The 20 Best Social Media Books from 2012 to Read in 2013

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In what has become an annual tradition for this blog, the time has come to take a look back at the incredible additions that many authors have made to our understanding of social media from a wide variety of perspectives in 2012. My initial list featured 15 best social media books of 2010, followed by increasing the number listed to 25 for my best social media books of 2011 post.  While I could have easily increased this list to 30 or even 35, I wanted to instead concentrate on only those books that I feel truly add value – and therefore I have decided to actually reduce the number of recommended books to 20. The self-publishing revolution means that there is no lack of content out there to read on social media, but however subjective this list might be because it is written by a person (moi), I am hoping to steer you to books that hopefully you will consider a worthy investment of your time.

While I usually begin my list with the “classics” that were updated and revised over the last year, I believe that referencing my previous two year’s posts should give you an idea of what books to look for – but I’m pretty sure that this list will provide you more than enough social media inspiration for the next coming months!

Without further adieu, here are 20 books that have been published in 2012 that I believe are recommended reading in order to keep up with understanding social media for business from a wide variety of perspectives, and I guarantee you that you will continue to find the content fresh enough to inspire you well into 2013. These books range from some “beginner” social media marketing books written by experts to advanced reads on how social media is transforming the enterprise into a “social business.” The below list is in no particular order, but, as always, I have done my best to classify these social media books according to convenient categories, some of which I have included a brief explanation for.


Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver by Dave Kerpen

The author of Likeable Social Media is back with an excellent book that covers 11 themes that can guide businesses into becoming a “Likeable” company. Where Dave’s first book was more Facebook marketing-centric in its approach, his new book has lessons for leadership that can apply lessons learned in social media to help an entire company becoming “Likeable.” While some of the themes covered like “Listening” and “Storytelling” might seem to be no-brainers, Dave explains the importance of these concepts that truly put social media, and how businesses need to respond to it, into extremely relevant context.

Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action by Rohit Bhargava

Don’t be taken away by the title of this book, which seems like a cross between “Likeable” and “Socialnomics.” The content is unique and insightful in both its case studies as well as its content in convincing us of the business (and professional) value of simply becoming a “liked” and trusted resource. It’s as close of a good read as you will find that discusses the true “humanizing” of a brand. While the book is obviously a business book not solely about social media, social can clearly play a big role as a strategic channel to make this happen. This book will inspire not only your business but also yourself to follow its 5 key principles and build better and deeper relationships with those around you.

The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The team that brought us Trust Agents is back with an important message: Your business might be “doing” social media, but are you truly having a deep, human impact on your customers? The authors provide us a formula to truly make a business impact that, while not solely limited to social media in focus, provides enough examples and advice to educate you on how to better leverage social. Organized into the surprisingly simple sections of Goals, Ideas, Platforms, and Network, this book will force you to rethink every move your business makes to better engage with present and future customers.


The Connected Company by Dave Gray

As this blog has become less the voice of one person (moi) and more a community of many experts, I also wanted to include books recommended by our contributors to this list. Without further adieu I bring you The Connected Company, recommended by Social Media and Public Relations contributor Judy Gombita in her Audacious Byte: McDonald’s Canada Makes “Food Quality” Its Social PR Hero post where she quotes from the book, “…Dave Gray…weaves together the core elements you need to take into account when designing the connected company: transparent interaction and communication platforms, organizational structures favoring autonomy and adaptation, a culture of experimentation and learning, and a new governance and reward system encouraging new behavior and holding it all together.” The advent of the truly social business means that everyone needs to have a seat at the table internally and collaborate in a way that was unthinkable before social media. With that in mind, I can think of no more appropriate book to put in the social business category than The Connected Company.

Social Business By Design: Transformative Social Media Strategies for the Connected Company by Dion Hinchcliffe and Peter Kim

It’s no surprise that the title for this book includes “The Connected Company”: The advent of social media will require internal employees to work together as outlined in the above book.  In contrast to Dave Gray’s book which talks about the why, what, how, and how to lead, Social Business by Design applies the social business concept to specific internal disciplines as well as outlining the design and strategies of a social business. An excellent read that allows you to leverage the deep consulting experience and expertise of the authors and The Dachis Group to help guide your company.

The Collaborative Organization: A Strategic Guide to Solving Your Internal Business Challenges Using Emerging Social and Collaborative Tools by Jacob Morgan

The author of Twittfaced is back three years later with what just might become the handbook you end up using to lead your company into having more strategic collaborations amongst your employees as you continue your journey into becoming a social business. Filled with both insightful advice as well as examples from a plethora of organizations, Jacob hand holds you – whether you are just starting out or are trying to take internal collaboration to the next level – to best leverage the power of social and collaborative technologies and strategies to become a truly collaborative organization.


2012 saw the publication of a few unique books that bear mention for talk about the importance of standing out in the noisy world of social media, whether it be through being “unpopular” or achieving to be an “awesome” company.

The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters) by Erika Napoletano

Social Business Trends contributor Joel Don mentioned this popular (pun intended) book in his post What’s in a domain? Establishing your social business brand. Social media allows brands to connect with people in a deep way, but it can only happen in a meaningful way by first being honest with yourself and your brand. Erika cautions us that it’s not about being popular: It’s about building a unique community and fostering brand advocacy that are aligned with your truly distinct brand personality. A branding book at heart, reading this will truly help you see the world of social media in a unique way – and your business will be the better for it.

Stand Out Social Marketing: How to Rise Above the Noise, Differentiate Your Brand, and Build an Outstanding Online Presence by Mike Lewis

Social media is truly getting noisy, but that doesn’t mean that your company will never be found. Mike Lewis guides the reader on how to create and implement a social meda marketing strategy that utilizes all of what social media offers but in a way that is uniquely meaningful to your brand. Insightful yet practical, following all of the “Stand Out” tips will yield dividends for your business.


Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee Odden

The founder of one of the top online marketing blogs, TopRank, Lee Odden publishes his first book and covers a lot of ground covering the entire spectrum of social and online marketing. A gem of practical insight and advice to get you thinking of optimizing your online presence through a holistic combination of SEO, social and content marketing. A great online marketing perspective to integrating social media into your marketing mix.

The Fusion Marketing Bible: Fuse Traditional Media, Social Media, & Digital Media to Maximize Marketing by Lon Safko

The author of The Social Media Bible is back with a book that teaches us how to “fuse” social media, digital, and traditional marketing together. The intertwined relationships between each of these marketing types is discussed in detail, followed by a deep dive into important concepts that will help you see the connections – and improve upon your conversions in marketing.


Social Marketology: Improve Your Social Media Processes and Get Customers to Stay Forever by Ric Dragon

Ric’s excellent book provides the reader with a framework for which to create a social media strategy and then processes to allow your marketing team to do everything from humanizing your personality and voice to influencer marketing. Highly recommended read to any business who isn’t sure how well they are doing at social media or those that lack a concise strategy or plan.


Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing by Mark Schaefer

While the concept of influence marketing and the importance (or lack thereof) of influencer scores such as Klout still sparks debate in many circles, the integration of social scoring into the most popular social media dashboards means that this is a topic that will continue to engage social media marketers into 2013. Fellow instructor of social media marketing at Rutgers University Mark Schaefer provides a good introduction into influence marketing, Klout, and social scoring. Additional reading: 13 Experts Chime In on Klout’s New Algorithm to Determine Social Influence.


The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey Cohen

An all-star combination of B2B social media marketing professionals, Hubspot Director of Marketing Kipp Bodnar and Salesforce Marketing Cloud Content Marketing Manager Jeffrey Cohen, provide a comprehensive look at how to generate B2B leads using a plethora of social media platforms. I enjoyed the holistic perspective of this book which goes beyond even social to also include search, email marketing, and other forms of content marketing such as webinars. It even talks about how to make traditional trade shows more social. If you’re a B2B marketer, this is the best introduction to find to help make better use of social media to generate leads.


Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine

The social media for nonprofits thought leader Beth Kanter is back two years after her groundbreaking book The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change with a natural follow-up: How to measure the social media activities of your “networked nonprofit.” Nonprofits notoriously lack budgets and resources for social media, so it all comes down to a data-driven approach which measures the effectiveness of your time spent in social media – and how your entire organization can utilize that same measured data. What I love about the book is the universality of its message: This book is as applicable to for-profit companies as it is for nonprofits.


What the Plus!: Google+ for the Rest of Us by Guy Kawasaki

No one is a bigger Google Plus evangelizer outside of Google than Guy Kawasaki is. And no one explains not only the basics of the platform but also ideas as to how you can derive value out of the platform than Guy does. A passionate book that makes you take a deeper look at the platform and helps both beginners begin to use G+ as well as remind more experienced users as to the functionality they might have neglected. Additional read: Guy Kawasaki and 10 Experts Chime in on the Value of Google Plus – and How You Can Start to Leverage It.


LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day by Viveka von Rosen

Viveka knows the ins and outs of LinkedIn as well as anyone. The format for this book servers her well to be able to share her knowledge in a week-by-week fashion that will give you a very comprehensive look at the value that LinkedIn provides you. The final chapters provide some unique, targeted advice for certain industries and professions, such as real estate professionals, legal professionals, and entrepreneurs. A welcome addition to the growing library of LinkedIn books.


Thi is the first year that any Pinterest book has been included on my best social media book lists, but Pinterest has become such a strong marketing force for small businesses and large brands alike that it makes sense that literature on the increasingly important social media website for e-commerce be required reading for social media marketers. There were a number of great books on Pinterest published just in the last several months, so it was not easy to choose just one book out of the many to recommend to you…

Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, and Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network by Jason Miles and Karen Lacey

This book has everything you need to get started on Pinterest and more: From real-life examples of how Pinterest has impacted small businesses and personal anecdotes from the author’s own business to detailed tactics and strategies to become a pro at pinning. I like how the book goes as far as giving advice as to not only how you can best integrate Pinterest into your entire social media marketing but also how you can best integrate your efforts with Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, should you be on those platforms. If you’re looking for one Pinterest book out of the many that have been published, this is going to be your best bet. Additional reading: Unraveling the Mysteries of How Pinterest Generates Business!


Infographics? Yes, infographics. Social media marketing is increasingly becoming visual, and infographics are becoming a vital tool to help companies tell their stories in a format that is extremely shareable.

Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie, and Ross Crooks

Story telling is as important than ever in social media, and combining that concept with the power of the visual is the background for this compelling book. Three co-founders of a creative agency take us on a tour, especially geared towards marketers, as to how to get started making shareable, visual content a larger part of your social media efforts. This book delivers on its promise to provide you with the knowledge of both why infographics are so powerful today and how to go about creating your own.


While some of the above books are for the more advanced social media practitioner or marketer, or for those who want to narrow in on learning about applying social media to a specific industry or platform, some of you may simply be looking for an easy to way to get started. These two books are the perfect way to get started putting all of the social media pieces together:

Social Media Commerce for Dummies by Marsha Collier

Marsha Collier published her first online marketing book before some of you graduated high school back in 1998. This gives her almost 15 years of historical perspective vis a vis the Internet to write a book that is the ultimate beginner social media marketing book if you are trying to tie social media with e-commerce. Practical, relevant, and easy to understand, Marsha lives up to the brand promise that is hinted in the title of this book – and goes well beyond in comprehensively explaining social media commerce from almost every potential angle.

Solving the Social Media Puzzle: 7 Simple Steps to Planning a Social Media Strategy for Your Business by Kathryn Rose and Apryl Parcher

Kathryn and Apryl provide an extremely practical overview of how to go about strategizing and implementing social media marketing for your business covering each of the major platforms and including advice from many experts. It is the perfect companion to Marsha’s book and will allow the reader to painlessly begin planning and “doing” even for those that might know nothing about social media marketing before reading it.

2012 was an exciting year in the book industry for the topic of social media. I’m hoping that you share in some of the excitement by reading a few of the above recommended books.

Now it’s your turn: Were your favorite social media books of 2012 included in this list? Any missing? Please chime in. THANKS!

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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Neal Schaffer


  1. says

    Interesting list. Thank you for sharing, Neal.

    Yes, there is one missing – probably the best social media book of the year for corporate communicators, marketers, PR and customer service folks: “The Social Media Strategist” by Christopher Barger. No one understands social from the corporate perspective like he does.

    • says

      Thanks for chiming in Vickie! Yes, that was a great book, and I’m glad you brought it up in the comments. Unfortunately, it was published late in 2011, meaning that I couldn’t technically put it on this list but was too late to be considered for last year’s list ;-( It definitely bears reminding so thank you for the comment!

  2. says

    Found myself on Amazon a few times as I am reading. It makes me wonder how I missed some of these but thanks for the heads up! I love reading from some of these experts. It gets my creative juices flowing and the marketing influences in check……
    I appreciate this list and look forward to more of your great posts…

  3. says

    Great list! I am definitely going to check these books out. I have been trying to push the company that I work for to give more attention to social media. This will help me argue my points.

    • says

      Thanks Jacquelyn! Yes, there are more than enough excellent books out there to help argue your points! If you can be more specific as to what types of books would help support your argument, I’d be more than happy to give you some advice – just comment below! Thank – and good luck!

  4. says

    This is a terrific list – I have a few, but now I know how I’m going to spend my Amazon cash! I wanted to point out that the B2B Social Media Book is really suprising. With a subhead of “being a rockstar” I expected a thin, cheerleader style book but it is so in depth and analytics based. Right up my alley!

  5. Erin O'Brien says

    Neal, thank you for the list! I work in social media – part-time for a city public library, part-time as a freelance social media manager – and realize I need to keep up on the latest in social media. These books may be the ticket. Plus, there’s always something to learn in marketing and social media! Now I’m off to place some holds…

    • says

      As my college’s Dean said when we were graduating, “Become a Lifelong Learner.” I’ve always tried to stick to that advice, and with the ever-changing world of social media, it’s more important than ever!

    • says

      Thanks Nicole! What most people misunderstand is that book writing, as opposed to blog writing, goes into a level of depth – and permanence in concept – that I honestly believe that those who invest their time in reading only a few of these books will get serious ROI for their time. I do hope you’ll follow up after reading those books!

  6. says

    Thanks so much for both taking the time to read my book AND to share it with your audience, Neal. I also loved Marsha Collier’s Social Media Commerce For Dummies book — she’s been a powerhouse in the For Dummies world for awhile and I thought that one really hit a timely subject right on the head. Happy New Year!

  7. Mary says

    So happy about this list, thanks! I’m a newbie and there are so many books to choose from that it’s kind of overwhelming.
    Have you read Renegades Write the Rules? If so, what did you think about it? Did you find it helpful and informative?

    • says

      Hi Mary – thanks! To be honest with you, for some reason, Renegades Writes the Rules somehow was not on my radar but it looks like an excellent read. I am going to add this book to the list as an honorable mention. Thanks so much for bringing it up!

    • says

      Hey Ian thanks for the comment! To be honest with you Engagement Marketing was not on my radar, but it looks like a great read, especially for small businesses. I’ll be sure to add it to the article as an honorable mention. Thanks!

  8. says

    Hey Neal. Thanks for updating this list once again. We used your previous list(s) as one of the foundations for a comprehensive database of books written about social and digital technologies, and I just checked to make sure it includes all these titles.I’m astounded by how many books have been written – and we didn’t even include all of them!

    Now that that database is essentially complete (at least for the time being) we’re going to dive into some analyses. Our preliminary reviews revealed some interesting findings…

    Courtney Hunt

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Courtney, and, yes, since I’ve been doing these annual reviews for sometime now, I was also surprised by the increasing number of books that exist out there on social media. In the past, my list was more of a curated compilation, but for this post, I found myself having to weed out some really good books to make it more selective. With so many books out there, having a shorter list will hopefully help the reader be more efficient in their book selection. I look forward to your analyses!

  9. RK Chaturvedi says

    thanks for compiling the list..i’d definitely get a few. one more i really liked was Think Social Engagement by Ashwin Razdan. don;t these books get outdated .. keeping in mind the dynamic nature (and not to forget daily innovations and vastness) of social media?

    • says

      You’re welcome RK! I don’t think the list gets outdated because, although the details of social media are of a dynamic nature, the conceptual insight remains equally valuable, at least for the books that I have chosen for this list.

  10. says

    Hi Neal! Thank you so much for compiling this list. Would you happen to have any industry specific suggestions? For example, a book that speaks to social marketing for the hospitality industry?

    • says

      Thanks Raina! Unfortunately that book has yet to be written, but I’m sure it won’t be long until we see it appear! I’ll update this comment stream should I find one!

  11. Andreea says

    Hello Neal,
    I saw your post when I was almost going crazy that I cannot find Social Media books. I am doing my thesis on Social Media for B2B. Do you know some good books that I could read to bring some nice input on my paper. I would like to find out if there is any social media implementation strategy that an NGO can follow to develop their social media channels. But not for marketing, just for B2B communication, mainly informing.

    Your answer will be a blessing for me!

    Thank you!

  12. says

    Your list really help me to find a good books to read. Thank a lot.
    Do you have best seller book list for social media and blog?

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