Social media is the future of advertising and brand engagement and it can have a powerful impact on you and your business, but many people struggle to even understand its basics.
What most marketers don’t get is that the reason social media is powerful is not the platform itself – it is that unlike the era of mass media – social media lets you connect directly with the people.
That is its true strength. Seth Godin puts this perfectly into context in his blog post “What’s Your People Strategy?”
Hard to imagine a consultant or investor asking the CMO, “so, what’s your telephone strategy?”
We don’t have a telephone strategy. The telephone is a tool, a simple medium, and it’s only purpose is to connect us to interested human beings.
And then the internet comes along and it’s mysterious and suddenly we need an email strategy and a social media strategy and a web strategy and a mobile strategy.
No, we don’t.
It’s still people. We still have one and only one thing that matters, and it’s people.
All of these media are conduits, they are tools that human beings use to waste time or communicate or calculate or engage or learn. Behind each of the tools is a person. Do you have a story to tell that person? An engagement or a benefit to offer them?
Figure out the people part and the technology gets a whole lot simpler.
Now its time for you to build your own people strategy. Here is a list of a few of my absolute favorite books on the subject. I’ve tried to keep this list as short and sweet as possible. It’s time to hit the stacks!
Crush It! (Amazon)
The seminal piece by social media legend Gary Vaynerchuck. You can probably read the entirety of Crush It in less than an hour. This book won’t wow you with a ton of never before seen social media secrets, but the raw power of Gary V’s enthusiasm, and the fact that he was one of the first people to realize the true potential of social media – make this book the starting place for any social media reading list.
If you consider yourself well versed in the basics – you can probably get away with skipping this one. But if you are clueless to social media and its potential – this is a mandatory starting place. This book answers the “Why” of social media. Here’s a picture of my favorite chapter in Crush It! (and one of the most important lessons in social media)
Smarter, Faster, Cheaper (Amazon)
I originally discovered David Siteman-Garland when looking around for website similar to Mixergy. He does a great web video / podcast series called Rise to the Top where he interviews entrepreneurs and talks about their success stories.
David’s first book – Smarter, Faster, Cheaper – is probably the book I most recommend to people who really want to dive in and learn how to build great content and develop the core of a successful social media strategy. I’ve given away several copies as gifts and lent my own copy out several times (still waiting to get it back from the latest friend I’ve lent it to). This book really delivers concrete actionable steps that can help you build a robust social media strategy based around rock solid content and execute it. This book answers the “How” of social media.
Trust Agents (Amazon)
For the best summary of Trust Agents – check out my 23 Favorite Kindle Highlights from the book. Trust Agents is a lot like Smarter Faster Cheaper but with a business focus. Smarter Faster Cheaper is all about how to build and execute an effective social media strategy around you and your personal brand (a book for mediapreneurs as he calls it), Trust Agents focuses on doing it within the context of an existing corporation or business with a sales and customer service tint.
These books don’t form the core of my thoughts on social media but I think each one really drills down on some of the foundations behind any successful social media strategy.
Never Eat Alone (Amazon)
Absolutely awesome book by Keith Ferrazi. Never even mentions social media as this is a book about traditional networking, but this book redefines the entire concept. This book changed the way that I thought about networking and what it means – it’s not mashing your business card into as many hands as possible – it’s all about being a resource, helping other people become more successful, and giving more than you get. Turns out that is exactly how you succeed with social media.
Raving Fans (Amazon)
An oldie but a goodie. Written well before the time of social media this book is all about customer service. But the core message underlying the book should be the backbone of any social media plan. You have to care deeply about each one of your customers (or followers) and take the time to defy their expectations. This book is another quick read told through an easy to remember parable.
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (Amazon)
Tim Ferriss called this one of his Top Five Must Read Books. Another one that you can get through in an hour or two. The core message here is that defining your own niche – or your own game as Trust Agents would say – is essential to any successful marketing strategy.
Seth Godin is widely regarded as one of the marketing geniuses of our time. Known for his pithiness, Godin’s book Linchpin can ironically ramble on at times. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of most of this book, but the single chapter titled “The Resistence” is worth the entire book and more. This chapter, riffing on the famous Steve Jobs line “Real Artists Ship” is all about overcoming your fears and objections and really putting yourself out there – an essential piece not only for social media success but for anyone who wants to achieve something big.
Bonus Blog Posts
Last but not least, I couldn’t help but include a few social media blog posts as well.
1000 True Fans (by Wired founder Kevin Kelly)
Hope you enjoy this reading list and hit me up on Twitter!