“How to NOT suck at Social Media” Book Review

In Malcolm McCutcheon’s How to NOT Suck at Social media, he covers what he considers the basics in using social media to promote, develop and create business for your brand. The overall structure of the book consists of four goals to abide by (Don’t suck, Engage with customers, Build a tribe and Network), a step by step guide of how to touch your finger to your nose… I mean… set up a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (along with various other social media platforms) account and finishes with giving us five key tactics in making your social media account, the “cool kid.” In essence he sums this entire book by telling us point blank: Don’t Suck.

Reading this book that overcharged us more or less by about $9, helped me realize a few things. For one, our generation is filled with geniuses within themselves. There was no manual for us to learn how to use social media or on how to understand it’s social cues (in both self branding and branding a business) and yet somehow we have miraculously caught on. Secondly, this book makes me question what is next. In forty years will I be buying a book on Amazon that is teaching me how to conduct myself when dealing with the new craze? Or will our generation be able to adjust, learn and take hold of the new developments to come?

As you have probably read for the 1 millionth time, this book is not targeted for our generation. It is for our parents and people who did not grow up in a world where Instagraming and Tweeting is in your blood. But even in this book, there were some key points that further helped advance our class discussion and reading. Two of the most predominant were social ties and self-branding.

For one, the social ties we have on the Internet further help develop our brand as well as strengthen our credibility. Nancy Baym introduces us to this term and explains to us the importance off all three types of ties. As our group (#stiz) discussed, your new consumers are predominantly going to be weak and latent ties for you friends and family (predominantly strong ties) will probably know about your company from the beginning. These weak ties can help further your brand by doing something as simple as “liking” your page on Facebook, commenting on a post or giving you a good rating on Yelp. McCutcheon hones in on the fact that you need to treat your customers as if they are your friends, so that they want to promote whatever you are selling. Because if someone realized they are just being marketed too, chances are they will not pay attention any longer.

In Sarah Banet-Weiser’s Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girls’ Video Production and YouTube we learn about the importance of self-branding. Like McCutcheon’s “cool kid” theory, Banet-Weiser tells us that we want to make ourselves “likeable” to gain attention from the desired audience. This is essential in creating your brand. Courtney (@cyan539) also helped me in furthering my idea when bringing up the point in her notes that no matter what “customers will write their opinions on your company on social media.” So to defend yourself and your brand, even if the feedback you get is positive, you want to make an image for yourself on each social media platform where you can describe to your audience who you are and what you have to offer.

On the flip side, there were a few reasons that I would rather listen to Carly Rae Jepsens (who I should add has almost 1 million followers) Call me Maybe repeatedly in a basement by myself than read this book again. For one, the language and choice of words that are used throughout the book. I understand that this book is speaking to novices but when creating a set of goals and two of them are “Don’t suck” and “Network” its hard to grapes essentially what we are learning besides the common sense fact. McCutcheon also contradicts himself in two of the five strategies. The first strategy states “Separate you, the person from you, the business/blogger” where he tells readers to detach their personal life social media from that of their business. Then, in strategy four, which he titles “Share just a little bit of you, the person”, he acknowledges that he contradicts himself in saying “this tactic may seem a bit confusing given that tactic #1 clearly stated that you should separate you, the person from you, the business” but then continues without giving a concrete explanation of why other than saying things like users “need to get to know you as more than a faceless business” and finishes by saying “Use your best judgment”.

The last thing that caught my eye when questioning the overall integrity of this book was brought up in Jasmine (@jazzyook) and Chelsea’s (ChelseaW11) notes. They both pointed out the lack of amount of followers that McCutcheon has on each social media platform. On his professional twitter (@thatsbossa) he has 249 followers (his personal, @malcommc, having 182 followers), Instagram he has 83 followers, on Facebook he has 285 likes and the link given in the book to his Linkedin account is incorrect. Some may still say these are not horrible numbers and although that may be true, would you want a doctor performing heart surgery on you that has done it 5 times before or one that has done it 500 times? It essentially is up to the viewer (or the one getting the heart surgery). But with age comes experience and with followers comes the knowledge how to gain those followers and then understand how to keep them in your circle and engaged in what you or your business is doing.

All in all, for a person over the age of 50 that has no kids, has never been on the Internet, watched TV or heard of social media, this is a great book to get them started on how to conduct their business online. The reality of today (and what McCutcheon pointed out in his section on Yelp) is that even if you do not want to be on social media, you business will be, so, you need to start learning how to use these platforms to further promote your company.

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