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Best practical social media book?

By Dave Chaffey 06 Jan, 2010

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

[amazon-product]0596156812[/amazon-product] [amazon-product region="us"]0596156812[/amazon-product]

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.

Situation analysis

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.

If you're looking for published research on adoption and behaviour, I have compiled a summary of social media adoption statistics.

Objective Setting

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:

  • Blogging
  • Twitter
  • 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.

To help here, I have these posts:

The Omniture workbook on measuring social media also provides a good plan template for tracking social media, even if you're not using Omniture.

My other recommendations on social media books

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. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. To learn about my books, see my personal site Digital marketing books by Dr. Dave Chaffey. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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