Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Response: The Zen of Social Media Marketing

I wrote this book response in early October 2011 for one of my MFA Writing courses and thought I would share it here.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
Three Lessons in Social Media Marketing That I Will Apply to My Own Work


Reading The Zen of Social Media Marketing helped answer some questions I have faced on this abstract subject. Shama Kabani stated in the Introduction, “the traditional marketing rules cannot be applied to social media because social media is not a marketer’s platform.”  Therefore, I learned about a substantial methodology that addresses this conundrum for growing online business known as ACT (Attract, Convert, and Transform). I was then introduced to a simple yet effective tool that applies to all of the major social platforms: building credibility on the social web based around my own expertise. Last and most importantly, as referenced in a quote from Jack Humphrey of FridayTrafficReport.com on page 39, “you must think like a user first and a marketer second” when implementing social media marketing.

According to this book, all social media tactics should fall into at least one category of Kabani’s ACT methodology. With a distinctive online presence in place, the first objective is to attract an audience to the branded website, treating it as the online hub for all social activity. A website built around an active blog ensures fresh content is published frequently and keeps the door open to consumer engagement. The next step is to convert those website visitors to consumers and paying customers by earning their trust. This is accomplished, in part, by repeatedly demonstrating expertise to the targeted audience on a subject relevant to both their interests and the business. The final goal is to transform those successes so they will attract new successes by allowing the opportunity for repeat customers to become online brand evangelists. After it has proved successful, the ACT cycle will continue in perpetuity with new waves of potential customers on an ever-expanding scale.

The constant delivery of expert content to target audiences is a key strategic point in engaging and attracting consumers. To do this, Facebook offers both Groups and Fan Pages, which build communities around common interests, which can include businesses. Hashtags are used on Twitter as a common thread to carry conversations about specific topics that any interested person can contribute to. LinkedIn offers professional groups and an online forum specific to developing expertise, called Answers. After I read the LinkedIn Answers section of Kabani’s book, I immediately – and rather excitedly – found myself on LinkedIn.com browsing and answering several questions, offering my own expertise in the Graphic Design category and elsewhere.

Throughout the ACT process the importance of being human in social media – not endlessly selling and promoting – is huge. Kabani built the case that behind every user profile is a human being; they want to connect with and talk to other humans, not companies or person-less brand names. It is crucial for a successful outcome to treat people online with the same respect they would expect in a face-to-face meeting, especially in a time of crisis or when making a sale.

Looking forward in growing my own career, expertise building on LinkedIn Answers will become a standard routine multiple times a week. Most significantly though, I will use Kabani’s ACT methodology as the foundation for writing future social media marketing plans.

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Find this book on Amazon here.