Media Book Review: The Social Media Industries, edited by Alan B. Albarran

EILIDH MARSHALL reviews The Social Media Industries, edited by Alan B. Albarran…

THINK you know all there is to know about social media?

Well, think again, as this book is just the first chapter in an ever-evolving industry; chock-full of information and statistics on an array of social media sites and how we use them.

Professor and chair of Radio, Television and Film at the University of North Texas, Alan B. Albarran edits the book. With the management and economics of the communication industries being at the core of his teaching and research efforts, he is well-equipped to comment on the many aspects of social media.

The book starts by providing details of the history of the main social networking sites so even someone who’s never ‘liked’ a post or hash-tagged a tweet soon finds out the ins and outs of each.

Perhaps too much of an introduction, I personally wanted to ‘cut to the chase’ a bit quicker. Once there, the main topics cover the use of social media for business, marketing and entertainment, ethical issues and the different uses of social media by a range of ethnicities.

The business aspect of the book covers sites such as LinkedIn and looks at how Facebook and Twitter can be a powerful tool in the marketing of a company. Of course, it talks about how social media sites make their money through advertising and commerce, but it also discusses the ways businesses grow by using the sites – from simply providing content and starting conversations, to viral marketing.

Many useful examples are discussed to showcase the array of activities that can be utilised. Leading from that is the entertainment aspect of social media, it provides a balanced discussion of the pros and cons – highlighting ‘trolls’, stalking, ‘cyberbullying’ and even the narcissism and self-promotion displayed by a number of social media users.

However, a large amount of the book is used to discuss the cultural and age differences of social media users – with entire chapters dedicated to the ‘uses and gratifications of Facebook members 35 years and older’ and ‘social media and young Latinos’.

It provides interesting studies of the differences in social media use between Asian Americans, African Americans and Caucasians. It was interesting to read of the alternative social media sites available in Asia, such as QQ, the world’s largest social media site, with about 75 million more users than Facebook in 2011.

As admitted in the final chapter, you will probably be left with more questions about the social media industries than when you started. Social media is already vast and this book provides interesting insights into parts of it. It certainly provides early-stage research into the social media industries – acting as a baseline for future developments and investigation, even pinpointing the areas for further study.

Anyone reading The Social Media Industries will surely be left with an urge to log onto Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube…

Happy hash-tagging!

Title: The Social Media Industries

Edited by: Alan B. Albarran

Publisher: Routledge

Date of publication: March 2013

Price: £24.99

ISBN number: 978-0-415-52319-6

Buy it here.

Eilidh Marshall is a trainee PR and digital account executive at Muckle Media.