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The Social Media Survival Guide: Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web

Originally published in Technical Communication, Vol. 59, No. 2

Deltina Hay. 2011. Fresno, CA: Linden Publishing Inc. [ISBN 978-1-884995-70-5. 456 pages, including index and companion CD. US$24.95 (softcover).]

The Social Media Survival Guide -- Review by Barbara JungwirthDeltina Hay provides a step-by-step guide to creating and implementing a social media strategy for promoting a career or a small business. The introduction includes definitions of common social media terms, such as "RSS feeds", while the initial chapters explain how to plan and prepare for an optimized social media presence. Subsequent chapters deal with a specific type of social media, such as RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites, and widget creators. The final chapters show how to update the tools automatically and how to measure the chosen strategy’s success. Appendices provide detailed instructions on installing WordPress and creating custom RSS feeds. The Social Media Survival Guide illustrates all its chapters with screen shots, while its companion CD includes additional resources and fillable forms.

While implementing a social media presence is helpful for freelance technical communicators, the tools Hay describes are geared more toward marketing to consumers rather than businesses. Her extensive explanation of the available Facebook features, for example, is more useful for authors selling their books than for technical writers marketing their skills in creating whitepapers. As a freelance technical translator, I market my services using some social media tools. The Social Media Survival Guide provided ideas on how I could better use these tools.

The forms on the companion CD require the full version of Adobe Acrobat (not Acrobat Reader) to complete online. Otherwise, you can print them out and complete by hand. The CD also includes lists of additional Web sites as PDFs, with clickable hyperlinks.

The Social Media Survival Guide is intended to be worked through in sequence, although Hay states in the introduction that the chapters can also stand alone. That is true to some extent, but the frequent references to prior chapters make it difficult to read only specific portions of the book. Few readers, however, are likely to implement every single tool covered here, so they may want to skip chapters not relevant to their particular strategy. Assuming a WordPress-powered Web site, in particular, seems not that helpful. Many small business owners probably already have a Web site and are picking up this book to build a more interactive Web presence.

The references to other sections in the book give it an interactive feel that makes me want to click links. Given the transitory nature of Web sites, the screens depicted in the illustrations will likely have changed long before the book is out of print. Both these facts suggest that the book might be more helpful as an interactive online tool rather than a static printed item. Yet, I like not having to sit at my computer to read a book. Maybe the answer would be an electronic book, with integrated links both to sections within the book and to the Web sites mentioned in the text.

Barbara Jungwirth
Barbara Jungwirth, an STC Senior Member, owns reliable translations LLC (www.reliable-translations.com) where she translates technical documents from German to English and codes for an HIV Web site. She also writes a blog, On Language and Translation (http://reliable-translations.blogspot.com) and posts updates on Twitter (@reliabletran).