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Book Report: Secrets of Social Media Marketing

In the book “Secrets of Social Media Marketing: How to Use Online Conversations and Customer Communities to Turbo-Charge Your Business!" Paul Gillin defines social media as a set of tools which can be used as catalysts to accomplish business goals. Gillin is a technology journalist with 15 years of traditional media experience and more than a decade of online social media focus. He in this book offers the readers a clear shortcut to learn about using online social media and customer communities to boost their businesses. This book contains a number of secrets of social media marketing, which are put on the pages as side notes. Most of the secrets could be quite helpful to readers who are novice to the domain of social media marketing. Here are some samples of the secrets:

-“Start with the business goal, not the tools.” (p.22)

-“When searching, think like the customer.” (P.46)

-“Blogs are flexible, use them with photos, audio, and video.” (p.72)

-“A safe approach to blogging is to answer frequently asked customer questions.”(p.77)

-“The most popular social networks in overseas markets are almost unknown in the U.S. (p.101)

-“Engage, don’t sell.” (p.186)

Each chapter of the book examines a different stage through the social media campaign process. At the very beginning stages, (the author suggests that) it’s important to think about the arguments and tools of persuasion. Gillin suggests that “word-of-mouth marketing can spread a message more quickly and convincingly than conventional advertising.” (p.3) Not wanting to convince the readers to abandon traditional marketing, Gillin also points out that traditional media are becoming less important than before, since the gatekeepers of online marketing have changed; every ordinary person who has access to the internet could have the power to publish their ideas to the world.

 In order to apply social media as a great tool for business scenarios, we need to be familiar with their characteristics. One of the characteristics listed by Gillin is directness. “Social media is all about sharing opinions…these opinions are often direct and unfiltered.” (p.5) Several examples have been listed, including AT&T, Dell, and Comcast, to demonstrate how to overcome the main objections of social media adoption. In short, Gillin (also) thinks that companies and businesses should act quickly to stop the spread of negativity online. In addition, they should try to admit fallibility, promise to improve and really listen to their customers carefully.

When the campaign is ready to be launched, it’s time to think about the business goal, as the author states. The book emphasizes that “a surprisingly large number of companies launch social media campaigns without any clear strategic goal.” (p.21) and points out that this is very wrong. The right thing to do is to start with business goal first, and then apply social media tools. And this is because many media tools could be used for a lot of different purposes while some strategic goals require leveraging different tools together. Gillin makes a chart to more explicitly show the readers a way to look at the tool selection issue. Business objectives are in the left column, while different social media tools are in the first roll. According to the chart, many tools can be used for multiple business goals. The most obvious one is blog, which is suitable for all the business goals listed in the chart. But some other tools, such as social network and customer review engine, are relatively less flexible.

The book also talks about how to engage with online influencers, how to apply blogs to make them work, how social network phenomena become popular and so on. One of the most intriguing parts (for me) is about how to create content that is useful and engaging to customers. And the author claims that the first thing to do is to stop pitching. “The new style of marketing is about engagement, … it means forming a relationship with a prospect through the exchange of useful, meaningful information.” (p.186) The traditional marketing assumptions about advertising such as trying to sell hard to get the customers’ attention should be rejected. When we communicate with people, there are good conversations and bad ones. Good conversations require both parties to contribute. We are usually not willing to talk to people who only want to talk about themselves. However, this is what many of the traditional marketing principles tell us to do. To engage the audience, we need to put ourselves into the customers’ shoes.

Generally speaking, “Secrets of Social Media Marketing” is a helpful book for readers who are at their initial stage to dabble in the domain of social media marketing. (In my point of view), as social media become growingly important in marketing, practical strategies and advices offered in this book should be much valued.




Flickr / Photo by Blogtrepreneur.