The surge of interest in social media over the last two or three years has been accompanied by a surge in social media books seeking to demystify the topic - and I have had lots of requests for recommendations of the best books.
Everyone's preferences for books to help improve marketing practice differs, but I think what most look for are practical guidance and tips; tools to apply to help analyse and improve performance and a framework to bring all the tactics together to help with planning and process. Examples of companies who have successfully applied the principles are also essential and learning from failures is good too, although those aren't naturally publicised.
For social media, I think marketers also need guidance on how to use the specific types of social media presence and how they integrate with other digital media such as email marketing. A useful framework for types of social media presence are to review your options for these site types:
1. Social Networking "€“ the emphasis here should be on sharing with the emphasis on Facebook for consumer audiences and Linked In for business audiences.
2. Social Knowledge "€“ these are informational social networks Yahoo! Answers and similar plus Wikipedia where you can engage an audience by solving their problems and subtly showing how your products have helped others
3. Social Sharing "€“ these are the bookmarking sites like Delicious (www.delicious.com) which are relatively unimportant in the UK except if you are engaging technical audiences.
4. Social News - Twitter is one example of this which we have covered before in these columns.
5. Social Streaming - Rich and streaming media social sites - photos, video and podcasting
6. Company blogs and communities "€“ last, but not least your own blog can form the hub of your social media strategy.
I have read many books on social media, but have generally been frustrated since they have been conceptual, explaining the concept and why it's important.
But most have lacked a good planning framework and specific practical guidance. This post gives a review of one of the most practical books I have come across yet and showcases some others I have found useful. It's...
The New Community Rules: Marketing on The Social Web by Tamar Weinberg
To help make the review more useful, it is presented in the classic SOSTAC® planning model developed by PR Smith which is used in my books and is useful to make sure you are covering all the bases.
A key part of the business case for social media is understanding customer adoption of different networks and social tools and different consumer behaviours. This is relatively weak in this book, but has been covered in many other books and not sure it's essential in a practical guide.
The Forrester Groundswell book is strong in this area and I recommend their social profile tool showing different levels of engagement with social media.
Setting meaningful goals for social media is the biggest challenge for many since the benefits are often intangible. This book scores quite well in this area with Chapter 2 devoted to goal-setting. I would liked to have seen more reference to frameworks for measuring engagement and links to analytics (see also this post on options for demonstrating value from social media).
Developing a social strategy bookends the chapters on tactics and tools in this book. Chapters 3, 4 and the final chapter cover strategy. The main elements of strategy covered are ongoing listening and reputation management.
Using social media for promotion, integrating with campaigns across media and approaches for segmentation, targeting, positioning, message development, integration with email marketing and landing pages are less well covered.
This is the strongest part of the book, reflecting the books practical nature. This is evident from the separate chapters give tips on how to manage these tactics which provide a useful checklist of issues to consider:
Social network sites - with emphasis on Facebook
Social Knowledge sites - Informational social networks Yahoo! Answers and similar plus Wikipedia
Social Sharing - bookmarking sites
Social news sites
Rich and streaming media social sites - photos, video and podcasting
Actions and Controls
Many suggested actions are presented in the previous section, but as mentioned above - the book is relatively weak on analytics for social media including social listening.
I hope that's helpful. Please give your thoughts on other books on social media which you think work for producing a plan.
Here is my compilation and comments on books I have read from most practical to most conceptual / strategic :
By Dave Chaffey
Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of marketing publisher and learning platform Smart Insights.
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