There is an alarming number of social media books out there on Amazon and in actual, real-life, book shops. Choosing those most useful to you is not an easy task, especially when there is such variety in the topics they cover. In this post, we’ll look at not only the best social media books but books that highlight the importance of social media in a wider branding and marketing capacity.
Remember that the marketer should always be looking to use social media to achieve tangible marketing goals that contribute to overall business goals. In this piece, we’ll outline the contents of each book as well as the value it will provide, so you can make an informed reading decision.
The best social media books
You would be excused for thinking that books on social media for business would all be pretty much the same: a look at the functionality of the major social networks; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and applying them to commercial activity on social media. But it’s not that simple. Remember that the technical functionalities of platforms change and readers have a wide range of proficiency; it doesn’t make sense to cover the technical features of each platform in a book about social media for business (it would be out of date in a few weeks!).
Additionally, the social media strategies for large, established brands are completely different to those for small, unknown brands; the leverages are so different. Once you add the fact that social media experts have different approaches and that every business within every sector will require different content and interaction strategies, you can see why there are infinite angles a social media book could take and areas it could cover.
Let’s begin with a heavyweight release:
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
JJJRH is Mr Gary Vee’s third social media title and certainly the best when it comes to content creation and strategy. It comes recommended because it’s pretty much content 101: keep adding value to your audience (jabbing) before hitting them with the sell (the hook). The book uses real-life case studies as examples so the reader can see what makes for good and bad content. We recommend this for people just starting out in social media; it’s fun and easy to read. If you’re the owner or marketer of a small brand or micro business, you’ll still benefit from the content theory but you’ll need other influences to enable you to generate tangible sales and leads (see #Winning).
Provides a very good grounding in social media content
Only uses large brand examples (mainly global brands, the smallest is a chain of fourteen restaurants)
Does not discuss social media interaction (actually communicating one-to-one with individuals online)
Facebook has further reduced the organic reach of posts since this book was released making some of the tactics less effective
Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley
This book is about much more than social media but is a worthwhile read for someone looking to become a thought-leader or expert within their industry. This is a great example of using social media with a clear purpose for commercial gain.
Individuals and leaders seeking more influence
Ideas for content
Developing a strategy for your personal brand
No advanced uses of platforms explored
Only about 20% of the book is about social media (but the other 80% is very useful!)
Daniel Priestley is the author of another business book worth reading: Oversubscribed. This book helps the marketer position their business effectively amongst their audience. By creating a sense of strong demand for your product or service, you set yourself up for success. This is something that can certainly be achieved through social media!
The Zero Moment of Truth by Google
This FREE 75-page ebook was made available by Google back in 2011. If we’re totally honest, it does nothing except put something we already know into a few, well-outlined theories and diagrams. BUT the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT) is really important and social media has a huge role to play. It’s well worth the read just so you have a clear sense of what the internet really means for consumers and, therefore, businesses. We summarised the key elements in a blog (here) and it’s also discussed in #Winning at Social Media (see below).
Short and easy to read and understand
Very relevant to social media and digital marketing, in general
Doesn’t delve deeply into social media practices, only the application of social media
No advice on how to harness the power of ZMOT
Instagram Rules – the essential guide to building brands, business and community by Jodie Cook
Boost your business, grow an online community or promote a side-hustle with Instagram Rules. Instagram is an essential tool for any business, and an estimated 60% of users discover new products via the platform. But how can you use it effectively? The book covers the most important aspects of running a professional account – strategy, content, community, growth – and drills into the key concepts so that you can apply expert digital marketing knowledge to your profile, no matter the size.
Why it’s good:
Covers the dos and don’ts of post planning; developing a voice; identifying trends; driving a campaign; responding to engagement; and more.
Shows you how to create a personalised Instagram strategy. Can be read as a quick-fire reference or as a step-by-step guide or for effective, focused strategy.
Applies insights from interviews with successful users (from Ben & Jerry’s and Papier, to freelancers and community groups) and Jodie’s own experience working with international brands, celebrities and small businesses.
Instagram adds new features all the time, so although the book was published in October 2020, Instagram has added new features since then.
Apps relating to Instagram grow, change and disappear, so some of those recommended might have changed or not be around any more.
#Winning at Social Media – it’s all about the interaction by Jodie Cook
#Winning was developed with small businesses in mind and to explore elements of social media that can create a tangible return. The search and interaction techniques using Twitter and LinkedIn will help business owners and marketers within the vast majority of businesses create a regular stream of leads through social media. Social media content is explained albeit from a theoretical perspective without practical guidance down to Cook believing this is explained sufficiently in other books.The focus of #Winning is interaction.
Why it’s good:
Well-explained techniques for search and interaction
Geared up to generate positive ROI for the reader
Unique development of social media theory to help your understanding
Less practical advice around content
Search and interaction tactics are less applicable to some larger brands
Less information on Facebook and other content platforms due to their lack of interaction capacity
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
“Start with why” is a great book about the fundamentals of leadership and marketing. Sinek highlights the reason that brands must begin their marketing strategy with why they do what they do; not focus on the features and benefits of their product or service.
This philosophy could not be more relevant to crafting an effective social media strategy and how best to resonate with your target audience. You can see his great TEDx talk below, but the book brings to life a host of real-life examples that will really help your understanding of the concept.
Very applicable to social media marketing
Doesn’t discuss social media directly and, therefore, provides no technical assistance
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
Traction is another great marketing book, especially for startup and tech companies. Traction explain the importance of analysing your marketing channels to identify exactly where to focus your energy (and budget) when it comes to building awareness and generating leads.
Taking an analytical approach to marketing
Maximising your ROI
Giving your business initial momentum
It’s not all about social media marketing
It is most applicable to startups; tech startups in particular
Other books worth a mention:
The One Thing – another business book, but, again, one that will help with your business endeavours. Focus on the one thing that will really make the biggest difference to your business. This should apply to your social media strategy.
Who moved my cheese? – yet another heavyweight business book, but one that promotes one of the key features of social media marketing; the ability and need to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
The 50 Great Ideas series – yes, we wrote these! These are easy-to-understand books for the social marketer, each with 50 actionable tips for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Easy SEO that will improve your return.
Remember, if you’re seeking more practical information about how to use the functionalities of social media platforms, the most trustworthy and up-to-date information will be provided by the platforms themselves. All of the major networks have support pages, as well as help and advice for business users. These are great places to start if you need more a more basic understanding.
Social media books: some rules
Maybe you’ve read all of the above, maybe you’ve come across something we’ve not mentioned. Here are a few things to look out for when looking for a new title:
Avoid books using loads of jargon to promote themselves. Everyone hates marketing jargon, including your audience. If they’re dropping buzzwords left, right and centre before you’ve even bought it, you know it will be full of them.
Read reviews in detail. Reviews, good or bad (everyone has their own tastes and ideas), tend to divulge more information about the book than you can cream from the blurb or what the author says about it. You should be able to work out whether the book covers what you need, suits your business and is pitched at your level.
Do find books that discuss Twitter. Twitter is the only true social network – social in the way business accounts can go and find and interact with other accounts – everything else is pretty much content and we’ve all been content marketing for decades.
Don’t believe anything telling you it will help you ‘go viral’ or that you’ll begin ‘making $$$ from Facebook within three months’ unless you’re going to plough $$$ into adverts – it doesn’t work like that.
Suggestions of your own? We’d love to hear them!