“The Zen of Social Media Marketing” Book Review

In Shama Hyder Kabani’s The Zen of Social Media Marketing, she examines and breaks down four of the most well-known social media sites. The purpose of the book is to “build credibility, generate buzz, and increase revenue”. The book is well structured, and covers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Social Advertising (Groupon, LivingSocial, Facebook Ads), and video online. Each section has a chapter devoted to it, and each social media site has a detailed description of how to set up an account, navigate your account, and utilize it in the best way possible for your personal brand or product/company.

The book begins with a short lesson on online marketing basics. Recalling traditional marketing concepts, we learn how marketing has evolved through the use of social media and how successful online marketing is now based on the ACT methodology: Attract, Convert, and Transform. Kabani then discusses the basics of websites, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO), providing a need to know understanding for the reader before they delve into the actual use of social media to market. Through the four chapters on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +, we can get a feel for who the book’s target audience is. Each chapter gives an in depth description of what the site is, how it works, and why you should be using it to market your product. Most importantly, Kabani tries to deal with proper “etiquette” for each of the four sites, and what you should/ should not being doing to build up your base of followers (and ultimately customers).   She then finishes her book with “Social Media Marketing Case Studies: Highlighting Real-World Best Practices” (203). Each case study is a firsthand account of how various people have utilized social media marketing to increase value in their particular brand.

Benefits of book:

–       very comprehensive breakdown of technical aspect of each social media site

–       Case studies at the end can provide more real-world examples of all the concepts talked about in the book, and they can help readers see how these social media work in reality


What book is missing:

–       Shama doesn’t do a good job of explaining the user culture, and how to exploit that

–       No sources for random statistics. Example: “Did you know that the average annualized value of a Facebook fan is $136.38?” (69). Where does that number come from? There are no sources to back it up.

–       I have a problem with using Google+, because while she talks about how it provides great visibility “for you and your brand identity”, I literally don’t know anyone that uses it. Just because Google has been successful with many of its endeavors, does not mean that Google+ is one of them.


Book analysis:

–       A majority of this book is simply about how these social media work, and how to use them and modify them to your needs, but its doesn’t talk a lot about the user culture and demographics, and a lot of other factors that shape the way social media actually works besides the basic technological level

–       This book is for social media beginners, people that could be familiar with tradition outbound marketing, but now need to utilize social media and inbound marketing to draw in more potential customers and clients

–       For college students or young adults who are already extremely well versed in the practices of social media and how to create an image of yourself (even if its subconscious knowledge), a majority of this book is not super relevant. There are, however, some good basic strategy tools about marketing on the internet that can be helpful to people that aren’t already familiar with marketing strategy

–       Book seems to be very self promotional, and would be best used by small businesses, and doesn’t work for large corporations

–       Social media for dummies

Leave a comment


  1. Professor Portwood-Stacer – thank you for the feedback! I’ll keep it in mind for the next edition.

    • lauraportwoodstacer

       /  April 26, 2012

      This post was actually written by one of my students! Several of them chose to read your book for an assignment – they will be all posting rough drafts of their book reviews to this blog, so you may be seeing a few more pings in the next few days!


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