Top 15 Recommended Social Media Books of 2010

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It seems like only yesterday when I was blogging about the top 15 recommended social media books of 2009, but here we are ending out 2010.  And what a year 2010 has been: The rise of Facebook to become a dominating (and sometimes threatening) force globally, Twitter becoming a mainstream realtime communication platform embraced by older generations, and even LinkedIn adding various functionalities throughout the year to continue to remain relevant as the default social network for professionals.  Popularity in location-based applications such as FourSquare also skyrocketed this year.  And if 2009 was the year in which companies were still wondering whether or not social media was relevant or not to their business, I see 2010 as the turning point where businesses are not asking whether or not they need to integrate social into their marketing but how to go about doing so.  2011 should see a continuation of this as well as an emphasis on metrics, business to business (B2B) social media marketing, the continued growth of location-based services, and a growing interest and investment into mobile social media integration.  Not to mention the ever-growing importance of social strategy.

With the growing use of social media by both businesses and professionals, there was another influx of excellent books regarding its various uses that were published in 2010.  The interesting trend about social media book publication in 2010, though, was that 5 of the 15 books that made my list last year were republished as revised or 2nd editions this year:

As a rule, any book that was included in my list last year will not be put on this year; however, the above books are all classics and still highly recommended, even if you might have already purchased an earlier version.  The fact that some of these books are in 2nd edition proves that they truly are “classics.”

My only other rule for placement on the list is that the book had to have been published in 2010.  There were many great books that did not make the list, so this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything that is out there.  But if you haven’t read any or only 1 or 2 of these 15 books, you might want to consider starting to invest in creating your own social media bookshelf for future reference.

The below list is in no particular order, but I have done my best to classify which books are good depending on your specific interests.

Social Marketing

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

The classic book that was originally published back in 2008 (where were you in social media in 2008?!?!?) reappeared in its 2nd edition this year.  Along with some of the other books that were republished this year, this book deserves to be on every social media bookshelf.  A book that covers both marketing and public relations and emphasizes the directness of marketing to your customers over the social web, it includes a plethora of case studies and is all encompassing in scope.  Indeed, social media marketing is about the “new rules,” and one of the established thought leaders in social media reminds us of his relevance with this work.  Informative, conversational, and entertaining, The New Rules of Marketing and PR is a pleasant and satisfying read for all.

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani

This book has a title that raises expectations to a level that it makes it hard to deliver on.  But then again, if anybody could deliver on this promise, it is Shama, and if you have seen any of her Shama.TV videos, you know that she is all about no-nonsense and practical advice.  This book repeats her successful formula of dishing out advice that is easy to understand and immediately actionable.  The bulk of this book covers the essential platforms of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, while video is introduced as the “next frontier.”  Despite the book being only 200 pages, Shama manages to devote time to important topics such as creating a social media policy, tools, case studies, and a Q&A section.  An especially great introductory book for small business owners and social marketing newbies.

Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis

Brian Solis continues to be on the cutting-edge of social media thought leadership with his latest book Engage!  I have always enjoyed the academic approach he takes in presenting his understanding of social, complete with detailed metrics and images, to us who have been fortunate enough to see him speak.  Seeing that Brian has a PR background, his writing revolves around brands, campaigns, and the psychology of the consumer, and some might say this book is more appropriate for larger organizations than smaller ones.  I argue that the takeaways here are good for any size and type of company.  Not as easy to digest as some of the other books on this list, but all the more deeper and insightful for it.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment by Jim Sterne

“What is the ROI of social media?” is the question that I get asked most often.  Nobody asks about the ROI of traditional types of marketing that are a lot less trackable, but social is often put under a microscope like no other.  I always argue that, from an Income Statement perspective, the ROI of social is in the metrics.  Metrics, thus, provide the “proof” that social media is worth investing in, and now a definitive book on the subject has appeared.  This book is not simply about social media metrics, either, because Jim explains the metrics as he points out all of the various marketing activities that companies should be utilizing social for.  Highly recommended for any businessperson looking to establish, or prove, the ROI of social media.

Marketing Books that Go Hand-in-Hand with Social

UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. by Scott Stratten

I had the pleasure of seeing Scott speak, and chatting with Scott, at BlogWorld Expo recently in Las Vegas.  He is extremely down-to-earth, and he takes this same approach to have us unlearn everything that we already know about marketing in UnMarketing.  Although the book is a general marketing one in nature, any social media marketer will gain a lot by reading this book, although the shock value will be greater for traditional marketers.  Simple yet inspiring in its insight, UnMarketing takes you on a journey of 50+ topics and case studies that will certainly change the way you look at marketing – and better understand how to leverage social as a result of it.

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself by John Jantsch

From the creator of Duct Tape Marketing comes a book that is as down-to-earth, practical, and immediately actionable as the preceding book of his brand name was.  John is my hero, and he should be the hero of any small business owner, Marketing executive, or entrepreneur looking to utilize marketing the right way.  The Referral Engine is an extension of that, in that by simply through understanding the science of the referral and transforming your organization to embellish it, marketers can put word-of-mouth advertising to work for them for free by their best customers.  Social media can obviously play a great role in this, and John dedicates a chapter to this.  But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination for a social marketer to see how John’s practical advice can help you better leverage the potential for social to help you do more with less.

Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones by Joseph Jaffe

Similar to John Jantsch, Joseph Jaffe (nickname: @JaffeJuice) teaches us to forget about what we learned about Marketing and instead completely flip “the funnel” on all that we have been taught as to how marketing should be conducted.  Rather than spending budget on marketing awareness to reach mass potential at the top part of the funnel, look at your present customers as being the ones that will generate more sales from you through word-of-mouth referrals.  Joseph then goes above and beyond referral marketing by delving into improving customer service and the customer experience, and throughout the book practical social media case studies help to illustrate his points.  In order to understand referral marketing for 2011 and the role that social plays, you owe it to yourself to buy this book and The Referral Engine.

Social Media in the Organization

Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business by Barry Libert

Social Nation takes on the challenge of implementing social media throughout the organization and creating a new social entity where company and customer is completely aligned.  Social media requires organizations to radically change their traditional ways if they wish to fully leverage it, and this book creates the blueprint to allow leaders and managers throughout the company to implement social in their company or department.  Barry doesn’t try to hide the facts of the issues facing many companies, and he is also liberal in displaying the various benefits that can be obtained by truly embracing social media throughout the organization.  I remember when Reengineering the Corporation was required reading at my company, and it was a true call to revolutionize the way we do business with our customers as well as internal processes.  Social Nation is the social version of that classic book.  Will it become required reading at your company?

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Li

The co-author of the classic Groundswell and founder of the leading social media advisory firm Altimeter Group is back with a new book.  Open Leadership, as the name entails, is geared towards corporate leaders who need to understand how social media and new technologies have changed the business landscape and how it is necessary for both leaders, and their organizations, to become more open.  Instead of being in control, it is about “inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals.”  It is clear that companies that are not committed to social media from the top will ultimately be forced to change as social media continues to slowly penetrate every department in an organization.  Therefore, if you are a leader or need to convince others on the need to change to adapt to social media and what it requires internally to do so, this is the book you want to read or have them read.

Social Media for Good

The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine

Beth Kanter, the co-author of this book, is a known as a thought leader in how nonprofits can utilize social media as an invaluable tool, and she lives up to her reputation in this book.  Just as Social Nation and Open Leadership deal with organizational change, this book also challenges Executive Directors of nonprofits to embrace social media but only after first understanding the challenges and trends of nonprofits, the social web, and an internal social culture that will be required to become a truly networked nonprofit.   This is followed by enough tips and resources solely for nonprofits to leverage social that it should be required reading by all nonprofit organizations.

The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith

Jennifer Aaker teaches a class on “The Power of Social Technology” at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a class that is meant to show aspiring entrepreneurs that there is a lot of good that can be cultivated from social media.  Taking scholarly analysis from human psychology and mixing it with marketing provides a look behind what The Dragonfly Effect is about, a framework that can be utilized not only for social good on a global scale, but also within a company for both inward-facing (corporate culture) and outward-facing (customer service) tasks.  What makes this book extra special is the choice of case studies as  well as leaders from some of the biggest social media websites who offer their insight on the subject as well.


The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirpatrick

How Facebook came to be the amazing power that it is is not only a fascinating story, but it also gives us all a lot of hints about the future of social media’s impact on society through studying its past.  When I was in Japan recently, they were still perplexed on how any social networking platform can have a nearly 47% penetration rate here in the United States – and they still couldn’t believe that figure even after looking at the proof.  A fellow Amherst College Alumni and one of the top technology journalists, David Kirpatrick, has now come out with the definitive look at how it all came to being.  Not to give away the story of the book, but David commented on Amherst College’s website, “I wrote a book about Facebook because I think this company’s astonishing success over such a short time is among the most important developments of our age….Facebook is changing how people all over the world communicate.  It is a medium for the empowerment of ordinary people, which gives every one of its 500 million members a powerful broadcast platform.  It is having a big impact or “effect” on politics, government, business, marketing, media, and on our sense of identity and our notion of community. It was founded in a dorm room by a Harvard sophomore yet has grown to serve people in almost literally every community on the planet.  The story of how 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg created and nurtured it is a great entrepreneurial saga.”  The other thing that stands out about this book is that it was done with extensive cooperation from the CEO (whom David first met back in 2006) as well as its staff.  Enough said.  Forget about “that” movie: Buy this book instead!

Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day by Mari Smith and Chris Treadway

Co-author Mari Smith is an authority on the subject of Facebook, so that in itself is reason enough to buy this book if you have any doubts about how to use Facebook for marketing.  Part of the methodologically structured “XXX an Hour a Day” series, this book on Facebook provides enough background information on Facebook and social so that beginners can feel comfortable in getting started with Facebook while more advanced users can jump to the meaty sections on advanced tactics, campaign integration, Page optimization with applications and analytics.  Comprehensive in scope and easy-to-read, this is the book that should be on your desk if you’re trying to maximize your Facebook presence for your business or brand.

Blogging & Content Marketing

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Darren and Chris released their 2nd version of the book has become the bible for bloggers this year.  Although the title suggests that the book is only for affiliate marketers, the advice on blog writing, blog promotion and marketing, social media and your blog, and secrets of successful blogs is relevant for any business that is looking to blog as part of their social marketing strategy.  ProBlogger continues to be the thought leader and definitive source for everything blogging, so regardless as to whether you want to start blogging or just reconfirm your knowledge of best practices using the blogging medium, this should be your primary resource.

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley

Content marketing is one of the least-appreciated yet most important aspects of social media marketing.  If social media is, as I believe it is, 1% technology and 99% creativity, that 99% is spread between engagement and content alone.  Some say that companies lose control of their message in social media, but you are always in full control of your content, making it all the more valuable.  Now we finally have a definitive book on the subject written by two of its thought leaders, C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley.  Reading this book will help you create compelling content which is the basis for what you will be sharing in social media.  If you haven’t give much thought to the importance of your content before, you definitely need to be reading this book.

Although this blog post is about the top 15 books, I do want to add 2 more that you should be interested in:

The Big Book of Social Media: Case Studies, Stories, Perspectives by Robert Fine

First of all, a disclaimer: I am a contributor to one chapter of this book, which is a case study of one of my social strategy consulting clients and how they used LinkedIn to develop a community and, in the process of doing so, develop new business. In fact, every chapter in this book, all 42 of them, is written by a different author analyzing a different social media case study. From chapters on social business to case studies on how governments, non-profits, and even artists are using social, this book is unique in its content as well as the depth and variety of insight it provides to the reader. If you’re looking for fresh perspectives on the use of social media globally throughout a variety of organizations or industries, this is the book for you.

Finally, although I haven’t released a 2nd edition of my LinkedIn book yet, despite it being published in late September of last year, I have seen the best sales in the most recent months.  If you’re waiting out for a 2nd version of it, be forewarned that my Twitter book is next in line 😉

So there you have it!  Would you agree with these choices and my reasoning?  Any of your favorites missing?  Do chime in and share your favorite social media reads of 2010 with us!

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
@clickflickca No complaints - it WAS delicious ;-) - 29 mins ago
Neal Schaffer


  1. Glen Loock says

    Great Post, as if I did not have enough books on my I need to read this list you just made it longer. I am looking forward to 2011 at it being a great year. Have a great Holiday.

  2. says

    Ooops – Six Pixels of Separation was actually from 2009. It has remained very popular in 2010, but is not actually a 2010 release. Great list – have retweeted and shared on FB!!

    • says

      Thanks Darleen 😉 Indeed there are any books that were published later in 2009 that only got famous in 2010…I just had to create a standard that I would stick to, and publishing date was the easiest. Thanks again for commenting…and sharing!

  3. Barry Libert says

    Neal – thank you for including Social Nation in this list. I especially like your reference to the fact that you ‘remember when Reengineering the Corporation was required reading at (your) company, and it was a true call to revolutionize the way we do business with (your) customers as well as internal processes. Social Nation is the social version of that classic book. Will it become required reading at your company?’.

    Best regards,


  4. Anonymous says

    Thanks for including us in this stellar list, Neal! Some of my favorites in here, so it’s great company to be included in. Thank you!

  5. says

    Thanks for the comment Barry…and I hope you remember the days of Reengineering…social media seems pretty similar in how we need to be thinking about rewiring Corporate America…

  6. Lon Safko says

    Hey! Thank you for including my work in your Top 15 Books! Great blog!
    -Lon Safko, author of The Social Media Bible

  7. says

    While not a “social media” book Tony Hsieh’s (think Zappos) book “Delivering Happiness” is a very interesting book that sheds a light on what can make a company truly great. He does discuss his open social media policy for his employees and how engaging the customer fully can make all the difference when building your brand.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Theresa…agree that Delivering Happiness is a great book, and if this list was a Top 20 or Top 25 one…Zappos is a true case of a company that embodies social media deep into its own corporate culture. Thanks for reminding us all about his book!

  8. says

    Some great titles in there. thanks for sharing. I’m working through Jim Sterne’s Social Media Metrics and Brian Solis Engage – challenging reads both of them, but illuminating and well grounded.

    • says

      Thanks Rene…I enjoy the more challenging reads myself because I think they help enlighten us to a new level. Hope you get a lot out of those two books as well as others on the list!

    • says

      Thanks Nancy. This is a book originally published in 2008 and had its 2nd edition publication in 2010. Definitely a solid book, but lots of competition to be in the Top 15…but definitely recommended as a Facebook-specific manual.

  9. says

    After three years in Singapore, I’ve returned to the US. One of the many adjustments I’ve had to make is the use of social media, which was somewhat of a non-factor. Understanding how to effectively use social media as I move forward is very important to me now. I’m looking forwarding to getting a chance to read some of the books from this list.

  10. Los Silva says

    Neal,Another great book i would recommend would be Brains on Fire. It is all about passion and movements,very easy read wit great perspective.

  11. John. P says

    These look great. I just came across a book named, ‘Think Social Engagement…not just ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. Look good!

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