30 DAYS TO SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS

Gail Martin’s book, 30 Days to Social Media Success, aids those unfamiliar with social media technology in their quest to create a successful online marketing and advertising platform. It is mostly geared towards small business owners who want to take the step into social networking and gives a very general outline of how they can do so quickly and effectively: Martin provides instructions on how to create a Facebook page and other various simple steps towards a social media savvy existence. The book seems very outdated and geared towards people who know almost nothing about social media (which today, is very uncommon). Martin provides some productive advice and guidance but for the most part does not effectively cultivate a good understand of social media in regards to business strategy.

Throughout her book, Martin sticks to the acronym RESULTS: Recommit, Expect success, Seek partners, Understand your audience, Look for win-win scenarios, Take strategic action, and Stay visible. She encourages her readers to harness the power of social media sites by taking advantage of its results and casting a wide net by meeting new people and reconnecting with old colleagues and friends.  One thing Martin is sure to emphasize is the importance of having and maintaining a true voice and real story to create authenticity. This ties into Liu’s theory about taste preferences and social media—Martin is supporting the authenticity taste preference as the most influential.

For a very uninformed or inexperienced person, this book might seem extremely useful, but it is most likely very few people would get much out of Martin’s advice. One of Martin’s suggestions is to allocate a thirty minute segment to social media each day in order to use it effectively and to its full potential. It is very important for a business trying to market themselves with social media to be extremely active, but thirty minutes a day is hardly enough. Businesses who want to reach out to their clients and partners should use their social media regularly throughout the day to respond to questions and concerns and to update their audience with the latest news. Another lacking feature of Martin’s book in personal anecdotes or examples of successful social media marketing. For an audience that knows so little about Facebook and Twitter, example and/or pictures would probably be extremely beneficial.

Another major flaw in Martin’s writing is her lack of distinction between different social networking sites. She kind of treats each site the same and making few distinctions between them all. In actuality, Linkedn is extremely different than Twitter and should be handled very differently, especially for any type of business. Specifically, sites like Twitter and Facebook should be monitored and updated on a very regular basis while sites like Linkedn do not need as much attention. Each site also has a different target audience. Linkedn is for older professionals while Twitter is geared towards a younger, hip crowd.

What Martin really fails to address is how to handle social media marketing after her suggested thirty days. Longevity with social media is very important especially since so much advertising and marketing depends on the capabilities of social networks today. Her readers are left wondering what do to with their Facebooks and Twitter after a short month. It would have been beneficial for Martin to include some suggestions on how to maintain a strong, enduring presence and how to cope with upcoming changes and developments in social media.

Gail Martin provides a good introduction to social media marketing and use for small businesses, but it is very general and limited. She fails to address many important issues and strategies when utilizing social media sites and leaves her reader with a far too basic understanding of social networks. Her words might have been more effective if she only discussed one or two specific sites in depth, had included specific examples and personal anecdotes, and gotten a younger person’s perspective on the world of social media.

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MODERN MEDIA

In the most recent episode of Modern Family, the writers examine the socially mediated relationship between parents and their children. Claire, the matriarch, is a new Facebook user who wants to add her two daughters, Alex and Haley, as friends. The girls are reluctant and actively ignore their mother’s requests. They eventually acquiesce, making Claire very happy. Claire’s happiness quickly disappears when she discovers that an old college friend has tagged a picture of her from a college spring break trip in which she is wearing a bikini and drinking booze. This episode deals with several concepts outlined by Danah Boyd in her article “Why Youth ❤ Social Network Sites.”

Although her article deals exclusively with MySpace, the similarities between MySpace and Facebook help maintain the article’s relevance. Boyd says that many teens begin participating in social network sites “because of the available social voyeurism and the opportunity to craft a personal representation in an increasingly popular online community.” “Teens join MySpace [or Facebook] to maintain connections with their friends,” to build identities, and to manage the impression they make on others. Social Network Sites have become communities with their own rules and cues, and “the process of learning to read social cues and react accordingly is core to being socialized into a society.”

Facebook is a community that makes young people feel closer to people they know offline. It is a sort of community or society where youth are independent and have control over image, relationships, etc. Parents are trying to tap into this in order to understand and grow closer to their children but there is a definite generational divide. Most of them are not tech savvy enough to completely understand how Facebook functions, but their lack of experience also diminishes their ability to understand the necessary social cues to exist in the social media world. Claire is clearly trying to be the cool mom who befriends her daughters on Facebook in order to grow closer to them and understand their world. The girls are reluctant for several obvious reasons, and one is that their mom might misinterpret social cues and write embarrassing posts or be overly active on her daughters’ profiles. Another reason Alex and Haley don’t want their mother to friend them on Facebook is because it is an invasion of privacy. Their online lives are separate from their lives at home and they want to maintain this distance. Boyd discusses different definitions of public and private, and these girls want their profiles to be public to their friends but private from their parents. A parent’s intrusion on Facebook book is akin to a parent trying to “hang out” at the mall with their child and his/her friends.

Many parents also join Facebook for the same reason their children do—to be a part of a community where they can connect with offline friends and distant encounters. They have the same desires to create an identity and maintain an online image. Their voyeuristic tendencies are not much different from their children’s.

Modern Family frames social media as a kid’s world that parents do not understand and cannot easily use. This is evinced by the girls reluctance to friend their mother and Claire’s ignorance about the photo tagging feature. The show ignores the idea of adults using social media in the same way as kids.

Social Media Crossed Lovers

In the article “’It’s complicated’: Handling social media when your relationship implodes,” Sarah LeTrent of CNN discusses the complex issue of online and offline breakups (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-07/living/living_social-media-relationship_1_relationship-status-social-media-active-facebook-users/2?_s=PM:LIVING). In our society today, becoming “Facebook official” is often more serious and meaningful than a first kiss or verbally establishing a relationship. Because of the digitalization of relationships on sites like Facebook and Twitter, when a breakup occurs it is much more public than in the past. A simple change of status can inundate a Facebook page with messages of support, anger, etc. that make the breakup undeniable. One woman, Chayra, broke up with her boyfriend but immediately deleted the status update in order to avoid the dramatic aftermath. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, launched a virtual tirade against her.  The need for external validation and admiration is one of the main causes of excessive public sharing of personal information. Jason Krafsky, the author of Facebook and Your Marriage advises couples going through a break up to unfriend of block the ex; “by removing them from your Facebook life, this allows the necessary emotional healing to occur.” “If you trust your partner offline, you should as well online.”

In “Friends, Friendsters, and Myspace Top 8” Danah Boyd (http://www.danah.org/) writes: “the architecture of unmediated social spaces, these sites introduce an environment that is quite unlike that with which we are accustomed. Persistence, search-ability, replicability and invisible audiences are all properties that participants must negotiate.” This statement ties is nicely with what the CNN article has to say. Social media is a somewhat new space that does not have the same social cues and rules as the “real world.” Participants of Facebook, in this case those who are in relationships, must negotiate the space and figure out the best way to deal with the public display of their personal lives. Both LeTrent and Boyd discuss social media sites as distinct, different environments that must be managed with care in order for their users to properly function within their digital realms.

In “Personal Connections in the Digital Age” Nancy Baym (http://people.ku.edu/~nbaym/) writes: “Just as critics cautioned that digital communities would replace locally grounded communities, the internet and mobile media raise fears that digital media lead us to substitute shallow empty relationships for authentic personal connections. Instead of being present with those who share our physical environments, we may become separated, isolated, and never more than partially anywhere.” Like LeTrent and Boyd, Baym assigns a significant amount of power to social media technologies. They all suggest that sites like Facebook have control over our lives and govern the authenticity and emotional impact of our relationships.

Although Sarah LeTrent’s article is insightful and informational, it seems to ignore the importance and influence of offline, “real” relationships.  Defriending or blocking an ex on a social media site may help ease the pain of a breakup, but that does not mean they do not exist in the individuals offline world. They are still a real person and, assuming the exes live in similar areas of the world, the chance of them running into each other on the street or at a party is substantial. Yes, Facebook does make everything much more public and difficult to deal with (I know from personal stalking experience), but removing an individual from your digitally is only one step of a process, not the end all be all. I also believe there is more overlapping in online and offline life than LeTrent allows. She says, “if you trust your partner offline you should as well online.” Is trust different on and offline? What exactly does she mean by this? If you trust your partner then you trust your partner, it is still the same person. Individuals can present themselves a certain way online, but if you are in an offline relationship with someone, you hopefully know them better than a random online friend. I think LeTrent should have presented Facebook as a powerful social media tool, but recognized the importance of offline life as well.

LIFE ONLINE

Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison and Dr. David Beer present different views about the history and development of Social Network(ing) Sites. Boyd and Ellison differentiate between social networking sites and social network sites. They define social network sites as web based services that allow individuals to construct a profile, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view yours and others networks. Social networking sites are different because they do not have sustainable, displayed networks between individual users. The public display of connections is very crucial to Boyd and Ellison’s definition. They believe these social network sites reinforce preexisting “offline” social ties and that these two types of relationships are mostly separate from each other.

Beer disagrees with Boyd and Ellison; he believes that the “social network site” is not the most useful framing because it does not delineate what people are really using the sites for. He believes it is too broad of a category that groups together extremely different sites with very different functions. Beer also opposes Boyd and Ellison’s distinction between physical and online life because the two are one in the same, reflections of the other. He thinks that instead of asking how people are using social media we should ask what people’s posts are saying about society. There needs to be a critique that challenges social media.

One aspect of Boyd and Ellison’s argument that should be challenged is their focus on the importance of the public display of social connections. Although the network between friends is imperative to the existence of social network sites, its display is not necessarily that effective. For instance, on Facebook one has the ability to hide their list of friends but they still function as a part of that network. The workings of their page do not change at all and it is still very much a social network site. Beer’s critique of the “social network site” term itself should be examined as well. He believes it is too broad and gives little information about the actual sites it includes. Sites like Tumblr, where the friend list is still displayed publicly, maintain a network, but a very different type of network than Facebook or Twitter. On Twitter and Facebook, you mostly follow or friend people you know or people you know of, but on Tumblr, there is a strong sense of anonymity. Its users follow Tumblrs containing content that correlates with their own interests and desires, regardless of the identity of its owner. Yes, friends follow each other’s Tumblrs, but that is not the main function of the site. According to Boyd and Ellison, Tumblr is considered a social network site, but its network is unlike the networks of many other sites in their category.

Something all three of these authors encourage is research on social media, its effects, its users, etc. Boyd and Ellison focus more on the individual’s use of media while Beer focuses on what the individual’s posts say about society as a whole. Scholars should study all aspects of social media and not focus on one angle. The New York Times published an article about social media claiming “we should not view social media as either positive of negative, but as essentially neutral… it’s what we do with the tools that decides how they affect us and those around us.” A man named Dr. Moreno studied how adolescents use social media and how it affects their development and physical and mental health. He came to the conclusion that although there are risks and dangers surrounding the increased presence of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, these outlets are becoming increasingly important in adolescent development. Instead of trying to protect teens and children from these harsh media sites, Dr. Moreno believes they should be educated to defend themselves and use technology wisely. His research, in my opinion, is extremely valuable. He examines the uses of social network sites as well as their affects. He presents a critique but also provides constructive and informational research. Moreno’s research aligns with Boyd and Ellison’s article because it is a study of individual users and with Beer’s because it finds commonality between physical and online life.

NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/health/views/seeing-social-media-as-adolescent-portal-more-than-pitfall.html?_r=1