“You should be reading.”
When I started my internship with the MBA, I often stumbled into dilemmas—if I know that blogging is both a tool and an ethos, how often should we blog? How can I effectively plan blogs? How far in advance can I start them and still be timely?
A few swift keystrokes, and BOOM! My entire screen would be filled with social media gurus reminding me what the norms are.
After a few weeks of scanning, a few key lessons emerged. Some were fairly typical: Blog consistently. Talk about things that are helpful to other people. Solicit feedback.
One in particular, however, caught my eye: “You should be reading.” That trite command led me to thinking, “What should I be reading?”
In the past few months, I’ve discovered two different books that I consider helpful for anyone delving into social media. The first is entitled The Social Media Bible. It’s a whopping 771 pages, but it’s worth reading author Lon Safko, who has an impressive résumé and writes clearly. The Social Media Bible is known for its thoroughness—each chapter or section will explain what a social media tool is, how to use, what the standards are, and how to apply it in a marketing context. Some of it may be superfluous for people who long ago mastered Facebook and Twitter, but it’s a great refresher for less-user social media platforms like livecasting and aggregators.
If you are jumping into the social media pool and need technical help, pick up this book. It’s relatively inexpensive and an all-around great reference. Skip around to the chapters you need for practical help, and store it near your computer for a quick look-up.
The second book I’ve been is Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics, a 296-page breeze with a huge reputation. In it, Qualman talks about social media principles—does social media makes us selfish? What is the “Glass House Generation”? How is social media important to politics?
While many of these principles are worn and clichéd, Qualman stuffs the pages with memorable anecdotes and insights from real companies. These, in my humble opinion (and yes, I wanted very much to say “imho”), are the true gems of the book. It’s enough for me to convince my mother that lots of people use Facebook and quite another for me to tell her that if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.
However, if you check your pokes and @mentions regularly, this may not be the best book for you. Most of the material is, at best, unoriginal. If you are teaching others about social media uses, it may be a good pick-me-up. Nothing teaches like a good, solid anecdote.
I may be biased when I say that familiarity with social media is important for the new paradigm our businesses are entering, but I truly believe that good reads can help enlighten us professionally.
What books do you recommend?
—Kelly Frye, Social Media Intern
–This post has been updated to reflect the second version of The Social Media Bible.—