We spend so much of our time online reading short snippets of information about our industry that sometime we forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Reading books is a great way to get some extra insight in to your industry especially in to one as new as social media. I’ve selected 11 books below that I’ve read and although they cover different levels of the industry and come at it from different angles they are all well worth a read. If you are new to the industry or trying to find your feet then I’d order a selection of these and get your head buried in to them. There is so much waffle online when it comes to our industry that I really can’t recommend enough that you get offline (Or even better get a Kindle and download them all immediately) and start reading some of these books about social media. Here is my list of 11 books about social media that you should get stuck in to today…
Re-Work by 37 Signals
These guys are a small software company who make big profits and think very differently about business. The book is short and to the point and really gets you throwing all conventional business ideas out the window. You don’t have to be in the software business to appreciate what these guys are talking about or even in internet business of any sort, their advice just makes sense. The main point that they have in the book is not to think about getting too big before you need to, not trying to grow too fast and generally treating your business as something that you love rather than something that you just build up and try and sell as quick as you can. It’s a really quick read (You’ll finish it in less than a day) but you’ll find yourself going back to it all the time for little bits of advice and inspiration long after you have actually finished reading the book.
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This really is one of the best books around written by Erik Qualman. You probably recognize his name or the title of the book from the series of videos that he has made to help promote the book. One of the smartest thinkers in this new medium you’ll also find his blog excellent reading. What you’ll find in this book are some great practical examples of social media at work in the real world as well as Qualman making the argument about how it will shape everything businesses do in the future.
What Would Google Do?
This is a fantastic read about one of the biggest and most innovative companies of our generation. Not only does it go in to some of the main reasons why Google have become the Internet giant that they are today but it also looks at some of the logic that goes in to the business decisions that Google make. Rather than a “how to” business book this is more of a high level view behind some of the business thinking that changed industries that Google are involved in.
This books looks at how companies in the last 10 years or so are using alternative technologies like crowdsourcing, open source technology and of course wikis to change the way they operate and become more effective. Although the book is over 3 years old at this stage it really caught the early wave of innovation and sharing online using a whole raft of new tools that we now take for granted and the text within the book is as relevant to us all now as it was back then.
The Whuffie Factor
This is a great guide for businesses and individuals looking at embracing new ways of marketing online and is written in an informal style which is far more forgiving that some of the other books on this list. There are plenty of examples in the book of companies who have succeeded but also some great examples of companies who jumped in head first and got it all wrong. The main thing that you will hopefully get out of the book is how to get your word of mouth referrals rocking for your business and generally create a positive feeling around your business online. What I like most about this book is that the author clearly has lots of experience in the field and is not scared to share that experience with the readers.
One of the most popular buzz words in the last couple of years in the online world has been crowdsourcing but surprisingly the word itself has only been around since 2006. The book really shows that although crowdsourcing has been around for a long time in different formats it is really the power of the internet that has brought it to the fore and shown what can be done with it. The book shows how crowdsourcing can solve many of the problems that we have in life today including marketing and creative issues but the one area where the book does fall down slightly in my opinion is that it doesn’t show enough of the negative issues around crowdsourcing and it paints it as the solution to nearly everything without taking in great detail about many of the drawbacks
The Facebook Effect
At this stage you will probably have seen the movie about Facebook called “The Social Network” and the film is loosely based on this book. Very loosely actually! This is a great insight in to the key players and the journey that they all went on in the early days of Facebook and how it become the huge power that it is today. what you’ll find amazing is how the story unfolds form a dormitory in Harvard and grows and grows as the business evolves but just how unorganized and chaotic it was in the early days. What makes this such a great read in my eyes is that all of the events takes place very much in recent history (about 5 years ago) and you would never think that the main man at the center of it all, Mark Zuckerberg, would end up being worth billions of dollars and wielding so much influence in the world today. We all spend so much time on the world’s biggest social network and it is such an important part if our daily lives that we probably should all read this brilliant book about just how it was built.
Viral Loop : How
If ever there was a book that did exactly what it said on the cover this is it. The idea of Viral loops that we know so many businesses around the world are trying to recreate have been around for some time and this book does a great job of not only explaining some of the popular ones that we see on the internet today but also many of the original viral loops from businesses that we would never have thought of from the past. The author does a great job of setting the scene with some of the inventors of viral businesses models before moving on to how they work and finally giving you what you had picked the book up for in the first place…how to implement them in to your own business yourself. Reading this book doesn’t mean that you will be able to automatically create a viral loop for your own business but it will give you a better understanding of the term viral and what you might have to do to make it work yourself.
Seth Godin could have has any number of books on this list and although he is supposedly not publishing regular books any more he has written enough content to keep us all going for some time. Godin is always held up as one of the great marketers of our time and somebody how thinks differently about the world around him. Tribes for me is his best work and focuses in on not surprisingly Tribes of people or customers that can be built up around a person or business. As Godin says himself Tribes are… “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea”. The book doesn’t actually have chapters but instead is based around ideas on how you can build or lead your own Tribes.
The Long Tail
This is a very common expression that Chris Anderson the author of this book first coined in a Wired magazine in 2004 and later evolved in to this entire book. It essentially talks about large companies like Amazon and iTunes who sell large volumes broken down in to many different categories rather than a couple of large products that used to be the way. The book can get very technical at times and delve in to numbers and more advanced language that might put many off but as a book with ideas that define an entire business model it really is an excellent read. The main message that comes across in the book is how thanks to the internet all our buying habits have modified and we live in a society where we get things instantly and by applying filters and detailed search we are no longer bothered by mass market goods that we just don’t need.
The Cluetrain Manifesto
Though written in 1997, before we had the likes of Facebook and Twitter this could easily have been written today and be just as relevant to social media marketing. The Cluetrain Manifesto was a pivotal book and a must-read for anyone involved in marketing or communications in any shape or form. The book looks at the way that the internet has changed communication and the impact this has for companies. It looks at the need for modern organisations to be transparent and fluid, with traditional organisational structures no longer being as relevant as they were. The central theme throughout the book is that every market is a conversation – a powerful and challenging concept at the time. Filled with expert analysis and case studies, if you haven’t read this, go out and buy a copy today! Check out the original site here, which looks exactly as it did when the book launched,