Book Report: “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” by Shama Hyder

Sheila Cavanagh
5 min readNov 3, 2020

Shama Hyder’s 4th edition of The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue provides a wealth of information on the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing. Hyder introduces several frameworks for strategizing and evaluating the effectiveness of your brand’s message and output, and how to attract and maintain consumers and customers. These frameworks have been proven to work at her successful global marketing and media company, Zen Media.

Hyder covers a variety of topics all centered around the ACT methodology. This framework for online marketing involves Attracting, Converting and Transforming your target audience, and it provides tactics to ACT properly through strategizing your goals and messages on each of these platforms. I’ve highlighted some important takeaways from Hyder’s ACT framework, and how to best achieve it:

Attract: get traffic to your website and stand out from others

  • Sum your brand into one word
  • In one line, sum up your brand’s outcome and what it will help clients achieve as the final result
  • Know what makes your brand different from others

Convert: go from strangers to consumers or from strangers to customers

  • Offer samples to get people looking at your content
  • Prioritize your website — it’s the most important conversion tool

Transform: help past success attract more success

  • Do a good job
  • Tell the customer story through videos, photos, audio or testimonials

Hyder reiterates the importance of your website. As stated above, it is the most important conversion tool and significant time should be put into perfecting your website. It’s expected, efficient and converts people to purchase. Because everyone who visits your website is at a different level of knowledge with your brand, it’s critical to consistently move all visitors to a level of purchasing. To do this, a website must Educate, Market and Sell (EMS) simultaneously.

Prior to social media marketing, all brands must follow this social media checklist:

  1. A good understanding of the brand, outcome, and differentiator
  2. A website that educates, markets, and sells
  3. A website with easy-to-update content
  4. An email capture mechanism

After detailing the frameworks of online marketing, Hyder emphasizes how all of these pieces — the website, search engine optimization and blogs — work together to eventually be involved in social media marketing. Social media marketing is important for leveraging the product or service you are promoting to increase sales. The key word is leverage.

Hyder spends the majority of the book addressing strategies and tactics to leverage your product or brand on the “big three” platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m certain that I will reference this section in my future career and utilize some incredibly simple, genuine, and effective ways to market across specific social media platforms. I will now discuss my key takeaways from the book and how companies can best promote their brands.

Key Takeaway #1: Many brands don’t use social media successfully because they think that people primarily want to connect with others on social media, but research shows that people actually want their own identities reflected online. Companies need to provide some sort of reflection to their target’s individual identities. What matters most is what your business says about the people you want to interact with and what the community cares about. It is critical to think about what the customers would like to say and feel about themselves. Find ways to center your brand around what the people want and what they value in addition to being part of some movement that they care about; this will create a lasting connection.

Key Takeaway #2: Facebook is an essential platform to promote one’s business. People are on there to express their identities and connect with others. The goal is to get people on the brand’s website, build trust and gain visibility. Status updates provide value when done strategically, like sharing industry news, events coming up and advice. Share content that relates specifically to the brand, not random life updates. Further than just attracting your target audience, status updates can provide press opportunities, partnerships with other professionals and show expertise.

Key Takeaway #3: Because of Facebook’s algorithm, it’s important to strategize how your information appears on your company’s timeline. Setting brand milestones, for example, appear on timelines. In addition, promoting posts allows you to get insights on how many fans you’ve reached. Finally, constantly monitoring is critical for examining both positive and negative feedback. Monthly, you should track and measure your interactions and what content had the most feedback. From there, plan and strategize the content that will be posted, and leverage it through examining interaction rates from previous months.

Key Takeaway #4: It’s crucial to take advantage of a platform like Twitter that allows you to establish dialogue with people by putting a lot of information out. Provide relevant information for different people because every post won’t receive the same amount of attention. Different from Facebook, Twitter requires you to be short and succinct across the whole platform, whether it be in your profile or in your tweets. Additionally, it’s a space for showing your brand’s personality. Although the number of followers is important, carefully managing the quality of a smaller number of followers is important when increasing your quantity of followers.

Key Takeaway #5: Influencers are important. On Twitter, influencers are people who excel at posting valuable content frequently with high quality interaction numbers. Reach out to several people or organizations that relate to your brand to interact with. This will expand your network and following. To do this, finding the right people is key. Through writing keywords, searching these keywords for users-of-interest, investigating their content and choosing the top 10 influencers, you can connect with and find new people to follow.

Key Takeaway #6: LinkedIn is incredibly important for professionals. She highlights four segments for a credible, impactful LinkedIn: establishing a strong profile, managing your connections and contacts, using the personalized Pulse daily news app and joining LinkedIn groups.

Key Takeaway #7: Hyder has found that a combination of organic and paid advertising is most effective. Facebook provides various tools for advertising strategy. Facebook Ads Manager and Facebook Power Editor allows you to target specific audiences and manage your ad campaigns. These tools allow you to better understand the specifics about your audience and give you the ability to retarget audiences after you’ve launched the campaign. Instagram ads work the same way.

Key Takeaway #8: For all of this to work, measuring your efforts is key. A few ways to measure these efforts are by looking at how much money you are making, and analyzing website visits, the sales cycle and conversion rates.

I highly recommend Shama Hyder’s book to anyone going into the marketing or communications profession. It provides a ton of detailed information that will truly help me in my future. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you ACT.