Book Review: The Zen of Social Media Marketing

By Shama Hyder Kaban

The title of “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” suggests that it is a philosophical approach to social media and marketing, but it’s title is misleading. While it may be thin on philosophy and introspection, it is a decent beginners “how-to” book that teaches readers about successful online social media strategies and ways to leverage social media tools for any size business.

It provides insight into how and why social media works; how it’s used to drive traffic to your website; guidelines for using Twitter, FaceBook and Linkedin; suggests tips for how to save time and energy while implementing a social media marketing plan; and provides insights on leaders in online marketing and entrepreneurs.

The book is an easy read because it uses non technical language. It’s best suited for people who are are looking for a general idea about social media marketing and how to get started.  For those who are more advance and are already familiar with various tools and platforms, it might be a waste of time. This book didn’t take long to read and was not as detailed as I would have liked it to be.

The book was written by Shama Hyder Kaban, a young entrepreneur who started her online full-service web agency right out of grad school with very little resources.  According to her website, 100% of her client relationships were the results of online efforts.

Perhaps the most useful way to describe her book is to break it down into a simple outline with the key information from each section:

Chapter 1
Talks about Online Marketing Basics and how traditional marketing has evolved over the years–where TV, radio and print are “one way street” marketing.  Kaban compares traditional marketing to today’s tools–where the audience are more engaged and informed.  She points describes the intersection of TV and tools like FaceBook and Twitter.

One take way from this chapter is the Framework for Marketing online (ACT):
A = Attract (Get attention or stand out. Bring traffic to site)
1.  Your brand – summed up in one sentence
2.  Outcome – Sum it up in one line
3.  Simple – Help your clients make more money
4.  Differentiator- What makes you different from your competitors?

C = Convert, convert people into consumers and customers.
1.  Consumption of Valuable Content + Time = Client. The more qualified the buyer, the fewer the returns.
2.  Best conversion tool, you website. FB, Twitter, Blogs can’t act as substitutes. You don’t own your social media profiles and contact list. You can convey only so much information on your profile with social media outlets. Keep in mind, social media is not a selling tool! It is an attracting tool.

T = Transform, social proof is the theory that we are more likely to do something when we see others doing it.
1.   If your service or product doesn’t deliver, you are out of luck.
2.  Tell a story. This involves telling your customers’ story—the story of what they achieved through your service or product.

Chapter 2
Talks about websites, blogs, and Search Engine Optimiztion
It starts off with explaining why a website is important and how it’s the online equivalent of your office. People expect that your website will match their perception of your business, and that it will serve to educate, market and sell (described as “EMS Theory”). It also makes a point that blogs are websites but websites are not necessarily blogs–and describes how the functions of each can be mutually beneficial.

Chapter 3
Talks about social media marketing and why it’s a good idea. Kaban lays out three strengths of Social Media Marketing:
1. Social media sites are where the people are.
2. Trust in advertising is eroding. We trust our friends more than we trust what TV is telling us.
3. Social communities are breeding grounds for interaction.

Chapters 4-6
These chapters go in depth about the leading tools for social media marketing, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Kaban makes a compelling case for why companies should use these tools. For example, she lays out the case that Facebook has more than 500 million active users and constantly growing. She shows how to navigate through Facebook and what each part does (profile, groups, pages/fan and events). The chapters about Twitter and LinkedIn follow the same format, and will provide novice readers will a good overview of how the tools can be leveraged for connecting with the public.

Chapter 7
Kaban suggests that it is a good idea to incorporate video into your website because it is the fastest growing Social Media sector. A significant portion of what people seek online is video based content, and with the success and penetration of websites like YouTube, video has become an essential tool.

Chapter 8
Kaban makes a very strong case for Creating a Social Media Policy before getting too far along. She says that it is important to “strategize first”, and that before you create a single profile, you should map out your overall strategy. What will you use to attract? What will you use to convert? What will you use to transform? Social media marketing is a long-term strategy; be patient and you will see results.

Chapter 9
The last chapter provides a decent summary of the whole book — and continues to make the case for using social media tools to attract more business, and connect will more users. Kaban makes the obvious point that behind every Twitter name or Facebook profile is a real person. The goal is to connect with that person.


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