12 helpful books about social media

From theoretical to the tactical, these books can help anyone build a social media program for a company.


I am an avid reader, and many of my fellow social media practitioners ask for recommendations on the ones I think are the most helpful. Here are some of the books I share with them:

1. “Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements” by Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church, Spike Jones

One of my favorite books on marketing and social media, “Brains on Fire” offers original, practical, and actionable steps for creating a word-of-mouth movement for corporations, products, services, and organizations.

It takes you step-by-step through the necessary actions to start your own authentic movement. How did the 360-year-old scissor company Fiskars double its profit in key markets by realizing its customers had formed a community of avid scrapbookers? How is Best Buy planning to dominate the musical instruments market?

Read this book, find the answers to those questions, and develop and harness a powerful, sustainable word-of-mouth movement for your brand.

2. “Engage!” by Brian Solis

The ultimate guide to branding and building your business in the era of the social Web, “Engage!” examines the social media landscape and how to effectively use social media to succeed in business. It leads you through specific steps required for conceptualizing, implementing, managing, and measuring a social media program.

Brian Solis is one of my favorite thought leaders in the space and he never disappoints.

3. “The Thank you Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk

In this book, Vaynerchuk reveals how companies big and small can scale personal, one-on-one attention to their entire customer base, no matter how large, using the same social media platforms that carry consumer word of mouth.

He offers compelling, data-driven evidence to show that we have entered an entirely new business era. Companies that see the biggest returns won’t be the ones throwing the most money at an advertising campaign, they will be the companies that can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else.

I appreciate Vaynerchuk’s candor and his wit, but most of all I enjoy his passion about this subject and his passion towards his customers.

4. “Social Media ROI” by Olivier Blanchard

In his book, Olivier brings together new best practices for strategy, planning, execution, measurement, and optimization to define the financial (and nonfinancial) effects you desire and how to then achieve it.

Whether you’re in a startup or a global enterprise, this book will help you gain more value from every dime you invest in social media.

5. “The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social” by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, it outlines how you must retool your organization to make real-time business work for you rather than against you.

6. “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together” by Bob Pearson

This book explains how the exploding use of social media channels has fundamentally changed the way customers make their purchasing decisions, educate themselves, and choose to support certain brands above others.

Pearson shows what executives must do to re-create the way their companies interact with and learn from their customers, employees, and competitors.

7. “Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day” by Mari Smith and Chris Treadaway

This book explains how to develop, implement, and measure a successful Facebook marketing campaign. It’s packed with tips and tactics not documented anywhere else. I enjoy and value any knowledge Mari Smith shares.

8. “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition”
by Michael Stelzner

Stelzner’s message focuses on building relationships. The principles outlined in the book are the opposite of traditional marketing. Yet they work. And they are the future. If you follow the formula outlined in this book, you can possibly attract countless customers and prospects, resulting in amazing business growth.

9. “The Conversation Manager” by Steven Van Belleghem

A great book on how marketers can deal with both social media and the changing consumer. I particularly enjoyed the case studies from all over the world.

10. “Content Rules” by Ann Handley and CC Chapman

This book equips you for online success with a one-stop source on the art and science of developing marketing content that people will care about.

11. “Location-Based Marketing for Dummies”
by Aaron Strout and Mike Schneider

This helpful book teaches you how to successfully build, launch, and measure a location-based marketing program and determines which location-based services are right for your business.

12. “Likeable Social Media” by Dave Kerpen

In his book, Kerpen shares the secret to successful word-of-mouth marketing on the social Web: be likeable. A friend’s recommendation is more powerful than any advertisement.

“Likeable Social Media” helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most importantly, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word.

Kerpen’s energy and passion for putting his customers first and his knowledge shines through.

By no means are these the only books that you might find interesting on the subject. But if you have limited time this list should be a good starting point. If you think I left off some must-read books, recommend them below.

Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist at Intel. A version of this story first appeared on the blog 12 Most.

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