17 Social Media Books That Will Make You a Smarter Marketer
Wondering what books your peers are raving about?
Look no further.
We asked our authors to share the social media marketing books they’ve recently enjoyed reading–ones with useful relevant takeaways.
In this article, you’ll discover 17 books to help you improve your social media marketing recommended by social media pros.
#1: Your Customer Creation Equation
I love Brian Massey’s Your Customer Creation Equation. It’s a concise, clear-sighted overview of visitors and actions. It explains the how and why of conversions and measurement. And it’s all done in simple terms with relevant examples.
Brian also covers social media, but in the context of conversion. He reminds us that conversion does not necessarily lead to action. So he encourages us to take a practical approach to social media by focusing either on conversation or content, depending on our business. Smart!
There are different types of websites with different types of visitors. Each type has its own “formula.” You need to first understand what type of site you have before you start work in the “laboratory.”
The key to optimizing your conversion rate is experimentation. Noticing a theme? Brian even calls himself a “Conversion Scientist.” He’s clearly a strong advocate of testing.
Andy Crestodina, principal, strategic director at Orbit Media.
#2: Epic Content Marketing
We talk a lot about producing content, but are we producing the right type of content, targeted at the right audience, delivered in the right format that accomplishes our business goals?
Joe Pulizzi’s book, Epic Content Marketing, is essential reading if you’re a content marketer. It takes you through all of the necessary phases of producing a content marketing strategy. Without a clear content marketing strategy, you’ll end up producing content for the sake of content and it won’t achieve your business goals.
“Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” – Joe Pulizzi
One of my key takeaways from this book is the importance of a content segmentation grid. This is a combination of the stages of your sales process and the content required at each stage.
As Joe says, it’s not a case of just producing content as a ‘spray and pray’ approach similar to advertising. You need to produce content that is relevant for each stage of the buying cycle.
Ian Cleary, founder of RazorSocial.
Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi does an incredible job of helping entrepreneurs define their content niche.
I believe not having a defined content niche is what derails most entrepreneurial efforts. With this book, I was able to define EntrepreneurOnFire’s niche in a powerful way.
John Lee Dumas, founder and host of EntrepreneurOnFire.
#3: Spreadable Media
Spreadable Media, by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green, is a must-read for any marketer who has been tasked with creating ‘viral’ content. Henry Jenkins, known as the father of Transmedia Storytelling, and the other authors do an amazing job of breaking down the fallacies surrounding the concept of ‘virality,’ and instead offer up the concept of ‘spreadability.’
The book is a refreshing bird’s-eye view of how to make content that connects with your audience. Instead of viewing audience members as passive consumers of content, Spreadable Media suggests that the audience plays an active role in the distribution and meaning of your content.
This might make some marketing managers uncomfortable, but the authors lay out strong evidence that passive consumers are a thing of the past. The companies that connect with the audience and empower them to improve and reuse content are the companies that are cutting through the noise.
They also delve into tactics, including information and how new technology can contribute to ‘spreadability.’ They outline several factors including content availability, portability, reusability and relevance that help create the foundation for spreadable content.
Lisa Peyton, leader in the field of digital marketing and editor at ThoroughlyModernMarketing.com.
#4: Ignore Everybody
Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod isn’t necessarily a book about social media, but I found it to be incredibly relevant. The author offers 39 Keys to Creativity that changed the way I think about social media marketing overall.
The one takeaway that resonated with me the most is MacLeod’s advice for nurturing ideas. He says, “Your idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.”
This type of thinking has helped me to bring ideas and campaigns to life in social that I would have otherwise dismissed.
By focusing on my original ideas instead of the “next big thing,” I was able try lots of new things with an entirely different approach. After all, social media marketing is really all about trial and error. Along with more ideas come more chances for success.
Jason Miller, senior manager, content and social @LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.
#5: Digital Leader
If you’re looking for a book that provides tips on getting more Facebook likes or Twitter followers, then Digital Leader by Erik Qualman might not be for you. But if you’re looking for a book to show you how to be a leader in the digital era, then I can’t recommend it enough.
Qualman kicks things off with his take on the issue of transparency and walks the reader through why this trend is not only important, but also meaningful.
He then talks about the five key habits of the digital leader, which form the acronym STAMP. They are Simple (narrowing things down to their essence), True (remaining true to your passion), Act (nothing happens without action), Map (setting goals and creating a vision) and People (success doesn’t happen alone).
There are a lot of terrific books about social media available today and most of them focus on the tactical side of the equation. But if you’re looking for an inspirational book that provides a high-level perspective on how to lead, then Digital Leader is the book you’re looking for.
Jamie Turner, founder of the 60 Second Marketer.
My favorite social media book from the last six months is Erik Qualman’s Digital Leader.
My biggest takeaway from Qualman’s STAMP system is that although we live in a digital world and we’re connected 24/7, “people” are very much part of the success equation. As online marketers, it’s easy to feel isolated and assume that our social media networks are the end all–be all.
As Qualman suggests, people are part of our success factor because success doesn’t happen alone. That’s why networking is still an important strategy that only supports our social media efforts, as it brings new people to our tribe!
Krizia de Verdier helps businesses attract high-quality clients by optimizing their online branding marketing strategies.
#6: The Noob Guide to Online Marketing
My favorite social media book I’ve reread in the last six months is The Noob Guide to Online Marketing, written by Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce.
The book is very practical, with 50 manageable items written into a step-by-step 24-week actionable plan.
My best takeaway: Successful social media marketing takes time and effort. You need to strategize your social media marketing, and plan to work on it daily.
That is: define yourself, brand yourself on your social sites and then continually engage with tactics like running interactive contests, monitoring all of your social sites and taking real action on customer feedback.
And oh yes—the cost of the book? A tweet.
Krista Bunskoek, content marketer at Wishpond.
#7: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
My favorite social media book is Platform, by Michael Hyatt.
Platform is a “Step-By-Step Guide for Anyone With Something to Say or Sell” (the tagline of the book). In Platform, Hyatt maps out a detailed process to build a powerful and personalized online platform in the digital age.
His advice and guidance is relevant for business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, freelancers, speakers and authors.
What I really enjoyed about Platform is that the guidance is comprehensive. There is no stone unturned in terms of the who, what, when, where, how and why when it comes to building a successful online platform. Hyatt allows you to see the big picture and how all the pieces should work together.
With so much information available and so many digital tools to choose from, Hyatt gives methodical, straightforward guidance for building and growing your own platform. He also helps you set proper expectations for your digital marketing efforts with guidance on how to truly measure your success.
Platform is one of those books I’ve read multiple times and have more highlights and sticky notes in my printed copy than any other book I’ve read in a long time!
Stephanie Sammons, founder of Build Online Influence.
One social media book I’ve been going back to again and again recently is Michael Hyatt’s Platform. I first read it over six months ago, but it’s a great, simple guide to social media promotion for people fairly new to it, with plenty of handy tips for old-timers too. It’s a book I’ve recommended to others, particularly authors, a fair few times now.
My best takeaway is the title of Chapter 32, “Forget About Metrics (for Now).” It’s very easy to get discouraged by other people’s huge Twitter following, Facebook fans, etc… but a small, loyal following is often much more valuable than a large, unengaged one, plus everyone starts out at zero!
#8: Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
I do not necessarily read too many “social media” books but I do read a lot in general, as I find inspiration for what I do on my blog and in social media by reading a wide range of topics.
The best book I’ve read recently that can be considered a “social media” book is Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday.
I’ve two takeaways. One is as a media consumer. Not that I didn’t know this before, but it’s all about questioning things a bit more and not trusting everything I hear or read online, even though things come from what can be seen as traditional or trusted sources.
The second takeaway is from the perspective of a content producer. It’s not really to manipulate the media to promote the content as such. Instead be proactive, reach out to people, tell great stories and work as hard on getting the word out about your content as you’re working on creating the content. Without this promotional effort, not many people will see your content.
Marko Saric, founder of How to Make My Blog.
#9: Contagious: Why Things Catch On
My book choice stands out a mile to me. It’s Contagious by Jonah Berger, a professor at Wharton and fellow LinkedIn influencer.
Whilst it is broader than social media, it gives great insight into why things spread, how to create triggers so people think of your product or service when they see or hear something else and what the magic ingredients are to getting something shared en masse.
We know that creating emotion is key, that the funniest videos get shared, but Berger delves deeper than that into what the real essence of the emotion is, and that’s arousal.
Now before you think you have to create risqué content, he simply refers to creating content that raises the blood pressure and increases the pulse—extremely funny, awe-inspiring, motivational, but hardly ever sadness. Think of all of the great videos that have ever been shared. They all have the arousal factor, even “Gangnam Style.”
Interesting that if you read the electronic version and have highlights turned on, you can see the bits that others have underlined and found useful, encouraging you to make notes as you go. Berger also gives you access to a comprehensive workbook and more notes via his website. How would I rate this book? 10/10.
Here’s a video of Johah talking about “Why Things Catch On”.
Linda Coles of Blue Banana is a sought-after speaker and LinkedIn Influencer.
The best book I’ve read recently is Contagious by Jonah Berger.
There’s a framework that you can use to increase the chances that your product or services go viral.
One is the use of social currency. We want to share things that make us look good. Whether that is an interesting article or the products we use.
Jonah Berger has a great story of a recent tactic that LinkedIn used. The social network sent email notifications to users whose profiles were among the top 1% most viewed in 2012.
Within the email, users could easily share this accomplishment on social media. This tactic led to thousands of shares on social media, even though being in the top 1% meant you were one of 2 million people.
Here’s a 3-minute video of Jonah talking about social currency.
Steve Young, director of marketing for SmartShoot.
Word of mouth is the top way to gain consumer trust. Recent Nielsen research revealed that 84% of consumers trust information from people they know. Want to learn how to accomplish this viral word of mouth? Then read Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On. It’s a well-written book chock-full of examples illustrating how to make your business a word-of-mouth darling.
Based on solid research, Berger breaks down what a marketer has to do in his 6 STEPPS model. It stands for Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value and Stories.
Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
#10: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
There are a lot of great takeaways from Tribes by Seth Godin, which is why it’s one of my absolute favorite books on marketing. To explain the title, according to Seth Godin, your “tribe” is the community of people who rally around you and your message. Where does that rallying usually happen today? On social media.
This is one of the most powerful quotes in the whole book, something I keep coming back to over and over again: “With a long enough crowbar, you can rip nails out of a board. With a long enough teeter-totter, you can lift a sumo wrestler off the ground. With enough leverage, you can change your company, your industry, and the world. The levers just got longer (for everyone).”
Social media is the lever that just got longer. Anyone can create an account on Facebook or Twitter and get his message across to millions of people. One person’s video can change people’s lives, like the way the first video of the It Gets Better Project was a catalyst for that incredible movement.
Godin recognizes the way social media has become an invaluable tool for all businesses, but especially for solopreneurs and microbusinesses like the ones my customers are building. He then goes on to detail exactly how to create a tribe that’s following you and your “movement.”
Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media.
#11: How to Blog a Book
My favorite social media book that I’ve read in the last six months is How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir.
Even though I taught a class in 2006 called From Blog to Book, technology and the publishing industry have evolved over the years to the point that it’s a drastically different landscape now.
My biggest takeaway from Nina Amir’s book was Chapter 4, “Developing Your Blogged Book’s Business Plan.” I think this is the part most bloggers neglect.
Amir’s series of questions helped create clarity about the why, what and how to create and promote a book using a blog. The process takes you beyond the simple approach of finding articles you’ve already written and turning them into a book.
This book gave me a very clear process of how to create and promote a book simultaneously using my favorite online tool… my blog.
Denise Wakeman helps authors and entrepreneurs boost their visibility on the web.
Earlier this year, while I was researching how to write a book of my own, I came across Nina Amir’s book, How to Blog a Book. Her book provided a tangible framework that I was able to use to help me get my book, Twitter for Skeptics, out of my head and into print in under 4 months! Not only that, but I reached out to Nina on Twitter and established an ongoing, mutually beneficial professional relationship.
In the past few months, Nina’s offered to write about my experiences of “blogging a book” on her blog, which will no doubt provide me even more organic exposure for my book. In return, I’ve sent her 3 or 4 personal contacts who are considering writing books of their own so that Nina can hopefully offer them the same assistance she offered me!
Reading the book, connecting with its author and then having so many more opportunities arise as a result just goes to show that some social media books are not just theoretical, they actually provide real-world, real-time value for the professional goals you’re trying to achieve!
Don Power, social media consultant, editor and author of Twitter for Skeptics.
#12: Google+ Marketing for Dummies
My favorite social media book I’ve read in the last six months is Google+ Marketing for Dummies, by Jesse Stay.
I met Jesse at the Social Media Marketing World conference at the author’s table and immediately snatched up his book.
What I like about this book is that it got me up to speed on Google+ really quickly. I had an account, but never felt I had the time to master the ins and outs of Google+ and what I could do with it.
I read the bulk of it on a three-hour plane ride, and by the time we touched down I was ready to jump on Google+ and experiment.
One of my favorite takeaways is a tip for finding quality people to follow in circles. Search for “shared a circle” followed by any interest, and you will get publicly shared circles of people with that interest.
#13: Think Like Zuck
My favorite social media book that I recently read was Ekaterina Walter’s Think Like Zuck.
It tells the story of Facebook’s growth and its unlikely founder.
Most importantly it uses examples from the success of this top social network throughout the years as a testament to what entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can do to reach their full potential professionally.
It’s an enjoyable read and is suited for anyone looking to move forward in his or her career and interested in learning how Facebook grew to have 44% of all Internet users utilize its platform.
You’ll also learn how Facebook used the five Ps: passion, purpose, people, product and partnerships.
Brian Honigman, freelance writer, content marketer and social media consultant.
#14: Social State
The book I would recommend is Social State by Esteban Contreras. Esteban is currently a strategy director at Sprinklr, an enterprise social media platform, and previously managed social media at Samsung, so he definitely knows a thing or two about the state of social media.
Social State provides a great overview of the landscape of social media today.
Social State provides the essential facts and figures, but Contreras also relays the impact social media is having on our world through great anecdotes and examples. He does a nice job of discussing positive and negative aspects in a balanced manner, but with the knowledge that social media is an increasingly important part of the way we all communicate.
It’s a very useful resource for those who may not spend every moment of their day engaged with social media. And even those who already consider themselves experts will learn a thing or two!
Ben Pickering, a digital marketing executive.
#15: Think Like a Rock Star
My favorite book I read recently is Think Like a Rock Star by Mack Collier.
Most companies seek to have a transactional relationship with their customers, but rock stars have an emotional relationship with their fans. That’s because rock stars know that it’s not really about them, it’s about what they inspire and enable in their fans.
Collier’s book will give you a road map for not only greatly improving your marketing efforts but also creating an organization that helps you connect with your biggest advocates and benefit from their love of your brand.
You see, Collier knows the simple but powerful truth: in the social economy, your ability to acquire new customers will depend on your ability to delight your current customers and convert them into passionate fans of your brand. And in this book he shows you how.
Ekaterina Walter, partner and CMO at BRANDERATI.
#16: No Bullshit Social Media
My favorite social media book I read recently is No Bullshit Social Media by Jason Falls and Erik Deckers.
Falls’ and Deckers’ take, as advertised, is a no-BS approach to social media marketing.
They reaffirm what we tell our users all the time.
Your customers are already talking about you. Don’t you want to be part of their conversations?
Social media is the most effective way to ‘talk’ with them.
Jim Belosic, CEO of ShortStack.
The best social media book I’ve read in the last 6 month is, by far, Youtility by Jay Baer.
Jay takes a step back and looks at what we should do on social media to be successful—which is to be helpful to our audience!
The book is packed with inspiring examples to help us keep the big picture in mind.
We’re not investing our time and money on social media to share fun pictures and our latest product release. We’re doing it to make a profound impact on how our audience sees us. And the more help we can provide them with, the deeper the impact!
This book has helped me rethink all of our content and social media strategy. Now, everything we do goes through the “Youtility filter”: is this helpful for our audience? If yes, it goes out; if not, we dump it and start again.
Actually, even a product release announcement should be presented in a way to help users. Apply that “Youtility filter” to everything you do online and on social media and you’ll crush the competition!
Emeric Ernoult, founder of AgoraPulse.
One of my top recommendations from recent reading is Youtility by Jay Baer. If I was going to sum it up in one takeaway, it would be: “Just be helpful!”
Online content and social sharing proliferation continues to expand at rates never before seen. With that onslaught of content and information, how can a company be seen and stand out when we are competing with views from posts by our friends, family and competition? A solid strategy is: Be helpful, be personal (as a brand) and be available.
Baer dives into the details in this fast-moving and engaging read. He covers real-world examples of companies and apps that have moved beyond merely selling, and in so doing have created a loyalty that pays dividends! Here are a few of the key quotes and tips I wrote down:
- “Stop trying to be amazing, and start being useful.”
- Do not just write about your product… transcend your product! Solve customers’ real problems.
- Questions create dissonance, dissonance creates friction and friction stops people from purchasing. REMOVE THE QUESTIONS!
Mike Gingerich, co-founder of TabSite.
If you haven’t read Youtility by Jay Baer, you truly don’t know what you’re missing. In it, Baer explains the secret sauce for content marketing. It’s not enough to create content. You need to create content that people want to devour. Baer makes it all simple: it’s all about being generous with what you know.
One of the biggest challenges I find with my clients is that they’re reluctant to be generous. Somewhere along the road, they’ve gotten it into their heads that if they give away information, they’ve lost their competitive advantage.
Youtility blows up that myth as effectively as those guys on TV (without any dynamite). Youtility helps me make the case for content marketing so effectively that I’ve been giving it to my clients with great results.
Charlene Kingston coaches at the SocialMediaDIYWorkshop.com.
My favorite social media book that I’ve read in the past six months has to be Youtility by Jay Baer. Not only is Baer well-respected in the industry, he also gives an unbiased opinion about what is wrong with marketing.
The social media industry has become extremely crowded over the past few years. Baer offers great advice when it comes to standing out in a crowded space: be helpful and be good at what you do.
This doesn’t just apply to individuals looking to make a name for themselves. The principles that Baer writes about can be applied to the solopreneur on up to the larger, established business that is looking to connect with new customers and continue to provide value for existing ones.
While this idea has always been present, it’s now more important than ever because customers have so many other places to go for help.
When you mention help, a lot of people think of tutorials on how to do things. That’s one type of help. Another type is to provide solutions to problems. For example, more and more users are relying on mobile devices to stay connected. The businesses that are winning those battles are the ones that have adapted to the needs of their customers and provide solutions for them.
Thanks to Youtility, not only is this changing the landscape of how business is being conducted, it’s also teaching businesses that it’s about providing value and being useful to your customers in everything you do. This is helping create and establish meaningful, sustainable relationships with them.
Christian Karasiewicz, a social media marketing professional.
What useful books have you read recently?
As you can see, some of these books were recommended more than once, and some of the books recommended are not traditional social media books. But these social media pros picked up useful information and inspiration to help them improve their social media marketing.
What do you think? Have you read any of these books? What other books have you read recently that have helped you improve your social media marketing? Please share your comments below.
Cindy King is the director of editorial for Social Media Examiner. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business using social business networking. Other posts by Cindy King »