“A while back, I realized the main reason people are struggling with social marketing: they zen_social_media_marketingare going against the natural order of things,” Shama Kabani writes in the introduction to her 2013 edition of “The Zen of Social Media Marketing.” She explains the problem is that “the traditional marketing rules cannot be applied” – social media is not a “marketer’s platform,” but a consumer’s. So how then can a marketer best utilize social media for his or her own marketing devices?

Kabani cautions against the “square peg” model of trying to disseminate a one-dimensional marketing message via social media. While these tactics may have worked for print newspaper or magazine articles in ye olde advertising past, they aren’t fit for the real-time posting, networking and re-posting environment of the internet.

Instead, Kabani describes the internet as a platform defined by “multiple online mediums” and dominated by mega networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.  On these sites, consumers rule the conservations, content posting and reposting. They subdivide into groups by the colleges they attended and employers that they work for, and they choose to “follow” content that meets their interests.

To make this model work for marketers, Kabani breaks down best practices into three categories: attract, convert, and transform, or ACT. No matter what your product, she stresses that need to first attract viewers to your website, convert potential shoppers to customers, and transform, or repeat this cycle into you have gathered a regular traffic to your site. Whether your product is intellectual property or a physical good, Kabani argues that the same rules apply.  Social media elements like comment features, ratings and reposting options all play into the ACT cycle.

After these basic rules, Kabani provides specific implementation tips for achieving ACT on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, in addition to the company’s home page.  Most important is to recognize how your page reflects your brand, Kabani writes.  Customers want to “follow” and link to websites that reflect their interests and identities, not a generic label for a product that they use.  She emphasizes the need for companies to post about new ideas or initiatives that their company is pursuing instead of focusing on the technical details of their production process.

Kabani’s book is a quick, light read.  Many of her findings are not terribly surprising, but they are well fleshed out and formatted in easily digestible short paragraphs and bullet points.  Although the book’s target audience is marketers, consumers and potential website designers can benefit from its rules about best practices.  There is not much technical data about programming, but enough to get the layman started!

"The Zen of Social Media Marketing" by Shama Kabani, BenBella Books, Inc. Dallas, Texas. Copyright 2013.