t know how to access a search engine and type in whatever it is that you’re looking for

c.)   You cannot read

*Note: If B and C apply to you, then you should reconsider opening your own business in this day and age.

No,  I would not recommend this book if the following applies to you:

a.) You strongly believe you have the ability to turn on your computer, open a search engine, and type in what you’re looking for.

b.) You can type in things like “How do I sign-up for Twitter” or “How do I manage my business on social media?”

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Malcom McCutcheon’s book “How to NOT Suck at Social Media”

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